When you first start building a product you have a lot of decisions to make. You have to figure out what to build, what to build first, and know how to explain your decisions to both yourself and your team. As the ball starts rolling, keeping track of what to deliver and when as well as measuring the impact of the releases can be overwhelming. Oisin Zimmermann talks about the tools he’s used to set up a new product team. He explains how a platforms such as Productboard help communication and drive discipline and process into the team.
Snapchat: An Case Study in Sense-Making
Oisin refers to the development of Snapchat during the talk and the development of the “My Story” feature. When Snapchat first launched they were generating nearly a million snaps daily. Further analysis into their data showed that it was only 20% of people generating 80% of the snaps. The majority of people were only looking at the snaps they received. They also found that if you had less than 5 friends in the first few days you tended to drop off. During customer interview, users would demand a “Send to all” feature and wanted to minimise the barrier to sending a snap. To top it off, stakeholders worried about the lack of offline browsing content.
How to make sense of all this noise? It can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to product management. In his talk, Oisin proposes that tools such as Productboard can help to structure the information coming in and clarify the next steps. They help you to build data-driven roadmaps based on key quarterly drivers, which is key to ensure you build the right thing first. For example, in the early days of Snapchat they focused on churn. To build their community they needed to prevent users dropping off.
Make Sense, and Guide Purpose
After identifying a key metric, your ideation sessions have more purpose. You can ask yourself how you can nudge that metric up. You can assess each feature in terms of the impact it will have on your driver as well as the effort it will take. You can assimilate qualitative feedback in a structured and analytical form. You can communicate the prioritisation with clarity and objectivity (or as much as is possible).
There’s lots of insightful writing on effective product management processes and decision making. Unfortunately, the day to day tends to be far more rebellious and messy than Medium blogs and O’Reilly books might suggest. Particularly if you’re the first to install these processes in your company. Whether it’s a subscription to a platform or spreadsheet template, having the right tools is a good place to start.