Product Management

Learn the best ways to set strategy, share visual roadmaps, manage releases, and write user stories — along with everything else agile product managers do.

What Does a Program Manager Do, Anyway?

program manager

Program manager vs. project manager. I recently wrote a blog post describing these roles. Several folks took the time to thank me for digging into the differences between the two. But many of you wanted more. Specifically, for me to go even deeper into what a program manager does and how the role functions in different scenarios.

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6 Things I Learned From My First Product Management Job

product manager learnings

The last five years have gone fast. In a few months, I will celebrate that milestone at Aha! — in that time we have grown exponentially. We expanded our team to nearly 100 people, grown to serve over 5,000 customers, and delivered more than 250 major features or improvements. While I am looking forward to what is next, I am also reflecting on what was. Specifically, my very first role as a product manager more than a decade ago. I was working at a SaaS company that served human resources teams.

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Product vs. Program vs. Project Management

project program product

What does “discipline” mean to you? I bet a few words come to mind — self-control, punishment, or a system of rules. You might also conjure a field of study or branch of knowledge. This is how I most often think of it. Especially in the context of how our team at Aha! serves customers working in the disciplines of product, program, and project management.

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Agile vs. Roadmaps

Agile vs Roadmaps

Have you ever tried to follow a complicated recipe? Exotic ingredients, specialty cookware, and professional techniques — it takes more than instructions to cook a delicious meal. Depending on culinary experience and access to tools, a dozen people following the same recipe could end up with dramatically different results. The same is true for building products. I think this is why a lot of teams focus on how they will get work done. For many, this means “going agile.”

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6 Commonly Confused Product and Project Management Titles

product and project management

Mad Libs was invented in 1953. I bet you played this fill-in-the-blank game as a kid — maybe on a long car trip. And even though the concept is more than 60 years old, hearing someone read off a wacky story with random words stuffed into sentences still elicits a laugh. But there is an important truth here. Just because a word fits a category (such as an adjective or noun) does not mean that it will hold meaning if used incorrectly or out of context.

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Product Strategy vs. Go-to-Market Strategy

Product vs Go-to-market strategy

Have you heard of cognitive dissonance theory? In psychology, it refers to the tension that results when you attempt to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time. We all balance ideas that are often quite different. This is especially true for product managers and product marketing managers. Building and launching brilliant products requires that you can understand and harmonize an internal focus (the build) with an external focus (the launch).

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Vision vs. Strategy vs. Roadmap

vision strategy roadmap

Roadmaps are beautiful. Not just because they are aesthetically pleasing, but because of what they represent. Roadmaps clearly show what you want to achieve and how you will get there. You can create excitement for a big idea and package it in a way that others can understand. But a roadmap is still just a visualization. You need to have a vision and strategy behind the plan.

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8 Smart Tactics for Understanding Customer Pain Points

8 smart tactics pain points

Have you heard of the Wong-Baker FACES® scale? You may not know the name but I bet you would recognize it immediately. This numerical and visual pain rating scale shows several cartoon faces in increasing amounts of pain — from smiling (zero) to crying (10). No matter how young a patient is or what language they speak, they can use the scale to communicate their current level of suffering. 

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5 Questions Every Frustrated Product Manager Should Ask When Dates Slip

frustrated product manager questions

Busy is not always better. I have written before about the difference between busy work and meaningful work. Our time is finite, so it is important to be purposeful about where we put our effort. This is especially true if you are a product manager striving to provide real value to customers. But what if, despite your best efforts and plenty of busy days, you are not delivering new features on time?

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The Product Manager vs. the CEO vs. the CTO

product manager vs ceo vs cto

Do you like tennis? If you like watching it live, you know that it is best to sit behind one of the players. Because if you are at mid-court, you may get dizzy snapping your head back and forth to follow the ball. And if you are a product manager caught watching angry volleys between a CEO and CTO, you also know the whiplash feeling. 

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Hey Product Managers: It Is Time to Set the Strategy That You Think Is Right

product manager strategy

“Vision.” What does this word mean to you? I define it as knowing what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. In business, it can be difficult to determine what your vision is and then commit to it. Of course, this is a lot easier if you are the CEO of a company. Everyone looks to you to set the strategy and wants to know how they can help make the company a success.

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6 Ways to Ensure Success When Your Product Is Built on a Platform

Platform-built product success

Product management is rewarding. And it is also really hard work. I know a few product managers who have the toughest challenge out there — leading a product that is built on a platform or collection of products managed by other people. You need to advocate for your product every day. In the process, those other people’s problems become yours as well. It can be difficult to see how an individual product is making a real impact on the business. So what should a product manager do? 

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