product management

My first year in Product Management

Time flies. Really. Last year has gone by so quickly. My first year in Product Management.

my first year in product management david roch

First, a bit of background. Last October I took a big decision. I left my job at a digital communications agency to join a software company. It wasn’t only pivoting the project as I also changed my role completely. From a content creator and marketing manager I jumped in the deep to became the Product guy in a SaaS (Software as a Service) company.

It was such a big pivot. Specially when I had no prior (proper?) experience in a Product Management role before and MarketGoo didn’t neither have an established Product team structure or methodology to join. Yikes!

As Obi Wan pointed out: “Who is the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?”. But even though the situation was unclear, the project was growing, had a clear vision and the intention to give more care to Product. And myself, apart from my journalistic/marketing experience I’ve always been interested in building/creating/growing things (Windmill Clothing, Start UC3M, my Youtube channel, etc). So going back to the moment and connecting the dots now, I believe there was a fit in the passion, hope there was in the potential and I’m pretty sure there was also in the culture.

Several months later I read in the book Rework, “hire managers of one”. Good learning for hiring Product people, btw.

So, having the opportunity to be implicated in building software from scratch to be used by several thousands of customers was difficult to reject. Well, I did not. Instead, I left behind almost two years working in remote from home to join a proper office with a team.

First 3 months. It’s funny now and I remember it with a distorted point of view but these moments were hard. I was making my space inside a new role, a new company, a new team, a new industry, etc. The list goes on a on. Onboarding Companies 101. Everyone was very helpful but at MarketGoo we foster autonomy and it doesn’t happen overnight.

January. This is when I started to enjoy everything about the project. Needles to say that I felt more involved and the Kick Off trip we took to Lanzarote was responsible for this. It was the first time I took an active part on the Roadmap discussion and we set the goals for the whole year. An exercise that drove all the decisions afterwards and now key in our methodology.

World Hosting Days 2016. I connect our participation in one of the most important events in the industry with my next milestone. It helped me to open my mind, leave the cave and have an bird’s-eye view of the market: meeting our partners, pitching our product and understanding which should be our next steps.

Summer. At this point, maybe around July, I felt myself in a really comfortable position, that is to say I was taking decisions, planning the product development process on a regular basis while being decisive in the launch of the projects. As it is meant to be for a Product Manager in a company like ours.

Now. Now what? Well, comparing with the beginning it’s super easy to see the evolution, as the learning curve started from zero. However, I want this exercise to be also self-critical.

But before, let’s explain a bit further about my role:

  • Project Management. It’s all about the process. As a software company we have the huge challenge of making the most out of every sprint. My team mate Jaime worked on this dope new workflow that has really helped us to be more productive and enjoy the pace. Still there’s a lot of room for improvement but it’s a hell of a great starting point. My responsibility here (just like a Product Owner) is to be always aligned with Jaime (say, Scrum Mater) prioritizing tasks required from different stakeholders (Biz Dev, Marketing, partners, etc) for the Dev team to accomplish and supporting the process.
  • Product design. The Product team is responsible for an ongoing improvement of our value proposition (projects, products, features, etc). Initiatives that are built in the major part by the Dev team, that must be curated before they get to them. That means wireframing interfaces, specifying new features, analyzing performance and researching trends.
  • Customer Success. Seriously? You talking about Customer Service? That didn’t seem sexy at all. But hey, I was wrong. To be close to our customers has been one of the most exciting discoveries i’ve made so far. We can understand what they need, what they think about our product or what they like and hate, in order to help them to be successful.
  • Culture Executor. I just made up the term but as we give a lot of importance to corporate culture this is something that requires time and effort. Everybody shares ideas and plans that need executing arms.

Also, some useful skills for a role like this one are:

  • Vision: I read some time ago that vision must be promoted by the founders and shared by the team. Taking decisions, prioritizing, assuming responsibility and long term commitment comes best when the vision is clear and easy to follow.
  • Flexibility: Naturally Product Managers have been the One Band Man. Not keen experts in one specific field but with a balanced profile to keep everything in motion. I believe here the right attitude is to leave the comfort zone and approach the role with a positive point of view.
  • Eager for learning: As a consequence of the previous, the ever changing technology industry and my fresh landing in a new role.
  • Patience: In our case, we are stable and growing but we have modest resources (at least “have had”). We are not funded nor we have millions in the bank. We are bootstrapped and have our own pace. It’s fine and it will pay back. Yet it is key to be patient, not become frustrated and always make the most out of everything.

And last but really not least. Issues that I need to work on and focus from the very beginning of this second year that I believe would make me a better professional and key for the project to keep growing:

  • Product improvement: Focus on improvements, customer satisfaction and overall success of the product. Building a great tool to help our users to be successful. We are still halfway and the Product team must push in this direction.
  • Data driven: Data as a state of mind. Gathering, ordering and analyzing everything that happens around us to take better decisions and foster the smartest lean methodology possible. Because if not, we will be running blind.
  • SEO expertise: It is core for us being SEO Jedi Masters to keep providing the simplest SEO and website marketing experience while we build a powerful tool aligned with the latest trends in the industry.

Anyhow, one year later, today I’m a happy guy.

Someone that looks excited into the future for what’s next to come!

But I can’t end this post without praising the deepest personal gratitude to my team. And I hold a special one for Wences (CEO and Founder), for believing in me.

Now, my greatest concern is to give back what I get everyday.

See you in the next one 🙂

For further information about MarketGoo and our team, check out this video:

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