Four Honest Lessons from Intercom’s Biggest Product Launch Ever by Mark Ryan

BY Alexander Hipp ON JUNE 25, 2018

On the first World Product Day, late last month, Mark Ryan, a senior product manager from messaging software supplier Intercom in London, gave a deeply personal talk at the probably highest-ever ProductTank venue – the 23rd floor at eSailors in Hamburg. He shared some great lessons on how Intercom has built a new version of its messenger in only four months and involving 150 people in eight product teams.

Lesson 1: A new way of Working

Intercom amended its old process and introduced a method it called Product Forum to be able to collaborate better and keep up its tremendous pace. The team had two personal meetings a week with the leadership team to get feedback, and the engineers and product managers of all the teams involved came together every Monday and Friday to discuss next steps and increase collaboration.

Lesson 2: Embrace Constraints

With a tight schedule of three months from introducing the project to its delivery, Intercom needed to increase the level of constraints like fixed dates and timelines.

Lesson 3: Serendipity

The organisation had to be flexible enough to change direction entirely: The team found out that if they combined two separate projects, they would get their new messenger.

Lesson 4: Product Intuition

Intercom launched the new version of the messenger without its usual beta-first process. However, the company had never before put so much research and data science into a new product. Because of their experience and product intuition, the team was able to make the right decisions even without intensive testing in advance. Still, the decision to skip beta testing required a shift of mindset. They needed to be brave and trust their intuition instead of feeling that they knew everything beforehand.

Mark ended his World Product Day talk with a personal observation on what the essential ingredient was that helped Intercom to ship the new messenger on time.

About

Alexander Hipp

Alexander Hipp is a Product Manager at the largest business network in Germany, XING in Hamburg. He completed his Master's degree in Communication and Media Management in Karlsruhe and London, and has lived in Boston and Hawai'i. When it comes to building products, Alexander is passionate about the right problem definition rather than instantly finding solutions. Alongside his work at XING, he is interested in learning about data science and building voice-only products. Currently, he co-creates a book-recommendation platform for product managers.

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