Seven Principles Every Product Team Should Swear By
With this understanding, what your platform represents, stands for, and serves becomes a game changer. And hence, Product Teams become key players in bringing together business, technology, and design aspects.
The Product team at Shikshalokam too is striving hard to offer solvability to School Leaders to tackle everyday challenges in the school ecosystem. We assist the school leaders to sense, make sense, learn, improve and receive mentoring, through the use of open source technology at scale.
As of today, the technology infrastructure by Shikshalokam provides digital capabilities to School Leaders to ‘sense’ (create frameworks to assess institutes, processes and people), ‘make sense’ (create dashboards to draw insights from data collected), ‘learn’ (draw personalised learning experiences), ‘improve’ – (undertake a set of action projects) and receive ‘mentoring’ from experts in the ecosystem.
Here are seven learnings from our work that I believe every Product team should swear by while creating their platform.
1. Customer / User obsession is key
When bringing people on technology, it becomes absolutely essential to listen to the voice of your users and solve for what they deem as a problem and help them connect better.
At ShikshaLokam, we ask these questions to make sure customer is at the heart of our solution:
- Who is our target audience?
- What do they want to achieve?
- Why do they want to achieve it?
- How do we bring ‘it’ to them in an efficient and timely manner?
- What else can we offer that will add value to their time and work?
How do you get answers to these questions?
The answer is very simple – Asking the right questions and listening to your users.
2. Ideate often
When working at scale, most of your ideas and beliefs about your audience will prove to be wrong. Your assumptions will be constantly challenged and everything will be questioned.
In times like these, it is best to take your team back to the drawing board and ideate what needs to be done and how.
Do not simply put a set of ideas and start building it till the end. Take the time and effort required to ship one simple idea to your target audience at the earliest.
You will never have a perfect solution, but it surely does get better with time.
When managing a Product, one of your most essential responsibilities will be communicating updates and new knowledge to cross-functional teams.
On most occasions, the product team will be the only ones aware of updates from the business, tech, and user end.
Hence, it becomes absolutely essential to communicate two things:
- What new information has come to light?
- How does it impact the respective teams?
How do you work on enhancing written and oral communication?
- Get all the documents you create peer-reviewed. It is always nice to get feedback from a fresh set of eyes. Be sure to ask – What do you understand from this document?
- Politely share updates from your end before taking updates from respective teams.
- Paraphrase all that you have understood to ensure you are on the same page as your team members.
4. Keep it Short and Simple
Learn to say more not necessarily in fewer words, but in simple words.
It’s a home run if you can do both.
Always have an answer to ‘What you are doing’ and ‘Why’ before asking ‘When you aim to complete it’ and ‘How’.
One best practice we follow in Shikshalokam is – How can I put my point across in five sentences or less.
5. Be open to being challenged or change your opinions
Because your role demands you coordinate and communicate with cross-functional teams.
They are experts in their fields and they will constantly offer improvements as they get familiar with the idea.
Here, it becomes important to filter the good ideas from the not so good ones.
How do you do that?
Revisit your Product objectives and take data-driven decisions.
You don’t have to be right. You have to be open to new ideas.
6. Be Enterprising
In Product Management, your role does not climax at getting the sprint started into building what you have imagined and coordinating the smooth transit from development to production.
You are also responsible for determining the success metrics of your product in the market and the initiative you need to take against it.
What does this mean?
- Set a target on what your MAU (Monthly Average Users) should look like.
- Connecting with Ops to strategically plan on how you can make this happen.
- Discuss impact and usability over a number of features.
- Take initiative on all the above points.
7. Make Data Representational
Believe it or not, product management exposes you to a ton of data.
Be it data from User Research, telemetry data, app data, user data, and many more types of which I’m probably not even aware.
To drive the product forward, it becomes critical to represent the data well for everyone involved to make sense of it, its context, and then choose the right direction.
These are called data-driven decisions.
How do you do it?
- Look up infographic templates for various data points
- There are a lot of templates for Persona journey maps, roadmaps, behavior mapping, etc
Use those that you and your audience understand rather than using fancy complex graphs and flows
If nothing works, Excel Zindabaad!
The most under-rated but over-used data representation tool.
These are some of the practices that we stand by as the Shikshalokam Products team to achieve our values of using technology to catalyze interactions, using tech to cater to solvability, and empowering people with data.