We can’t believe we’re already more than halfway through 2020 (good riddance). As we’ve done for the past two years, we’ve been posting weekly poll questions on various product-management related topics to our homepage and our social media channels. As August approaches, we figured we’d share some of the results of these informal polls from 2020 so far (you can check out past editions here and here). There are definitely some surprises in here — happy reading!
Product managers are beholden to a lot of different stakeholders. Some of these are internal: executives, other departments, and so on. Others are external, such as customers, partners, and vendors. And all of these relationships have the potential to drive positive product outcomes — or make things much harder for the team.
Which relationship is the hardest to keep aligned?
For this poll, we selected the following four relationships as potential responses: PM and CS, and PM and engineering, PM and sales, and PM and marketing. We weren’t terribly surprised when the majority of our poll-takers selected PM and sales as their answers. The easiest relationship to keep aligned? PM and marketing.
Should you make multiple versions of your roadmap for different stakeholders?
Sometimes, it seems like nobody is happy with your roadmap. One potential reason for this is that different stakeholders want different things out of your roadmap. So, should you create multiple versions? According to most of you, yes, you should.
How well-aligned are your PM and CS teams?
The relationship between the product and customer success teams is one of the most critical in the organization. And thankfully, most of our poll-takers said that this relationship was in pretty good shape, with 47.6% calling it “somewhat aligned” and 38.1% describing it as “very aligned.”
A day in the life
How is the average PM spending his or her day-to-day? Which responsibilities are taking up the most of their time? Also, how are PMs adjusting to remote work? We decided to ask and find out.
How frequently do you perform competitive research?
The response choices for this one were yearly, quarterly, and monthly. Sixty percent of poll-takers selected “quarterly,” with the remaining 40% equally split between yearly and monthly. While yearly might be a bit too infrequent for rapidly-changing markets, we think quarterly is a good option.
Do you set aside time in your schedule for creativity and ideation?
We know, we know. With the state of the world being what it is, it’s hard to find time to finish even the highest-priority to-do list items. But we do think it’s important to occasionally turn off Slack notifications, close your computer, and give yourself permission to daydream and/or brainstorm (about your product, of course). You never know what great ideas might come up. More than half of our poll respondents said that yes, they do set aside time for creativity. In the future, we hope to see that percentage grow.
What should the top priority be for remote PMs?
The available responses for this question were “over-documentation,” “weekly check-ins,” and “frequent communication.” The winner was frequent communication (which makes perfect sense), with 66.7% of respondents selecting that answer. In second place was over-documentation with 20.8% of the vote.
Where do you spend most of your time?
The response options for this poll were “talking to customers,” “shipping features,” “in meetings,” and “gathering data.” We’ll give you one guess as to which was the winner. Yes, it was “in meetings” (surprising no one), with 56.7% of the vote.
Metrics and making product decisions
Today’s product managers have an incredible amount of hard product data at their fingertips, and qualitative measures of effectiveness as also growing in popularity. So, which metrics are product teams using to guide their decisions and determine success or failure?
Is there such a thing as being “too data-driven?”
A whopping 77% percent of respondents selected “yes” as their answer. And that inspires confidence. Data is highly useful and readily available to the modern PM, but data without context or qualitative insights is only part of the product puzzle.
Should every product team measure success against a single North Star metric?
The results of this one were a bit of a surprise to us. While it was pretty close, “no” won the day with 55% of the vote. And we can see the reasoning behind each answer. A North Star metric can keep teams aligned around a single goal, but sometimes, just one metric isn’t enough.
Which should be product’s North Star?
Poll-takers could choose between feature adoption, product usage, and churn, and nearly 70% selected product usage. In second place was churn, which surprised us in a good way. Product should indeed be concerned about retention — it’s not just the purview of CS or sales.
When planning a new feature, how high of a priority is inclusive design?
Inclusive design is a hot topic right now, which we’re happy about. And 80% of respondents agreed, saying that inclusivity was a high priority when planning a new feature.
Does your team have a set of “product principles” you use to make product decisions?
At the ProductCraft Virtual Conference, Jeetu Patel of Box shared a fantastic presentation about the seven product principles his team has built over the years. So we asked our audience of PMs if they’d done the same thing. Only 9.5% said that yes, they had a framework of product principles in place. Another 42.9% said they were working on them. And 47.6% selected “no” as their answer.
The best PMs are always trying to learn new things and build up their skill sets. And many are using the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to engage in online learning and networking.
What’s the best place for PMs to network?
Poll-takers could choose online, industry events, or local events/meetups as their answer. A large majority (over 80%) selected local events, which was a bit of a surprise. However, we did publish this poll in January, before the COVID-19 crisis hit. Likely, the breakdown would be quite different today.
Are you planning to attend any product conferences in 2020?
We also asked this question back in January, and 87.5% of respondents answered “yes.” While this number might not be so high if we shared this poll now, we bet a large percentage would still select “yes.” After all, most of the major product conferences and industry events have moved online, and are still offering fantastic content.
Have you taken any e-learning courses (Coursera, Udemy, etc.) related to product management?
There are plenty of options out there for PMs who want to grow their skills through online learning. Half of our poll-takers said they had already taken e-learning courses on product management, with another 20% saying they were planning to in the near future. With back-to-school time coming up, we bet we’ll see more and more PMs enrolling in classes like these.