Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Product Management - Tools in the life of a Product Manager

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In a startup you wear multiple hats.Cross functional skills are highly bvaluable and sought after in a startup ecosystem.
But, most of the times an entrepreneur especially in a product startup would be doing one seminal thing. Performing the role of a PRODUCT MANAGER.

“Helping their Team Ship the Right Product to the Customers”

This is literally the work of a Product Manager according to my observation. Product Management has lately become a very sought after skills in successful & startup product companies.

There’s even an institute in India called Product Leadership – which offers PG programs for professionals on Product Management. Worth checking out if you are interested in the science and art of Product Management.

But, with this task of Product Mnaagembet there are tools which have become indespnable in the day of a Product Mnagaer.

I thought I’d share my favorite tools for helping me accomplish my day-to-day responsibilities as a product manager. These tools fall into three categories: 

  • Team & Collaboration 
  • Customer & End-User feedback
  • Actionable Metrics

Team & Collaboration 

Many of the responsibilities of a product manager involve collaborating, communicating, and coordinating efforts across a team of engineers, designers, product managers, and more. These are the tools I use to most effectively collaborate with the entire team.

Asana is an easy-to-use yet powerful project management tool that lets you track all tasks across the entire team, whether it’s feature suggestions, engineering tasks, bugs, and more. It’s lighter weight compared to more traditional tools like Basecamp, and others. But still supports the collaboration needs of assigning and organizing tasks compared to more simple to do list apps.

Google Docs
I predominantly use Google Docs for all of my documents and spreadsheets since it’s seamless to share and collaborate with others on your team.

I use Evernote mostly to capture and share screenshots of competitors apps, interesting web designs, press mentions, and more.

For the PDFs and Microsoft Office documents that I still can’t get by without in certain scenarios, I love Dropbox for sharing traditional files with the rest of the team.

I find myself constantly sharing screenshots of our product to point out bugs and Cloudapp is the simplest way to take a screenshot and have it instantly uploaded with a shareable url.

Customer & User Feedback 

Equally critical to the product role is having a strong understanding of what user’s love, hate, and want to see in your product. I use the following tools to capture such feedback.

UserVoice is my tool of choice for adding a Feedback tab on every page of your site. It then makes it extremely easy for users to send in feedback, vote up existing feedback, and more.

SnapEngage makes it easy to add a chat window to your app so your users at any time can chat with you to get help with issues, provide feedback, and more. It’s a great way to start a conversation with a user when they are looking for technical support. No better way to understand your users than chatting with them directly.

Wufoo is a great survey tool for asking your users about their experience using your application. I’ve typically automatically sent out such a survey to all users 14 days after signing up to get a constant stream of feedback on user’s initial experience with your product.

Twitter has become a common place for users to express their excitement or frustration for whatever new products they are trying. I have a saved keyword search for our product that I check daily to hear what’s resonating most with members, what frustrates them, as well as what new features they’d like us to add to the product.

Actionable Metrics  

In addition to a qualitative understanding of user feedback, it’s critical to understand usage patterns of users by diving into product analytics.


Mixpanel is the most advanced analytics platform ever for mobile & the web. It help and facilitates customers track product usage, measure conversion rates, and analyze user retention.
It is powerful, beautiful, more or less FREE and easy to use.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is my default & primary analytics tool of choice. It’s the first thing I set up on every site I’ve built. It provides an API to do even more detailed analysis than the product offers itself. I typically have augmented Google Analytics with home grown tools, but typically have those tools still integrate with Google Analytics.

These are the few tools that I have found handy to handle and manage role of a Product Manager at my startup. Do you use the same set of tools ? Does any other important tool needs worth mentioning ?
Share your insights ?

The author thanks Sachin Rekhi - and his seminal blogs on the art of Product Management. .

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