product manager jobs

You’ve got five days to make an impression in your new job. We break down, day by day, the actions you can take to get your first week as Product Manager off to a flying start.

Monday: Talk to the right people
Problem-solving is the top goal for a PM – but first, you have to find out what those problems are. They might not present themselves in the most obvious way, and there are a number of perspectives to consider.

Who are the right people? You’ll need to work your way through your team, then Sales and Marketing, Customer Service and suppliers, journalists and bloggers, plus everyone else in-between. Oh, and not forgetting the product users.

While hard numbers have their place, users have the insight that can give your product the edge over a competitor’s, so get out from behind the two-way mirror to get their thoughts.

Tuesday: Ask those people loads of questions
Take notes, too. Whether you’re talking to the call centre or the customer, ask them about what problems they’re facing, and would like solved. Ask what it is about your product they found so compelling over what the competition is providing – was it an emotional connection, or based on reasoning?

Don’t be afraid to get them to tear the product apart, either. They could work with you to make it better, or dissuade others from using it; we’re sure you’d prefer the former!

Wednesday: Learn about your product and the competitor
As obvious as it sounds, now’s the time to build on the basic knowledge you have of the product. Put yourself in the customer’s position and get familiar with their user journeys. You’ll have a stack of thoughts and opinions, but you’re the PM – as the main advocate, your knowledge is key to its success.

Compare and contrast your product and user journeys with your competitors, and be completely honest and unfiltered. From here, you can start digging deeper into wider industry knowledge and analysis, and gather up old and new product information so you can map out its evolution.

Thursday: Start analysing what you’ve gathered
Take a seat and grab a cuppa – here’s where you start turning all this new information into a picture of your product, and something you can use to take it to the next level. A clear idea of what’s working and not working will start to emerge, and this can be mapped against your job’s KPIs. Look at the wider contexts: seasonal fluctuations, new competitors and campaigns, rises or falls in price.

There’s a great deal of information here, so use your KPIs to make sure you’re on track – and review them with your line manager as you’re going along.

Friday: Use the Friday feeling to share the love
Once you can articulate what you’ve learned, don’t be afraid to share it. At this point you have the clearest view yet of what the product is (or isn’t), what it could be and what it shouldn’t be, who the customer is, and the kind of support you’ll need to drive it forward. You’ll have a raft of observations and hard data to get the point across, so make sure that you communicate this loud and clear to everyone that needs to know it.

Establish an open and honest environment for communication, with freshly-updated collateral that’s easily accessible.

Have fun with your new role – you’re in the learning phase right now, but you’re also in the best position to teach.