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.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. We very rarely have truly ultimate say-so on the scope of a project; there’s always someone higher ranking that likes to make their mark on the world. Similarly, technology has a habit of getting in the way sometimes. Or pesky compliance issues. And so on.

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Quite a few people are put off usability testing because they think it’s complicated, time-consuming and expensive. What you may not realise is that you can run a set of usability tests in a single afternoon that will uncover eighty percent of the problems your product has. And the only specialist equipment you’ll need is a pen, some paper and the computer you need to access the software or website.

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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 to family cars, so it must work for enterprise software, right? So why are your no-longer-happy customers now chasing you with pitchforks and burning torches?

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Pic courtesy of mmarote - http://bit.ly/dAATu6

There are many questions that a product manager needs to ask to determine the best course of action or to analyse underlying motivations. Of them, I use the following three questions most often:

1. So what?
2. Why?
3. What’s stopping us?

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