What does it take to effectively manage products, liaise with dispersed stakeholders and keep the roadmap on track when everyone is working remotely? Here, Meenakshi Agrawal (Product Manager at Eko) shares her best practices.
Product managers (PMs) play a key role in governing the overall success of a company’s product deliverable, which requires constant communication with stakeholders and juggling multiple product roadmaps in parallel. Is it still possible to achieve this with teams working remotely? We spoke to Meenakshi Agrawal, Product Manager at Eko, to learn about some of the best practices she has to share when it comes to working with a dispersed team.
The main differentiating factor is having to coordinate and collaborate from a distance, which means relying even more intensely on our digital tools. We need to feel in control and be on top of all item statuses so that we can maintain a sense of assurance and confidence in the product we’re building.
The ideal tool for product management connects both the strategic, prioritization and planning elements, and constant communication across the teams. Eko has been a huge help here. There are various features in the platform that help streamline your work and allow for continuous check ins with your teammates no matter where they are.
Written communication to different teams is very important to keep the requirements consistent. It is a more unified way to exchange information about a feature that every team member should be aware of. This is the reason why PMs invest their time in maintaining documentation of every task concerning the product. It helps us identify the answers to all the “whys” revolving around the main product. Writing everything helps us to make crucial decisions and get answers right at the beginning for questions such as “Who is the product for? ” and “why does the app need to be developed?”. Having it documented and visible to everyone eliminates any chance of confusion and mistakes.
We follow four different steps to make sure we stay on track and keep everyone on the same page.
As you can see, these steps revolve largely around inclusive, clear and real-time communications. Using digital tools and internal employee platforms to tick all of the items on this checklist ensures a successful product delivered on time.
Most companies have a roadmap defined for an entire year. Usually, the product development cycles are long and require a good amount of time to plan and to put things in motion. In this pandemic, the situation has changed and people are working from home. From my perspective, launching product features right now which are not specifically aimed to ease the lives of people who use the app is a bad idea. Instead, adjusting the roadmap to find a balance between the needs of the users during this pandemic while also supporting the company’s business continuity is key.
As we all watch the world deal with the Covid-19 crisis, we see many organizations and people act in various ways: some in a very responsible way while others are panicking, some working on assumptions while others base their decisions on data. This is the time in which a good product manager can make a difference. Our job is to keep things calm, put them in perspective and make sure that the right team is solving the crisis to minimize the impact to the rest of our plan.
First, we need to analyze the crisis and make sure we get the right resources. Second, we need to make sure to control the information flow. We must ensure that the team working on the tasks has all the right data on the situation. We need to make sure that the rest of the team gets timely updates and does not interfere with the team working on the tasks. We actually have to protect this team from getting overloaded with other tasks. Lastly, once things are in motion we may need to shift priorities, update the plan and move things around. Navigating the situation will be all about adjusting to the crisis both as it happens, and as we begin to recover and return to a new normal.
In an effort to support teams around the world during this unprecedented time, we decided to offer our solution free of charge.