The Year of Product!

whole-head---LS---New-Year-2014

Happy New Year!  This last year has seen many great things in product, from product ecosystems to analytics to the continued formal expansion into companies large and small, digital and physical.

In addition to the many positive changes we have been witnessing in the broader industries, I am also very proud of several new product community initiatives as well as the product people I have gotten to work with…

The Product Group, the world’s largest meetup for product people, passed some pretty awesome milestones this year…

4600+ Members
40+ Featured Products
4+ Years

Looking forward to seeing you all at our next meetup…

Thursday, January 2nd
Featured Product: INCLUSION
Special Topic: News Skills. New Year.
RSVP Now!

We are always looking to grow The Product Group base.  If you are interested in launching a local chapter of The Product Group in your hometown, you can contact me at jhorn (a-t.) tpgblog DoT com.

tpj-logo-w_lkwThis year we launched the free job board, exclusively dedicated to connecting Product People and the Jobs they love, with 800 new job postings and growing!

Visit  http://TheProductJobs.com and happy hunting!

TPM-Short3-Logo4It’s been a long journey since TPM was launched as an MVP earlier in 2013.  The interest and participation has been greater and wider that I ever could have imagined…

With participants from…

United States, England,
Australia, Spain, Singapore,
Jordon, Canada, Brazil

We are midway through our very first iteration with many amazing mentees, and of course, mentors…

Becky Yelland, Beth Temple, Calvin Chu,
Raviv Turner, David Shoenberger,
Adrienne Tan, Steven Cohn, Ari Tiktin

If you are interested in being a Product Mentor in our upcoming Session…

Please visit http://TheProductMentor.com TODAY and
Sign-up today!

PictureThe annual search for The Best Product Person continued and exceeded last year’s participation (well over 100 nominees)!  As a matter of fact, due to the enormous turnout, and great candidates, it took considerably longer to get through all the judging than prior years – but we do have a winner!  Stay tuned over the next few weeks for the official announcement of The Best Product Person of 2013.

And, hey, it’s never too early to start submitting your nominations for 2014! (Important: The person who nominates the winner also wins a very cool prize. Winking smile )

You can submit your nomination for TBPP 2014 at:

https://tbpp.wufoo.com/forms/the-best-product-person-of-2014/

GA_logo_199This year I continued teaching the long-form (10 week) product management course I designed at General Assembly and have been psyched to learn it has been their most successful (in the US and Worldwide) to date!

In completing the 6th consecutive teaching of the course since launch, I have very happily taught over 130 product managers looking to take their careers to the next level.  I would never be able to list them all, nor the large subset of the group that have gone on to some very great new product gigs, but I did put together a cool movie looking back at my students of GA PDM, 

Enjoy…

(Yes, I know the music didn’t perfectly line up with the duration of the video. Blame Google’s auto-awesome movie generator. Smile with tongue out)

Looking Forward

I have a few new product initiatives in the works for 2014 (a new podcast, product associates program, and more)!  Hope you all continue to enjoy them as much as I enjoy putting them together.  If you would like to help out, contact me via jhorn (a-t.) tpgblog DoT com and mention this blog post.

And, again, Happy Near Year!  Make it another great one for products and their product people!

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Deal with Agile

Guest Author: Jay Fox

Big week! The company I work for, The Deal (www.thedeal.com), launched a product  that I have been working on for nearly a year that creates LinkedIn-like functionality for people in the deal-making space using our proprietary data.

Not only is this the biggest new product launch for the company in 5 years, but it represents our first effort in transitioning from waterfall to agile development process. I am extremely impressed with our development team in making this transition – and while we have a long ways to go – we are operating much more efficiently than before.

How the transition has worked to our benefit…

Pre-agile: Long, detailed (read: boring), spec docs taking months to write were handed over to dev, who would take months to write code, and then business side would only see the product when it was in test, right before the given launch date. This caused a lot of frustration for the business side when the envisioned product was not achieved, and even more frustration for the dev side when deadlines were missed.

Post-agile: No spec docs, just weekly product development meetings in which daily scrums between business and dev side were summed up and discussed. I used wireframes to communicate design intent, and people in the meeting could give real-time feedback.

Pre-agile: Virtual Chinese wall existed between dev and business side with communication only happening in formal setting once a week at company-wide meetings. Biz side usually think one thing while dev side thinks another. Usually we wouldn’t find out what the other side was thinking until it was too late and deadlines has passed…

Post-agile: Frequent communication with dev team both in weekly formal setting and in daily chats by the water cooler. Much more open atmosphere of tossing ideas back and forth about design, UI, UX, and dev challenges. Collaboration is the name of the game. I believe this is the sole reason the product that launches tomorrow is meeting its deadline.

Pre-agile: Clients only got involved once the product or feature "went live." Feedback then went into an endless ticket cycle that was never implemented.

Post-agile: Dev set up a client testing site that allowed us to "beta" the new product early on in the development cycle. I even showed clients mock-ups before the testing site was available. This helped define what features we needed to be "launch ready". Plus, even after we launch tomorrow, we will still iterate frequently based on feedback. No long ticket process.

Here’s a screenshot of the main tool:

Image

A few things we are still working out…

  • How can we be truly agile when a large part of our development is outsourced to a team in India? Going back and forth on tweaks following client input was difficult and often ended up in a game of telephone where what was communicated wasn’t what we ended up getting. This process ultimately didn’t affect the launch date but still wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. Would appreciate folks sharing thoughts or similar experiences in the comments. 
  • I had a hard time getting client input throughout – pinning them down was tough and so iterating through input was not easy. Ultimately, we will launch the product, then get client input and decide if we’ve got an MVP or if we need to go back to the drawing board. I suppose this is a bastardized version of agile :)
  • We were operating without a UX design team – it was really me, the project manager, and the developer, none of which have hard UX experience. Any thoughts? Again, please share in the comments.

Thanks & would love to hear what you think!

Guest Author Bio

Jay Fox has been involved in financial and legal industry product development for nearly 5 years and has recently assumed the role of product director at The Deal (www.thedeal.com). The Deal is a media company owned by The Street (of Jim Cramer fame) that reports on M&A, Private Equity, regulatory issues, and restructuring. Follow Jay on twitter @FoxNY1 or on LinkedIn at http://lnkd.in/c2we8c.

On the Track to Success

Guest Author: Raj Moorjani

Hi, my name is Raj Moorjani, and I am the Director of Marketing at Tracks, and basically the Product Person, for a cool mobile application called Tracks (http://bit.ly/tracksapp). Recently, I took a course in Product Management at General Assembly, created and taught by Jeremy Horn, to more effectively communicate my product ideas to the rest of the company.  Below is my story.

First, some background

Tracks is a way for people to make group photo albums (tracks) in a collaborative way. The app launched at TC Disrupt in May of 2011.  It began as a way for users to share photos around any event or experience in a private way. The app has evolved over the last couple of years, as we have better understood how people use it.

Back in January of 2013, I sat down and analyzed various metrics and KPIs such as Cohort, engagement time, retention, K-factor, and Cycle Plots. By doing a data first approach to product development I came up with a list of improvements we can add to the app.

The list of ideas I jotted down:

From this point, I had a brief discussion with the CEO, and then it was announced that we would be launching a 2.5 version of Tracks in the springtime!

On Track

Fortunately, I had signed up for the Product Management class at GA taught by Jeremy Horn. I learned the tools to be able to more effectively communicate my ideas to the rest of the Tracks team.

The top product ideas I wanted to focus on were:

  • Public Tracks (making it an option for users to make public as well as private Tracks).
  • Redesign of the Track list
  • Track it (ability for users to track any photo they discover to their own account).
  • Refining Twitter Invites (invites sent via Twitter).

I started drawing up the wireframes…


I imagined a redesigned home screen. Focused on the photos and the varying sizes of the pics changing depending upon popularity of them.
The “Track it” button (later renamed to ReTrack) would allow users to take any public photo in the app and place it in their own Track or album.

Here the Track it button would be placed below the photo.

After hitting the button, the user is taken to a screen to select where to put the photo.
Wireframe of a ReTracked photo from the perspective of a user.
Improved invites sent via Twitter by taking advantage of the Twitter card functionality. Instead of just showing a link in a tweet, a Twitter card shows a whole photo with descriptive text. The whole area is clickable to any website. 

Tracks 2.5 – What ended up being built

This is the main activity screen that shows all the Tracks.
Implementation of Public Tracks. Discovering any track around specific tags such as Fun, Love, Friends, etc…
Tap the share button under the photo.
After hitting the Share button, you see an option for ReTrack.
After hitting the ReTrack button the user is taken to this screen to select where to ReTrack the entry to.

Track to Success

Launch Day and Apple’s Feature on April 16th, 2013!

Then got some great press …

Now, I am heavily involved in the product direction of the app and we’re working on some really big things for the next version.

Thanks & stay tuned!

Guest Author Bio

Raj Moorjani, Director of Marketing, brings more than ten years of digital media experience in both mobile and web environments. He is proficient in employing state-of-the-art data analytic tools to evaluate and increase user acquisition and engagement. For the Tracks mobile applications (iOS, Android, and Windows), he has used Cohort, ETL, K-factor, retention, funnel, cycle plot, and engagement analyses, resulting in a one hundred percent increase in social connections and installs since the app’s initial product launch. His technical skill set includes expertise in wireframing, storyboarding, and developing roadmaps and preparing FRDs to help implement viral growth strategies. Specific product development contributions to Tracks are Public Tracks, ReTrack, and Twitter Cards implementation. Follow him on Twitter @rajmoor .