Product Management: Any Given Day

June 22, 2018

Product Management is sometimes viewed as a nebulous role. Even among PMs there's both great mystery and interest in each other's process, routine, and general way of doing things.

To shine some light on what a PM actually does from day-to-day, I thought it would be fun to document my events from a single day providing Product Management support for the User and Account Management team on the Emma side of Campaign Monitor.

It turned out to be a good day to document. I had a wide range of activities happening from product release to sessions with Product Marketing as well as interactions with members from other teams across the business.

6:00am Getting the day started

I'm up at 6:00 each day spending two hours cooking a leisurely breakfast, checking-in on the vegetable garden, and tending to other houshold items like making sure the pets are fed.

I try to avoid Slack and email until I'm in the office. I'll glance at the notifications on my phone or look at my calendar to get a sense of what's ahead for the day, but I try to maintain a boundary from starting my work day until I'm in the office.

7:50am - 8:40am Commute

My commute is about 50 minutes in the morning. Podcasts are a must. Seeking Wisdom, Inside Intercom, and Freakonomics are a few staples, among others.

8:45am - 9:00am Coffee & Slack

I grab coffee and have about 15 minutes to catch a glance of what lies ahead for the day before heading into my first meeting at 9:00. Today I'm starting with Slack, continuing a conversation with our head technical writer based in the Australia office. She and I are discussing how we can better manage communication over feature deployments and associated support documentation.

9:00am - 9:30am Meet with an Account Executive

Our AE outlined a few specific use-cases that a prospect is hoping our platform can handle via our API. I'm providing context around the capabilities of our API both making sure the use-cases his prospect is putting forth are possible with our platform, but also helping to empower him with more technical knowledge should the prospect come back with further questions.

9:30am - 11:00am Unscheduled time

Today I'm using this 90 minutes of unscheduled time to respond to email, add a couple tickets to the backlog, and make some last minute additions to supporting documentation for a set of features that we're enabling for all customers at 11:00am.

The pertinent email is a response to one of our 3rd party developers that may be helping us provide some updates to our WordPress plug-in.

The backlog tickets are a continuation of work completed in the previous sprint and in progress in the current sprint. They are the final piece of an effort to move a specific set of admin controls from a legacy section of our app to a new, modern experience. They include sunsetting the old, and communicating that change to customers.

Documentation for our feature release at 11:00am required a few late additions to represent a feature that was finished ahead of schedule. Bonus!

11:00am Product release!

Today's product release was a soft enablement of our new two-factor authentication options. Typically we'll iterate on a feature over several sprints, deploying to production behind a feature flag. For today's enablement, all that was left to do was flip the switch, enabling the feature for all users. Leading up to this point we ran a small beta group of customers in order to test and gather feedback. In this case, the feature will be available for customers, but we won't push an in-app (Intercom) announcement for a few more days.

Two-factor authentication

11:30am Team stand-up

Pretty typical routine, here. Our team consists of two developers, a Technical Lead, Engineering Manager, and Product Manager. We each talk through what we accomplished yesterday and what we plan to tackle today.

1:30pm - 2:45pm Product Marketing Monthly Sync

This is a time for the two teams to talk through what product has released in the past 30 days and what's expected in the coming 30 days. This helps drive Product Marketing's campaigns going forward and we talk through what they have planned on their roadmap.

3:00pm Discovery Check-in

We're working toward a dual track development process. For us, that means in addition to the normal development process of fixing bugs and delivering new features, we're also spending time in "Discovery" doing research around a larger problem we'd like to tackle in the coming weeks. Currently, we're working through 6-week chunks. Presumably, what we research in the current six weeks will be validated and ready to develop over the next 6 weeks. Discovery includes defining a problem and then crafting potential solutions with the help of Product Design and the team's Engineering Lead. That's then validated with customers and we decide whether or not to move forward.

A 6 week cycle roadmap with discovery

4pm Pride Celebration

The day ended a little early with the arrival of snow cones and a local non-profit coming into the office to give a talk about the work they're doing with LGBTQIA youth in Nashville and surrounding counties.

Post Day

While my day winds down, half our team is two time zones away on the west coast. I do my best to keep an eye on Slack should anything arise that requires collaboration. Today we had a late bug arise around users and API keys. This required a few minutes of defining the expected outcome of the fix.

That's largely it. Key items missing from today that do show up regularly on other days include customer and prospect conversations and larger team meetings to help groom and plan future work.

How does your typical day compare?