When I started at Pepperjam, the first big objective was to build out our product management capabilities. At the time, I was a new people manager, a new product team manager and the product team was starting from scratch. While we had some staff, we needed to hire more, while we had an existing product stack, we needed to completely revamp it, and while we had an engineering team, the product team wasn’t working as well as it could with engineering to build new products.
Before my first day, I did as much research as I could on best practices and product management to supplement my personal experience in technology and engineering background, but I never found a highly tactical playbook of how to build a product team from scratch from a leader that had actually completed the task.
Most posts were about improving a specific aspect of product management or were too strategic to be helpful to someone in an actual operational role.
I hope this post (and it’s subsequent links) can serve as the guide I wished I had on my first day of building Pepperjam’s product management machine. This will serve as the master post, and I’ll continue to update the links as I finish each segment.
PM Team Guide Target Audience
This guide is meant to discuss, step by step, how to build a product management team from scratch. It is by no means perfect, but it is practical.
Feel free to jump around, but it is constructed in what I believed to be a logical and sequential order.
Most posts will be at a very granular level of detail and focus on implementing a certain aspect of the product management machine.
This guide will also contain knowledge I have gained from working in Private Equity - a couple of examples include presenting to your board and how to produce go to market analyses.
Ideally, you are a VP/Director/Manager of product management folks and have some ability to dictate processes.
If you are an IC/Individual Product Manager, what is detailed in here is great fodder for 1/1’s with your department lead and will hopefully give you an idea of what you need to understand to make it to the next level.
Regardless of your starting place - I’d love to hear from you, especially if this guide has helped you build great products!
PM Team Guide Non-Target Audience
This guide will not be geared around high level instruction commonly seen on the internet. Ex - Why product management is important or 10 tips for faster product releases.
It will not focus on ideological debate between Agile/Scrum/Pick Your Development methodology, but it will focus on the problems the methodology you elect should solve.
This guide also assumes basic to mid-level awareness of product management terminology and what a product management organization is trying to achieve.
If you are looking for an introduction/overview of product management, this guide is way too detailed and tactical. There are several great introductory resources that have covered Product in very helpful ways:
How to Build a Product Management Team From Scratch
Part 0 - Concepts, Terminology, and Tools for High Performance Product Management Machines
BOSS - Business Operations Support System
Principle Over Position
Set Others Up for Success
Wildly Important Goals
Wildly Important Goal Updates & Frequency
Important Over Urgent
Best Practice Template
Product Management Principles & Thinking
Articulating the Value of the Product Team to Your Organization
Product Team Principles
Cost of Process in Product Management
Integrating Remote Employees & Remote Workflows
Why Working Quickly is a Non-Intuitive Competitive Advantage
Maker vs Manager Schedules for the Product Team
Mental Models Relative to Product Management
Rules for Making Good Decisions Relative to Product Management
Decision Making Biases Relative to Product Management
Software Product Design Principles
Product Complexity Versus Difficulty
A Place for Refinement & Innovation
Part 1 - Setup the Product Management Machine
Determine Product Management’s Responsibilities & Tasks Within Your Organization
Product Management’s Responsibilities & Objectives
Product Management Interaction with Engineering
Product Management Interaction with Sales
Product Management Interaction with Marketing
Product Management Interaction with Finance
Product Management Interaction with Account Management & Services
Build the Product Management Team
Product Team Roles & Responsibilities
Hire a Partner Product Manager
Hire a Product Manager for an Existing Product
Hire a Product Manager for a New Product
Hire a VP/Director/Leader for Your Product Management Team
Reward Good Decisions, Not Good Results
Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation
Tough Situation Handling - Mistakes, Bugs & Data Errors
Select & Configure Team Software Stack
Product Management Software Stack
Knowledge Management Software Stack
Select KPIs & Determine Method of Measurement
Cohort Analysis For Product Teams
Additional Business Metrics for Product Teams
Create Initial Product Team Artifacts
Technical Debt Assessment
Go To Market & Target Market Analysis
Product & Feature Priority Queue
Partner Ecosystem Strategy
Product Requirements Document
Part 2 - Deliver Value to Customers with Your Product Management Machine
Update & Maintain Product Team Artifacts
Update & Maintain a Product Roadmap
Share Your Product Roadmap: How, When, and With Whom
Manage & Prioritize Technical Debt
Manage Stakeholder Technical Debt Perception
Product Management Meetings
Individual Contributor & Manager
Product Management Team Meetings
Cross Functional Team Meetings
Product & Feature Releases
Determine Optimal Release Frequency
Release a New Product
Release a New Feature
Part 3 - Improve, Optimize & Refine Your Product Management Team
Evaluation & Performance Reviews
Evaluate Individual Contributor Product Managers with Scorecards
Evaluate Product Manager Leaders
Developing Product Team Member Skills
Organization & Board Management
Estimate Product Management Costs & Return On Investment
Create a Organization-Wide Product Update
Create a Company Board/Investor Product Update
Continuous Team Improvement & Hazards on the PM Highway