5 product management hacks to build great products
In the past 5 years, I had the opportunity to build and ship great consumer products which touches the lives of millions of people around the world. Recently, Branchmetrics invited me to share some of my learnings at Innov8 CoWorking Space along with speakers from UrbanLadder, HeadSpin, Branch.io and Glispa Global.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while building products.
1. Think Big, Start Small
A complex product that works is always an evolution of a simple product that worked.
If you have built a complex product from the scratch, it’s not gonna work. You have to start and figure out that simple product which works. This is relevant for any startup which is about to launch its product or an existing company who is about to launch a new product feature. You may have big ideas, but going to market as soon as possible should be your priority. So find out that simple, small functional part of your overall product that you potential users need the most and launch it. As Reid Hoffman says:
If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.
2. Be obsessed about product definition
Over the last 5 years, I’ve realized startups often spend most of their efforts at the wrong steps of the product development process.
Suppose if you had 100 minutes to finish the end-to-end of a product. Most of the time I’ve seen startups spending time like the following.
85/100 minutes are spent on designing, building and beta testing, so what’s wrong with this process? Well, building a product is a combined effort of various cross-functional inter-dependent teams. To make sure, all the teams work in sync product definition is the most important step. The role of a product manager or a founder is to freeze on his thoughts and communicate the same very clearly across all the cross-functional teams. Why is it so important? It’s simple, it takes time and money to build a product. Each change you make, after the product definition step, will exponentially increase the go-to-market time which in turn increases the total cost of building the product.
So, spend as much time as you can prioritising and defining a product rather than getting lost in the vicious cycle of agile development between designers and developers. It will save lot of product development time and money for your startup.
3. Look at AARRR metrics daily
Make sure you track everything, observe and analyze the pirate metrics on a regular basis. This is very important because the first step of “product prioritization” is dependent on your pirate metrics. Make a habit of looking at data everyday morning while going to the office or starting your day at the office. You may or may not have to take immediate actions but the habit helps you keep numbers at your fingertips whenever you need to make instant decisions about the product. There are several tools to help you track AARRR metrics, here are few of them.
4. One new feature isn’t a solution
Most of the time you’ll think adding a new feature will improve one of my pirate metrics, but in reality, it’s the opposite. Often good products which have a really good core feature has seen a decrease in the engagement of the core features after 2 new features were introduced. So, give a lot of thought on “why” do your users need what you think they need and validate that hypothesis without even writing a single line of code. A new feature is not always the solution for your current problems.
How can you solve your metrics problems then? Well, small incremental efforts towards optimising your AARRR funnels will help you improve your pirate metrics not always a new feature.
4. Celebrate Usage and Not Shipping
This is very common among various product companies — they celebrate shipping of new products/features rather than celebrating usage numbers. Shipping actually means nothing! You have just shipped your products to your users and you have no idea how its adoption is going to be or how it is going to impact your overall AARRR metrics in days to come. Don’t waste your beer and money celebrating shipping of products, instead, keep usage numbers as the targets for your teams and celebrate those moments with your team.
5. Spent 30 mins with your users every day
All of us work from the comfort of our home or office analyzing and taking all sort of hypothesis on what a user wants. After making mistakes repeatedly, I’ve learned that speaking with 2–3 users every day gives you the knowledge and insights about your products which you have never thought about. It helps you know the stories of your users and how your product has been helpful to them in their day to day lives and also gives you relevant ideas on how you can make your product better. Don’t be shy, ask your users for 10 mins and they will be happy to give it you — but the first step is you asking them.
That’s it, I hope these insights will help you build your own startup, improve your current product development process, understand your customers better and improve your startup metrics.