Insights on roadmaps, metrics, OKRs, and more for product managers
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Chief Product Officers (CPOs) have many responsibilities, such as mentoring product managers, defining product strategy, leveraging cross-functional resources, developing products to meet an expected schedule, and more. They use tools to help them with these responsibilities.
Joining us for this episode is a CPO who shares some of the tools he uses, including roadmaps, metrics, and OKRs. He knows a lot about tools as he is the CPO for Betterworks, a provider of enterprise OKR and performance management software. His name is Anup Yanamandra.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[1:58] What are your responsibilities as a Chief Product Officer?
My primary responsibility is defining the product strategy for the company. Increasingly, CPOs are also thinking about the user experience strategy. It’s becoming important for CPOs and product managers to dig into data and make decisions based on data rather than pure intuition. In my company, I help with hiring great people across the company and explaining why the company is going to win using its great product vision. Product advocacy, internally and externally, is important for CPOs.
[5:42] How do you use roadmaps?
I use PowerPoint or Google slides for my roadmaps. I structure these roadmaps very clearly. We start with the company’s high level goal. Then we identify two or three themes that we’re trying to build through the product or portfolio; it’s important to communicate these themes internally and externally. Next, we create individual product ideas. We identify two or three big goals and create a slide for each one. Then we create more detailed slides under each goal, answering the questions, What is the business problem? What is the solution? What is the benefit?
The roadmap will be slightly different for a new product than for a product that’s already in the market. When you’re launching a new product, the important questions are, What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Who is the persona that’s going to benefit? What is the core of the problem? When you’re creating a roadmap for a product that’s been in the market for a few years, you need to focus on four different types of problems:
- How do we generate new sales?
- How are we helping with renewables?
- Technology infrastructure as your underlying frameworks change over time.
- Support tickets that existing customers are logging.
Put badges on your slides to show which features address each of these problems. This helps you be clear about why you’re creating each new capability and how it will benefit both your organization and your customer.
[14:44] Do you use roadmaps at different levels?
As a CPO, I like to have one roadmap slide that gives a high-level picture. I use a 12-18 month roadmap and break it down by quarter. This provides a strong foundation to build a great product. You must have a strong platform to have a successful long-term product strategy. As a CPO, I create a 4-5 page roadmap that highlights two or three goals to accomplish for each quarter. Then each director of a product line develops a more detailed roadmap, about 15 pages. All our roadmaps are available to everyone in our company. We’ve found that the 4-page, high-level roadmap is best to share with customers; once we have a commission, we can share the 15-page, detailed roadmap.
[18:00] What metrics do you find useful?
- Adoption: If no one is going to use the product, what is the point of building it? While you’re building a new feature or product, have in mind four or five customers who would use it right away. Make sure that those customers will pick it up in its first phase. A month or two after the product is out, it should be used by at least 10% of the existing customer base. Every product, feature, and button should be instrumented. We need to know which pages and buttons are being used. If people aren’t using a certain feature, we can find out why.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): There are two parts to this: First, we survey the satisfaction of product sponsors who purchase our product, typically just one or two people. Second—and more exciting—we ask end users to rate their experience on each of our pages. We get hundreds of responses every day with specific information, and we connect the responses to a Slack channel that the entire company sees. User feedback can be pretty tough on product managers, but good product managers don’t shy away from it; they want feedback and work to fix problems.
- Revenue: At the end of the day, people have to purchase your product. You need to become a market leader and drive revenue. Product managers don’t control selling the product or pricing, but it’s important for them to understand those metrics. CPOs and PMs need to understand how many engineers you need to support a product based on the amount of business it’s generating.
[28:02] How do you use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)?
OKRs make a useful framework, but you need to know how to use them or they’re just a bunch of text on paper. First, we look at the business strategy. The leadership team meets with the CEO to discuss where we want to take the company on a quarterly basis and agree on company OKRs. The CEO and I discuss high level goals for my department to support the business. Next I share the business strategy with my department’s leaders and discuss OKRs that we can put in place. We then take a bottom-up alignment approach and discuss our goals with the entire department.
Once our OKRs are in place, we connect our key results to our Jira tickets. We have complete transparency within the company about how the product team is doing. It’s very motivating for product managers to see the entire company supporting them.
We also use social features called Cheers and Nudges. People cheer for projects and initiatives that are going well. As a leader, I can nudge people who are behind on their initiatives. At the end of the quarter, we reflect on the OKRs that failed and those that were successful and determine what to do next time.
Action Guide: Put the information Anup shared into action now. Click here to download the Action Guide.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.” – Steve Jobs
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.