The questions to ask in your first week as a Product Manager
How to get the insights you need to start making a difference
You’ve just started a new product management role in a tech startup/small business. They have high expectations of you.
While you’re onboarding and getting immersed in the company culture, what are you going to do to “understand the product”? After all, the product is your role so getting a fundamental understanding of its ins and outs, ups and downs, whos, whats and whys, is core to your success.
Where do you start?
You need to ask some fundamental and existential questions, and you need to ask a range of stakeholders so that you can see where opinions differ. You’re on a mission to establish some facts, uncover gaps, disconnects and differences of opinion, learn about the hobby-horses, burning issues and gripes. And everything in between.
Your goal is to uncover the insights that will make you shine and be respected
The people you talk to will be very open with you simply because you’re new. They’ll believe that their view is the one you’ll assimilate the most. Be a sponge and suck it all up.
The majority of the questions you need to ask are around the following four high level, existential questions about the business and product:
- Why are we here?
- Where do we want to be?
- How are we going to get there?
- How will we measure progress?
OK, here we go
Why are we here? Why does the product exist?
What’s the value proposition?
What problem are we solving; who are our target customers, what benefits and value are we delivering?
Do all the stakeholder share the same view?
Why do our customers choose us?
How are we different?
Do we have a better product-market fit than our competitors? What are our gaps?
Who are our competitors?
What do we, as a business, want to achieve?
What are our strategic and product goals?
What’s the vision?
What does success look like?
How are we going to get there? How will we achieve our goals and deliver value to our customers?
What’s on the roadmap?
What’s the justification for everything being on the roadmap?
How are they prioritised into their position on the roadmap?
How was the need validated? Where is the evidence to show that each item on the roadmap can be traced back to the validated customer need or business goal?
Does everything fit into the value proposition?
How will we know we are on track to achieve the goals?
Do we have product outcomes supported by all stakeholders?
Do they reflect the business goals and value proposition?
What are we measuring to track progress against goals and outcomes?
What data points are we tracking and reporting regularly?
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but for your first week, it will give you incredible insights into where the product is right now and where your priorities are going to come from. It will also expose what needs your most/immediate attention.
In short, it’s a from-the-people-that-matter picture of what you’ve taken on that will help you hit the ground running. A great starting point that you’ll refer back to often in your first few months.
About Nik Stanbridge
Nik is a product manager with 20 years of experience in tech companies, large and small, startup and enterprise. For more info, visit Orange Mesh Product Management Consulting.
If you enjoyed this article, then please clap and follow me.