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Product Life Cycle - an undervalued tool for a Product Manager
Align expectations effectively
You onboard a new company or new product team. What do you do first? Let’s write it down as a user story:
As a Product Manager, you have to estimate in which phase of the product life cycle your product is and communcate it, so that you align with the stakeholders’ expectations
Why is it important? @shreyas couldn’t put it better, “The Company > The Role”, it’s all about expectation management. So, your first 1-3 months you have to understand what the organization expects from you, align with that, and then start executing your plan. If you feel that your product doesn’t have a market fit, or that it is in decline, you need to communicate it early on.
How - You may need to talk with key stakeholders for documentation and anecdotes. You definitely have to become the user of your product if feasible and ride together with your users and customers to understand them. You can review the product analytics, and you can ask for additional analysis. You may review the financial track of the product of the company, and realize if there is a point that the numbers show a product that scales (growth), or if you are still in the phase of the market fit.
What - At the end of this period (let’s say 30 days), you need to justify where your product is placed in its product life cycle. You should discuss it with your team, with someone in the product team that you feel more trust (e.g. line manager or another product manager that helped you onboard), and then schedule a meeting with the stakeholders to discuss it. So your findings, explain your reasoning and discuss if you miss something. If they disagree, be open and look for qualitative or quantitative data that explain your reasoning.
What’s next - You should make the Product Life Cycle mapping internal tool, and work to build your product vision, goals, strategy, and roadmap (epic level) for the first year, no more or less. Don’t show the Life Cycle diagram outside your team again before you start delivering parts of the roadmap. Showing frequently will make you look “too academic”, and people in the corporate world don’t like Academia.
Try to start using the product life cycle, and soon you will realize that you will use it more frequently than you expected, to make your decisions and build your roadmaps. You can use it both as an internal and as an internal tool, this is why I love it.
That’s the first post from a series of topics and stories around Product Teams, with emphasis on B2B startups, and teams under the Greek reality.
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