Article archives

Here you can find links to all the articles published on this website.

You can also view the PRODUCTHEAD newsletter archive.

  • 23: Too much choice can be overwhelming

    23: Too much choice can be overwhelming

    As the Olympics approached, I was salivating greedily about the twenty-four live streams of coverage the BBC would be providing. As I’m not on cable or satellite, this ended up being just three. You’d think I would be disappointed but I’m not – this is going to improve my enjoyment immeasurably as a result. Here’s…

  • 22: Blow your own trumpet

    22: Blow your own trumpet

    As a product manager, people will take credit for your hard work – unless you trumpet your own successes!Read more ›

  • 21: Seven KPIs for customer insight

    21: Seven KPIs for customer insight

    Knowledge is power for product managers, but you have to gather and interpret the right metrics. Here are seven suggested KPIs that you can use to expand your customer insight and to drive better performance.Read more ›

  • Big data – big deal?

    Big data – big deal?

    Everyone seems to be hyping Big Data right now. I think we’ve reached that slightly scary point where CEOs are aware of Big Data and are beginning to think it a panacea for all business ills. But I’m asking the question: what’s the big deal with Big Data?Read more ›

  • Cookie cookie cookie COOOKIE

    Cookie cookie cookie COOOKIE

    I enjoy a good cookie, particularly the slightly squidgy ones with huge chunks of chocolate in. Sadly, this isn’t about highly-calorific comestibles, but about information this site will store in your browser.Read more ›

  • 20: Leave work when you’re meant to

    20: Leave work when you’re meant to

    Here’s how to sleep more soundly at night and avoid setting unrealistic expectations about how much you can get done in a given amount of timeRead more ›

  • 19: How to regain control of your inbox

    19: How to regain control of your inbox

    Product managers just loooove solving problems and answering questions. Emails present us with an enticing list of both, which is why we find it so hard to tear ourselves away from them. I reveal how you can regain control of your inbox after the break!Read more ›

  • 18: Five ways to manage distractions better

    18: Five ways to manage distractions better

    As product managers, our workload intensity tends to be cyclical and sometimes these cycles can stack up. Distractions can seriously dent your ability to Get Stuff Done™, so here are five things you can try out to manage distractions more effectively.Read more ›

  • 17: Remember your manners

    17: Remember your manners

    My folks brought me up to remember my manners. I consider I’ve perhaps taken this a little too far when I find myself apologising to people in London who have just shoulder-barged me into the path of an oncoming bus. But manners are important, especially for a product manager, where your success relies on the…

  • 16: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone – Joni Mitchell

    16: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone – Joni Mitchell

    People value something most when they’ve just lost it or come close to doing so. If your product prevents this happening, take some advice from Joni Mitchell: you need to save your client the heartache of loss by helping them remember how much they value what they have now so that they don’t take it…

  • 15: Product management is selling

    15: Product management is selling

    Contrary to what you may think, most of product management is actually selling. You are continually selling new product concepts, ideas for improvement as well as pitches for projects. What you may not realise is that what most people think is selling isn’t actually selling.Read more ›

  • Drowning in product documentation? Start swimming – Part 2

    Drowning in product documentation? Start swimming – Part 2

    We’re looking at the kinds of information that specific groups of people need to know during the lifecycle of your product and why they’re so interested in the first place. Last time we covered the steps from idea through to convincing people to part with some cash to build it. Now we’re going to look…

  • 14: There is always more work to do. Don’t burn yourself out

    14: There is always more work to do. Don’t burn yourself out

    One of the easiest ways to spot a product manager in the wild is to look for the slightly frazzled person with the longest to-do list and a determined look in their eye. While I think we generally enjoy keeping ourselves busy, I’ve often noticed over a beer with colleagues that we (myself included) also…

  • 13: You’ve got to start the race before you can finish it

    13: You’ve got to start the race before you can finish it

    Sometimes the role of product management can be a little overwhelming. There’s often so much to do that you can feel at a loss for where to begin. But did you know that ancient Greek philosophers contended with the same problem?Read more ›

  • 12: Keep it simple, stupid

    12: Keep it simple, stupid

    I’m writing about 100 things I’ve learned as a product manager. Don’t make things any more complicated than they need to be.  Keep it simple. (That is all) Get articles when they’re published My articles get published irregularly (erratically, some … 12: Keep it simple, stupid Read More »

  • Drowning in product documentation? Start swimming – Part 1

    Drowning in product documentation? Start swimming – Part 1

    Do you spend more time writing documents about your product than actually managing it? Many companies with some kind of product management function become all caught up in the process, drowning themselves in increasing numbers of documents. These rapidly become overwhelming to manage, contain duplicated detail and ultimately obscure the real objective of product management,…

  • 11: You are allowed to say ‘no’ – it’s strategic

    11: You are allowed to say ‘no’ – it’s strategic

    Product managers hate saying ‘no’. It’s not in our nature to disappoint people.Read more ›

  • 10: Give yourself time to think in a straight line

    10: Give yourself time to think in a straight line

    One of the many personal challenges I’ve faced in my working life was to overcome my natural tendency towards being erratic. I’m not talking about endearing (to me at least) eccentricities, more about practical things such as a rubbish memory for dates and poor time management. Throw in a crisis and I could generally be…

  • Book recommendation – The Case for Working with Your Hands

    Book recommendation – The Case for Working with Your Hands

    The Case for Working with Your Hands: or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good by Matthew Crawford (Amazon) I appreciate that it is somewhat perverse to recommend a book to you that ostensibly advocates … Book recommendation – The Case for Working with Your Hands Read More »

  • 9: Everything benefits from a good start in life

    9: Everything benefits from a good start in life

    Don’t you find that it is always so hard to recover something that started badly? Whether it’s a development project, a product launch, or a new starter in your team, you can be reasonably certain that each will benefit from a good start in life.Read more ›

  • 8: Empathise, empathise, empathise

    8: Empathise, empathise, empathise

    Empathy is something every product manager needs to be able to do their job well. Without it, it’s impossible to be sure what matters most to your target market and how valuable a solution to their problems will be. Empathise!Read more ›

  • 7: Public speaking is as much about how you say it as well as what you say

    7: Public speaking is as much about how you say it as well as what you say

    Closely related to presenting well is the art of public speaking. While not everyone is thrilled at the prospect at standing up and speaking in front of colleagues or strangers, it is a skill that can be acquired. As you become more proficient, you’ll be able to control your nerves better before a presentation and…

  • 6: Good presentation skills are not the same as good PowerPoint skills

    It is inevitable that you will need to stand up and give a presentation at some point during your career as a product manager. Some people dislike presenting more than others; that’s natural. Whether you love or hate the sound of your own voice, try some of the following tips to ease some of the…

  • Lean, green, micro machines

    Lean, green, micro machines

    I’m still hunting for a replacement firewall server and some low-power desktop machines, without necessarily compromising on performance. Mind you, I’m looking for a Linux-based firewall, not a gaming machine, so ‘performance’ may be overstating things. A quick hunt on the internet later and I’m amazed by how quickly the micro PC market is continuing…

  • 5: The best possible way may not necessarily be the right way

    5: The best possible way may not necessarily be the right way

    We product managers are a surprisingly upbeat bunch considering that we seem to spend a good proportion of our time making compromises. We very rarely get the opportunity to deliver everything we need in a product in the best possible way.Read more ›

  • 4: Don’t focus on what’s stopping you

    4: Don’t focus on what’s stopping you

    Product managers can be creatures of habit. Some habits are good and give us a consistent and diligent approach. Sometimes, though, we allow ourselves to be constrained by habitual thinking, inhibiting true innovation. What’s stopping you?Read more ›

  • 3: Know your subject matter

    3: Know your subject matter

    So much of being a product manager depends on successfully persuading and influencing others. Whether you’re presenting your product strategy, presenting a business case to the Board or talking with your customers, you need to know your subject matter: to demonstrate a good knowledge of your products and market to ensure that you come over…

  • 2: Find problems rather than guess solutions

    2: Find problems rather than guess solutions

    When we start thinking about the requirements for a new product version, I bet we all make the same mistake when deciding what goes in: we guess solutions rather than find problems.Read more ›

  • 1: Be fluent in the language of your audience

    1: Be fluent in the language of your audience

    One of the roles a product manager or product marketing manager plays is to act as a translator between different groups of people. Sometimes this can be in a literal sense, if your responsibilities span different countries, but more generally this means translating between the market, Sales, Marketing and Development as a minimum.Read more ›

  • OMG EOL – LOL (or: How to take a product to end of life)

    OMG EOL – LOL (or: How to take a product to end of life)

    Product managers are full of contradictions: if we’re not busting a gut to launch something, we’re trying to kill our older products off.Read more ›

  • Painting the Forth Bridge

    Painting the Forth Bridge

    There is a popular myth that in order to protect its metalwork from the salty ravages of the nearby North Sea, the Forth Bridge needed to be painted to keep it proofed against corrosion. The task took so long that, by the time the painters finished one job, it was immediately time to begin over.Read…

  • Lo-fi usability testing – Part 3: Ten top tips

    Lo-fi usability testing – Part 3: Ten top tips

    In the thrilling* conclusion to this lo-fi usability testing trilogy, we get down to the nitty-gritty of how to run the tests and how to interpret and act on the results. * It all depends on your perspectiveRead more ›

  • Lo-fi usability testing – Part 2: Preparation

    Lo-fi usability testing – Part 2: Preparation

    In this second instalment of this series on lo-fi usability testing, I’ll be showing you what you need to do to prepare for your usability tests.Read more ›

  • Lo-fi usability testing – Part 1: Background

    Lo-fi usability testing – Part 1: Background

    You can run lo-fi usability testing in a single afternoon that will uncover 80% of the problems your product has, with only a pen, some paper and access to the software or website.Read more ›

  • What will your leaving speech sound like?

    What will your leaving speech sound like?

    A good friend and colleague recently left our firm to take on a more senior product management role elsewhere. His boss and his boss’s boss stood next to him and gave him a glowing and sincere send-off, with the leaving speech striking that good balance between “we’re sad to see you leave” and “go out,…

  • How to get your sales team selling value instead of discounting

    How to get your sales team selling value instead of discounting

    Does your sales team sell your products (like, in exchange for money), or does it give them away as generous sweeteners to guarantee the sale of something else that will hit their targets? Or to put it in another way, does your salesforce truly understand the value of your products and can it articulate the…

  • Pre-empting customer churn

    Pre-empting customer churn

    How much would you invest to prevent a mass customer exodus? Everything Everywhere, the merged T-Mobile / Orange behemoth, was happy to spend £150 per customer to shore up its customer base following the post-merger restructuring. What did it gain? A reduction in monthly churn from 1.7% to 1.3%, significant given their customers number well…

  • What should product managers keep an eye on in 2011?

    What should product managers keep an eye on in 2011?

    What should product managers keep an eye on in 2011?Read more ›

  • 7 guiding principles for product install / upgrade usability

    7 guiding principles for product install / upgrade usability

    I was discussing recently the importance of getting a product installation or upgrade process right for customers. Here are some guiding principles from a usability perspective that you may wish to consider when defining your product’s requirements.Read more ›

  • Easier product forecasting

    Easier product forecasting

    Do you find it difficult to set appropriate financial targets for your product?Read more ›

  • 33 cut-out-and-keep usability requirements for your product

    33 cut-out-and-keep usability requirements for your product

    I strongly believe that all software companies should have a manifesto or a set of guidelines for usability.Read more ›

  • DIY Eco Linux Fileserver (part 2)

    DIY Eco Linux Fileserver (part 2)

    Earlier this month, I was attempting to appease my wife by reducing my server’s power consumption physical footprint. In this follow-up, I’ll give you an update on how I got on and pass on a few tips if you’re planning to do the same. Normal I Manage Products service will be resumed in the next…

  • DIY Eco Linux Fileserver (part 1)

    DIY Eco Linux Fileserver (part 1)

    Every now and again, I undertake a DIY tech project. I think it’s because I’m a geek at heart and I like to think to myself a little smugly, “still got it”. This time the brief actually came from my lovely wife: shrink the physical footprint and electricity consumption of the servers running 24/7 in…

  • The thorny issue of pricing

    The thorny issue of pricing

    Ah, pricing. Always a thorny topic for product managers as it’s one those more subjective areas of the job. I’d love to have some kind of oracular spreadsheet that foresees how much customers would be willing to pay for my new product. Ironically, I would pay good money for such a thing…Read more ›

  • The problem with successful products

    The problem with successful products

    A product manager who thinks they’ve got an easy ride because their product is a cash cow is probably missing the point. While failing or unpopular products have a more obvious set of problems to tackle, successful ones have a different set of arguably trickier problemsRead more ›

  • Why aren’t sales selling my new product?

    Why aren’t sales selling my new product?

    There are many reasons why Sales may be holding back on your new product. As we all know, Salespeople are by nature shy, retiring types, who need constant reassurance. You need to encourage and nurture them, delicate little flowers that they are. Or at the very least, restrain the urge to run screaming at them…

  • Ill communication

    Ill communication

    Ah, emails. How did we manage without them? Personally, I think quite well. Now we appear to be unable to tear ourselves away from them. They taunt us in our inbox, begging for attention. They follow us on our mobile devices, so there is no respite. Most importantly, they’re categorically not suited to all situations.…

  • “Why the heck should I upgrade?” – 4 things you’re probably missing

    “Why the heck should I upgrade?” – 4 things you’re probably missing

    You expend a lot of effort getting people to buy your product and they’re happy with it. Time passes. You then go back to your satisfied customers and tell them what they have is now mediocre, so they have to move onto your latest and greatest product version. You see this everywhere, from washing powders…

  • Positive procrastination

    Positive procrastination

    

Everyone but the most tirelessly(and tiresome) self-motivated has at one point or another procrastinated in the face of some worthy activity. I think I’ve found a way to use procrastination for profit and gain; read on to see whether I have…Read more ›

  • 4 key ways to spot a successful product manager

    4 key ways to spot a successful product manager

    As a product manager, how do you know you’re doing your job well? This article outlines the problem with traditional metrics for product managers and offers some better alternatives for measuring success: communication, ideas, roadmapping, launch and end-of-life.Read more ›

  • Context is everything

    Context is everything

    Your developers may be happiest when they’re hacking gnarly code, leaving you to get on with engaging with the market, but this doesn’t mean you can ignore their need for context – the ‘why’ of their project.Read more ›