About The Book: #ProMa Product Management Tools, Methods and Some Off-the-wall Ideas

#ProMa Cover

Based on his popular blog, Dinker Charak brings a collection of tools, methodologies, and some unexpected approaches to Product Management. He also talks about his entrepreneurial journey from the eye of a Product Manager and discusses the strategy and its failures.

Available as Kindle eBook

Early Praise for #ProMa

Sriram Narayan Agile IT Org Design ProMa Dinker Charak
Dinker offers an enjoyable potpourri of helpful advice and ideas from his experience in consulting and his experiments with building products.

– Sriram Narayan, Digital-IT management consultant, ThoughtWorks & Author Agile IT Organization Design
Sriram Narayan Agile IT Org Design ProMa Dinker Charak
Dinker is a magician — in a crisp book that is light and easy to read, he has packed in more than a semester’s worth of high priced B school education, and several years (and many dollars!) worth of lessons from a startup. Pick it up, you will not be disappointed.

– Naren Nachiappan, Co-Founder, Jivox
Devangana Khokhar Gephi Cookbook ProMa Dinker Charak
A brilliant resource for all consultants, irrespective of the role they are in, and not just Product Managers. Dinker has poured his years of experience into this one book. He covers entire life cycle of a product/business evolution and introduces a lot of handy artifacts – checklists, frameworks, tools, etc. – that can be readily used at various stages of evolution. He sheds light on the real-life charms and challenges of building a product and does so in a simple yet eloquent manner. Keep an open mind and give this book a read – you’ll later on thank him for providing a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

– Devangana Khokhar, Senior Data Scientist & Strategist, ThoughtWorks & Author Gephi Cookbook
Dinker is quirky, interdisciplinary and full of real-world wisdom. The same could be said of this breezy new book on Product Management.

There are plenty of simple ProMa tools you can use every day – ‘Product in a Box’ and ‘Five buckets of Product Management’ stand out. There is also the philosophical exploration of the subject through lenses as varied as Indian materialism, Francis Bacon (he of the scientific method), and Rene Descartes. Most remarkably, there is a vivid tale of a failing startup – something any product entrepreneur will benefit from.

If you’re a product manager or work with these sometimes-mysterious creatures, take a copy on your next flight. You’ll have a spring in your step when you land.

– Nagarjun Kandukuru, Principal Digital Strategist, ThoughtWorks
"Who is my customer? Everybody, anyone you can think of—"

"Who is my competition? Amazon, Google, Netflix— (add any popular name in the Silicon Valley)."

"Who am I? I am a technology company who happens to do X (the industry this company should be in, till I probably walked in)."

This is what I keep hearing from the C-Suite at the clients I am engaged with.

In this world of needing and wanting to reinvent (or else—you are doomed), the most common response I have seen people resort to is by saying we have moved to a "product organisation" or an "experience organisation". This, no one will argue, needs change.

However, Dinker continues to argue that the challenges lie in the core philosophy. It’s not an easy journey. I can guarantee you will fail if you thought reading this book will solve the challenges of "product thinking".

But here lies a great starting point from a great product philosopher, thinker, transformer, doer and practitioner, and above all, a great colleague and a friend.

Read on, but engage with him when you get a chance. He will not fail to surprise you.

– Sagar Paul, Client Services – Strategic Accounts, at ThoughtWorks

Why the Book #ProMa and Why Now?

Product Management is an accidental and a new role. It is gaining importance as a pivotal for a Product based business. Being new, there are no set definitions, job descriptions or even well-known educational courses. In fact, in IT industry, Product Managers come from the most diverse set of background and may not always be technical or even have an MBA.

As opportunities for Product Managers grow, it is natural that consulting organization start offering this as a consulting role. This increases the complexity of the job.

As the role evolves, all this leave a new-comer with lots of questions about how to go about the job.

This book is based on the real and personal experience of being in this role in a variety of situations and draw upon the experience and output of last decade. Thus, the book also presents an opportunity to establish some Thought Leadership in this domain.

About the Book #ProMa

“Based on his popular blog, Dinker Charak brings a collection of tools, methodologies, and some unexpected approaches to Product Management. He also talks about his entrepreneurial journey from the eye of a Product Manager and discusses the strategy and its failures.”

Each chapter is complete in itself and focused on a specific theme. Some chapters may rely on concepts introduced in details in a previous chapter. However, a reader can still benefit from it without know details from the earlier chapters.

Some ideas are results of extended discussions, an opinion sought or a point-of-view constructed for a client. All of them are the result of sincere effort to produce something useful and usable. And at times, something unique.

The book is divided into three sections.

The first section (chapters 1-6) is about various tools & methods I have created and used for Product Management. These include the Product Management Canvas and the Product workshops I run.

The second section (chapters 7-18) is about various thoughts and ideas that I have around what it means to be a Product Managers and around Product Management.

The third section (chapters 19-26) is about entrepreneurship and based on my experience as a founder who hasn’t succeeded yet. It also has some ideas on team building, mainly around a novel concept of Dirty-Work Group.

Key Takeaway from the Book #ProMa

The book covers the entire lifecycle of a product/business evolution and introduces a lot of handy artifacts - checklists, frameworks, tools, etc. - that can be readily used at various stages of evolution.

There are plenty of practical ProMa tools you can use every day and also the philosophical exploration of the subject through lenses as varied as Indian materialism, Francis Bacon (he of the scientific method), and Rene Descartes and Sociology.

Who is the Target Audience For the Book #ProMa

The First Timer:

Has a tech, business or design background. Is now a Product Manager for a B2C product. Is poly-skilled enough to get the job but worried if is knowledgeable to pull it along.

An Experienced ProMa:

Has been a ProMa in an Enterprise that is building a B2B product. Has done MBA and/or has a technical background. With the expectation of B2B products to respond to market at speed of startups and with Usability of B2C products, is looking for ideas on how to reinvent the attitude towards this job.

An Entrepreneur / Founder:

Realising that a Founder is the first Product Manager of the startup’s Product, the Founder wants to ensure a proper approach is taken and not detail falls through the cracks and is looking for tools and checklists to ensure all basis are covered.

Business Folks:

ProMa help monetise a business opportunity via a Product. For key business owners, it is important to understand what a ProMa does and how does a ProMa think. This book can help them understand the variety of aspects of a ProMa, gain a better appreciation and establish meaning and deep partnerships.

About the Author of the Book #ProMa

#ProMa Author Dinker Charak

Dinker Charak has over 17 years of rich, diverse experience in the software industry building products that matter.

During his career, he has built software products that have been part of Real-time Operating Systems, Paperless Offices, Home Automation, help develop Online Video Ads business and founded a startup. Dinker was worked at Fermilab (US) and contributed to CERN (Switzerland), two top research lab that conducts basic research into particle physics. He holds a patent in Advertising Technology.

As personal interests go, Dinker holds Product Management Workshops for startups in collaboration with IIM Ahmedabad, CIIE, NASSCOM's 10,000 Startups and ThoughtWorks.

Dinker has done Master in Computer Application from International Institute of Professional Studies, Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/ddiinnxx

Blog: http://www.ddiinnxx.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dinkeratwork

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dinkercharak/

Professional Profile: https://www.thoughtworks.com/profiles/dinker-charak

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ddiinnxx

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_IUZYlwwD4F1ZZ_BKU7FD3ll0BJS7rBr

Using Product Management Canvas for Your Product

Using Product Management Canvas Product

Your organisation

Your org is one among these:

1) A startup or an SME company. Hopefully there is not much of hierarchy and ‘Individual Contributors’ in how most of you describe yourself.

2) A startup or a stable mid-sized org that is scaling up. You have great ‘Individual Contributors’ and a set of senior folks who make sure the ICs are focused on their efforts and are cared for well.

3) You are a large org or an enterprise that is managing BAU and seeking innovations via multiple smaller initiatives. There are processes in place to ensure that the right folks have the right authority to decide regarding what they an accountable for.

Now, things are never ideal. But let us assume that you are in an excellent organisation.

Your Role

Based on the organisation you are in, you may be playing the role of a Founder, Product Owner, Product Manager, Solution Manager, Program Manager or a GM of a Product Line. Whatever the scale of your role, you are responsible for delivering a product that brings profitability and repute to your organisation.

Your Mission

Many tools are available for you to accomplish your job. However, communicating the Why, the key capabilities and the adoption path of the product will always remain the key pieces of information you will need to communicate far, wide and deep within year organisation.

There is enough talk of evangelisation of the product in the market. However, there is equal and important need to evangelise within your org. This communication has to be simple, crisp and easily digestible.

No product is developed in isolation. It is a journey from conceptualisation to development, to release to usage to monetisation and finally for re-invention or sunset. Many groups and departments come into the picture.

This is where the Product Management Canvas comes in.

Your Product Management Canvas

Product Management Canvas is a tool to articulate your product, describing the key elements that should be known far, wide and deep among your team.

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

You will notice, this Canvas makes you articulate the Idea behind it, the market it addresses, customer segment within that market, business value it delivers, features and capabilities, metrics and makes you aware of all the collaterals that you should have handy and linked to. Finally, it will hold you honest and reduce excessive optimism by making you state various risks.

All this in one page / slide / canvas. This single page becomes the communication about your product to all of the org far, wide and deep. Share it via email, hang on the wall where your team sits and or even print it on a team T-Shirt. Once you have this articulation, you can share the why, the key capabilities and the adoption path of your product in a crisp and readable format.

Wishing your product success!

More About Product Management Canvas

Product Management Canvas – Product in a Snapshot

Hackathon: From Idea to a Product in a Day

Download Product Management Canvas (pdf)

 


 

Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy in 4 Steps

Go-To-Market (GTM)

To develop a Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy, I suggest following four steps:

1 Know Your Product Well

Quick Guide GTM Strategy Dilbert New Product Knowledge

It is OK for Sales superstars in Dilbert world to know little about the product. But you have to know it very well to devise a successful Go-to-market strategy. Not only that, you should be able to describe it in sufficient detail to other departments in your company.

Product Management Canvas is one such tool. It captures the product in one canvas and gives a good 360-degree view.

2 Ask Yourself Three Fundamental Questions

2.1 What to sell?

What exactly are you selling? This has to be articulated for each customer segment and each value prop.

Many times a solution could be combinations of your products. In that case, above needs to be done for all product combinations.

2.2 Whom to sell?

Depending on if you are a new product or a mature product, your userbase and customers would differ.

If you are a new product, identify key influencers, usual suspects among early adopters and focus on reaching an early majority.

If you are a matured product, identify key late majority and laggards. Decision makers in large enterprises (like the CTO’s office, the Procurement division) can help you situate yourself stronger while the product team keeps innovating to keep your product relevant to your client.

The key is to identify right recommenders and decision influencers for long-term success.

2.3 How to sell?

Pricing is complex. Sometimes, it is easy to start with tiered prices that allow you to serve small-scale, small-budget customers to allow for revenue while you hunt for large ones. You must have seen ones like this:

Go To Market GTM Strategy Pricing Sample

Your Pricing strategy should have such Pricing models and option to use channels to accelerate sales.

3 The Sales Funnel

We know the typical sales funnel. It is the journey of your customer from when they become aware of your product to when they actually buy it to when they choose to rebuy it.

The journey in short:

Awareness -> Consideration -> Research -> Selection -> Purchase -> Delivery -> Support -> Repeat Purchase -> Recommendation to Buy

Understand it is very important and a plan to how to egg them on to the next stage.

4 Work on These Nineteen Tasks

  1. Time of Launch
  2. Launch Strategy and Collaterals
  3. Sales and Delivery Channels
  4. Positioning and Promotion Strategy
  5. Decision Makers and Influencers
  6. Recommenders
  7. Sales Collateral
  8. Content Strategy
  9. Marketing Collateral
  10. User Support Docs
  11. Training Collaterals
  12. Change Management
  13. Social Media Assets
  14. Digital Marketing Assets
  15. Brand Playbook
  16. Pricing Model Experiments
  17. Market Positioning
  18. Competitive Positioning
  19. Ecosystem Map

 

Product Management Canvas – Product in a Snapshot

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

The Product Management Canvas (PMC), is a strategic management and entrepreneurial articulation tool. It allows one to describe a product having the highest return on investment versus risk.

This is different from Product Model Canvas or Roman Pichler’s Product Canvas.

Where Does Product Management Canvas Fit?

Let us understand the Product Flow. I have talked about it earlier in the Hackathon: From Idea to a Product in a Day post.

 

Using Product Management Canvas

To summarise the flow diagram:

Using Elevator Pitch & Product in a Box, we describe the product we want to build. However, no product exists in a vacuum and is part of an ecosystem. We then layout the Product Ecosystem that enables the key product. The product is then described using the Product Management Canvas.

A Product Management Canvas then informs the process of Epics. Adding a business case to these we arrive at a Product Backlog. Each item in the Product Backlog can lead to one or more stories. When these stories Go Live and the hit the market, in the spirit of build-measure-learn, we learn and periodically do the Product Backlog Grooming.

The Elevator Pitch & Product In A Box, (Lean) Business Model Canvas, High-Level Products Layout and Product Management Canvas are explained in the blog post above.

Epics, Product Backlog, Stories and Build-Measure-Learn are standard terms that are described as part of the Agile process.

I think this sits one step before Roman Pichler’s Product Canvas and used to plan and describe a product, rather than track the agile product creation/development.

Understanding The Product Management Canvas

The canvas started as a checklist for Product Managers to ensure they have not missed any aspect of Product planning. However, it was always aimed to capture the current state of an evolving product. Thus, Product Management Canvas should be used to communicate across various groups and departments to ensure all have the same picture of the product.

Using The Product Management Canvas

Using Product Management Canvas Steps

The suggested flow is:

  1. Idea
  2. Market
  3. Customer Segment
  4. Business Value
  5. Features
  6. Metrics
  7. Evangelism
  8. Visual Identity
  9. Go To Market
  10. Key Resources
  11. Risks

Now let is look at each section in detail:

Product Management Canvas (PMC)

Idea

We start with describing the original problem or opportunity that the product addresses. It can be a unique need, a dormant need (we are creating the market) or aspiration (of the user/customer) that needs to be addressed.

Once the above is stated, it is important to connect it what the idea of the product and state how it addresses the above.

Market

Start by stating the market size (defined as the market volume or the market potential). VCs will want this to be a very big number. Big enough to accommodate you and all your competition.

The state the market opportunity your product addresses from the whole market size. This should be a more realistic number that should allow you sufficient growth so as to allow you to give investors a good rate of return.

A product never exists in a vacuum. There is an ecosystem of partners that enable it. We should note all key partners (data suppliers, data consumers, channels, SDKs and so on).

What’s fun without any competition? It is important to note competition and track them. If you have analysed competition in detail, you can add the link to that document. My thoughts on how to do Competition Analysis.

Customer Segment

Identifying if the product is B2B or B2C is sometimes obvious. But going one level deeper is important. (does my B2B target Startup, SME, Business Houses, MNC, etc. or does my B2C target BPL, LMC, MC, UMC, HNI, etc.) is important.

Does my B2B target Startup, SME, Business Houses, MNC, etc. or does my B2C target BPL (Below Poverty Line), LMC (Lower Middle Class), MC (Middle Class), UMC (Upper Middle Class), HNI (High Networth Individuals), etc.)?

Also important is to identify Early Adopters, Influencers, Recommenders and Innovators who try something new.

Business Value

Large organisations that create a lot of products need to ensure that there is a product – organization fit. This would involve making sure that it fits in tot established ecosystems, reuses tools used, etc and does not create whole parallel infrastructure requirements.

The product – market fit is very important and needs to be articulated crisply.

There are many revenue models available and many times the same product will have multiples of them. State the considered revenue models in this section.

Cost Analysis is a complex task but having a broad idea of the cost of producing the product that reflects the pricing model is recorded. Even when the aim is to invest in seeding the product, it is important to state and communicate the revenue – cost ratio.

It is important to state the key Regulatory & Compliance items. These should not slip through cracks of day-to-day tasks.

Features

It is important to state the value propositions / USP and communicate it uniformly. Not every differentiation is a USP, nor should it be. Along with USP, the other key features that set us apart, make usage simple or make us better than competition should also be noted.

Metrics

We all talk about success metrics. But before a product is successful there are some metrics that are minimal a product should achieve. These should not be ‘not meeting success metrics’, but independent ones.

Eg: while achieving an MAU of 1M is the success for your chat app, the number of messages exchanged is not growing at the same rate as user adoption is a failure metric.

Failure metrics are important as they tell us how key hypotheses could be wrong and it is time to reassess them and re-learn and re-build.

Viability metrics are good to have to make sure we are on track to success.

Evangelism

Product evangelism is, as Guy Kawasaki put it years ago, “selling the dream.”  It’s helping people to imagine the future, and inspiring them to help create that future.

Many things need to fall into place for an Evangelist to be effective. This section offers a checklist of essential items need to enable an evangelist.

This includes an elevator pitch, relevant content generation is a content strategy to keep it updated, uniform terminology across all departments and collaterals, SEO strategy so content is geared to show up in right searches, right brand assets, and social media presence.

Using all possible social networks is not the right approach. Choose and state ones that are relevant to the product, the audience and manageable by the team.

Visual Identity

This section offers a checklist of essential items need to establish a visual identity.

Product name, logo, icons, brand playbook, presentation/docs/stationery templates, product docs templates, Social Network assets (cover picture, etc.) and display ads assets.

Go To Market

This section offers a checklist of essential items to formulate an effective go to market strategy.

In the case of a new product, time of launch is an important date/period. Product Manager should initiate and collaborate in the launch strategy & related collaterals, describing sales and product delivery channels, positioning & promotion strategy, identify and help reach out to decision makers, influencers & recommenderssales collateral, marketing collateral, user support docs and training collaterals.

Often a product leads to changes in processes and people. The product manager has to think about a change management template.

Key Resources

Stating key resources is important as it allows a product manager to track them. This includes licenses (eg: SSL licenses as anybody can forget to renew on time like this, this and this), 3rd party platforms like SDK, analytics tools, etc.

Risks

State the known shortcomings and assumptions made. This helps plan the build-measure-learn better.

Product managers need to be paranoid about the product getting disrupted. Disruption Readiness is important to consider by identifying processes and methods that can be all be replaced in one go.

More

 


 

The Edge of Product Management: Talk at Institute of Product Leadership

Product Management Talk Institute of Product Leadership

I gave a talk to the students of Executive MBA at Institute of Product Leadership, Bangalore on 19th Nov 2016. It was a conversation around Product Management, industry practitioners approach to it and what’s new in this domain.

I also shared some new ideas I am toying around with and sought the feedback. It was a lively discussion.

SlideShare.net: http://www.ddiinnxx.com/slideshare-edge-product-management/

SpeakerDeck: http://www.ddiinnxx.com/speakerdeck-edge-product-management/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvp-I-vymp0


Product Thinking – UX Design + Product Management + Business Model

Before we start on Product Thinking, it will be good to understand what a Product is.

Product is something that is the result of a process.

Now, in software world, how does this apply. Let us see:

Product is something that is result of a software process.

This is better. However, is Design (Experience Design, etc) a software process? Not really. However, it is a process in itself. So, an updated definition then:

Product is something that is result of a design & software process.

Better. However, I am of the opinion that a product without a business model is neither sustainable nor a solution.

So, let us add that to the mix.

Product is something that is result of a design & software process and has a business model.

OK, there! Now we proceed to Product Thinking.

Product Thinking

Here is it in one diagram:

Product Thinking

Product Thinking is not the process of product creation itself. It is thinking of the product along with the whole ecosystem. The ecosystem is often a combination of:

  • Target Audience
  • Problem
  • Strategy
  • Objective / Vision / Goal
  • Features
  • User Experience
  • User Environment
  • Process of Making
  • Revenues

Based on Product Management Canvas, we can defined Product Thinking as:

Building on the value your customers will need to achieve business goals measured using related success and failure metrics with providing well designed experience using a well-defined go-to-market strategy and support.

Note: Need v/s Will Need

You will notice, I said ‘will need’ rather than ‘need’. Lot of innovations anticipate a need to create a new one. So, to acknowledge that, a ‘will’ has been added.

Note: Platforms v/s Channels

Platforms (backend, APIs, multi-tenancy, etc) benefit from System Centric design (eg: System Thinking) while Channels (apps, websites, devices, kiosks, etc) which humans interact with benefit from User Centric design (eg: Design Thinking).

Reference

https://designyourthinking.com/product-thinking-an-introduction/
https://medium.com/@jaf_designer/why-product-thinking-is-the-next-big-thing-in-ux-design-ee7de959f3fe
http://www.ddiinnxx.com/shuhari-learn-digress-transcend/
https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/product-thinking-is-problem-solving
https://www.devbridge.com/articles/product-thinking-build-what-your-customer-needs/

 

Product Management Role During Project Inception

product-management-role-project-inception-feature

There have been some question on how introduce Product Thinking and Product Management role during Project Inception. I and few other colleagues have been discussing theProduct Management role (ProMa) topic a lot.

As of today, this is how I see the flow. This flow is heavily influenced by experience on one day Product Management workshop that have attended by over 100 folks till now and various inceptions I have attended.

product-management-role-project-inception-feature

We follow the same visioning as we do in Inception. However, when we do epics, we convert them into a Product Backlog. Each Product Backlog will lead to multiple stories. What is different in a Product Backlog is some quantification of business value it delivers and metrics on how to measure it.

When stories go live and get consumed by users, we can measure and learn. This learning is brought back as part of analysis and grooming on the Product backlog (not Story / Development Backlog).

Re-prioritization of Product Backlog can affect the stories that picked up next.

More on this in coming days as it gets ironed out. Including what does a Product Backlog looks like.