PM Resources and Tools

Because of its cross-disciplinary nature of Product Management there are various resources out there each of which help you in one aspect of PM. This page is a repository of all resources I’ve used to educate myself about Product Management as well as tools I use in my day-to-day job to manage products.

It will be a work-in-progress page as I find new and interesting blog posts, books and tools.

What is Product Management?

There is a plethora of answers to this popular question (just search and you’ll see results page after page) but the two that I find most helpful in creating a my mental frameworks are:

Martin Eriksson with his famous venn diagram describes product management as the intersectiwhat_is_a_product_manageron between business, technology and user experience. I totally agree with him in that a good PM must have a core competency in at least one area and be passionate about all three, and conversant with practitioners in all areas. At any stage this simple diagram reminds me on which area I’m concentrating and why it’s important to constantly iterate between all three.

I also found Rowan Simpson post on product management helpful. He expands beyond software development life cycle and articulates on areas that a product manager deals with on his/her day-to-day job.

development-processOne point to keep in mind is that Product Management is a lot more similar to process management in the sense that it’s never ‘done’. You have to give up the notion that a product is done after it’s launched. That’s the key differentiator between Project Management and Product Management.

To combine these two diagrams I categorize product manager responsibilities into 4 areas: Initialize, Develop, Launch and Track. Product management is a cross disciplinary role so many aspects overlaps with jobs like business development, marketing, product design, software development etc.

Initialize phase is when PM focuses most on the business aspect of the product. It’s when you’re poring over the problem. It’s all about understanding customers, ways they handle current situation, what they need and whether the problem is important enough to fix it. This phase focuses less on the solution and more on the problem itself, it’s where a PM has to keep asking ‘Why’ until . There is much to be explored in this area and I share what I learn along the way.

Once sorted out then Development phase begins.

Resources

This section is a combination of books, blogs, articles, videos and podcasts I came across categorized based on the Initiate, Develop, Launch and Track phases mentioned earlier. I don’t have any affiliate links to Amazon and I borrow most of my books from library so I’m going to link to the books to either their original publishers or to Goodreads (which belongs to Amazon anyway!)

One last thing, like many others I look up and follow prominent and important big shot people blogs but I find myself learning, relating and being a lot more excited when I find blogs of some lesser known bloggers and people like me who’re actually learning out loud.

Initiate (Management /Leadership/Strategy/Starting a business):

Rework: Easy to read, inspiring, interesting and refreshing! That’s what comes to my mind when I think about Rework. It’s consists of new rules to try to ingest and integrate into your company and work routine. Rework is definitely worth a read but more importantly it’s worth putting into action plan.

Stratechery: Ben Thompson is one of those big shot people and it’s hard not to be blown away by the wealth of knowledge and insight he has about intersection of technology and almost any other industry.

Conversian Aid: A series of podcasts that talk with software entrepreneurs who have built some thing.

This is Product Management: Is a new podcast that I discovered talking specifically to product managers about a variety of topics.

How to start a Start Up: A series of videos from a start up class in Stanford university hosted by YCombinator. It brings hottest startup CEOs and prominent VCs, advisors etc to talk about different aspect of building a business.

Initiate (Customer Development/Understanding users):

Cindy Alvarez: I love her insightful blog although she hasn’t written new posts in a while I still find going back and reading older posts worthwhile. She mostly focuses on how to connect with customers, what type of questions to ask and how to interpret their feedback. She offers very practical and actionable advice. Her blog helps me to develop soft skills which is harder to find resources on. She is also the author of Lean Customer Developer. Some one my favourite posts:

Kathy Sierra old blog: This blog is an archive of what Kathy wrote about understanding users and building products that matters. Funny, insightful and original, I always learn some thing from it. Kathy Sierra has influenced many people. She has a newer blog but unfortunately not much content. Kathy’s main ideas are about users use a particular product not because that product is awesome but because how that product makes them feel awesome (or make them achieve their goals). I recommend you to see her videos to get familiar with post-UX UX:

Develop (Product Design/User Experience)

User Onboarding: Samuel Hulick got his big break through his funny, witty and practical tear downs on how companies introduce their products to users and how the registration works. He’s written a ebook and published it about onboarding that I like to read. Kathy Sierra’s work has greatly influenced Samuel on what he recommends onboarding should achieve, mostly by making clear path to move user along the way so they know the product and be able to get value from it.

Develop (Requirement gathering, analysis, documentation)

Shardul Mehta’s Street Smart Product Manager blog.

I came across this awesome video from Ryan Singer via Mind the Product blog and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it. It’s a neat method to categories and decouple a million things that comes during product development. It talks about identifying and decoupling tasks ‘orthogonally’. This means that tasks that are not related to each other and can go be done separately without one affecting another.  Ryan also talks through a way to bring designers and developer back to what really matters in product flow as oppose to jumping to details when the big picture is not still clear. I loved how simple, short but super powerful this method can be:

Jobs To Be Done: I’ve written about what Jobs To Be Done framework is and why it’s useful.

Marketing (Product management, Marketing)

Intercom blog: This blog provides thought-provoking, original content on product management, product design, marketing and much more. Among their excellent writers I really like what Paul Adams has written. Here are a couple of my favourite ones:

They have also so far published two books. I read their Product Management book. I learned good tactics about feature audit, criteria to add new features and how to get user to start using features.  I’m planning to read Customer Engagement book as well.

Nathan Berry: A great website with practical advices on self publication, self marketing and working solo. He has a course called ‘Authority’ where he teaches people how to create product, write ebooks and self publish. Nathan follows Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula but is mostly tailored on software folks and mostly on books, apps and such. I haven’t taken his course but I’ve seen success stories from people like Samuel Hulick the man behind user onboard.

NirandFar: An interesting, thought provoking blog about how creating products that create and/or change our habits.

Track (Gathering Feedback, Analytics)

Avinash Kaushik’s Occam Razor blog

Sylvia Ng has an excellent blog that provides great insight on growth marketing.

Bryan Ensinberg is one of my favorite Marketing and Analytics guy, he doesn’t write too much but any thing that I’ve read from him is insightful and valuable to me. I got introduced to his excellent book, Always be testing. If you want to see why he’s awesome just consider watching this video on Buyers Legend:

 

Finally I should point out that like you, I struggle to keep up to keep up with this influx of data. There’s so much to learn and never too much time to ingest all of this knowledge. My goal is not to inundate you because every time I feel overwhelm myself  I remind myself of this great quote from Prof. Adam Porter 🙂

Don’t Forget to Have Fun. It’s Not a Race, So Don’t Run!

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