First 30–60–90 Days in a New Product Manager Job

It has been a rather long break since my previous post. A few things have happened in the last few months. I moved from Bombay to Bangalore in Feb 2020 to join ThoughtSpot. Amidst moving houses, setting into a new job and dealing with the Covid normal, unfortunately the blog got ignored.

That said, let’s come back to this blog post.

This post is about what one should do in the first 30–60–90 days of joining a new product management job. It’s mostly based on my learnings of settling into my role in ThoughtSpot. Prior to joining the company, I had made a checklist of things I should do to help me settle into the new role. The checklist I had created spanned a few areas such as:

  • Team

I’ll cover each of these areas in more detail below.

Team

This aspect covers the immediate team members you will be working with as well as folks you might not interact with on a regular basis. Here’s what has worked for me:

  • Get to know the different members of the teams you’ll be working with on a daily basis and what they do. This would primarily include the product, design and engineering teams. You could, as an example, have meals with the folks you’ll be working with. This is a great way to build that initial rapport.

These interactions will also help you understand the team dynamics and cultural norms of the company. This includes things such as how decisions are made, how conflicts and disagreements are handled, the challenges that the company faces etc.

Manager

Building a healthy professional relationship with the manager is perhaps the most critical thing that one should focus on in a new job. This entails many different things:

  • Get to know the manager on a personal level — their background, why they joined the company etc.

Customers

Before you even get into the details of the product, it is important to understand who the customers are and why they use the product. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to meet with your customers. You could ask your colleagues or your manager the following:

  • The segments and detailed user personas that the company sells the product to — where they are based, the size of the company, the industry they are in, the business functions and the title and roles of the people who use the product etc.

I tend to start interacting with customers directly only when I have the requisite knowledge of who the customers are, what the product does etc. This means that my interactions with customers would start probably the second month onwards.

Product

As a product manager, you need to have an in-depth understanding of the product. I suggest doing the following:

  • Go through the product documentation, roadmap, product demo videos etc. to understand the product in detail.

Market & Competitors

While you have a good understanding of the customers and the product, it is also good to know the market in general.

  • Go through Gartner reports and articles that cover the space that your company is in.

Product Management Process

Different companies have different processes and frameworks they follow for building products. Some are more structured and some ad hoc. Therefore, in addition to understanding the product, it is equally important to understand the process the company follows to build the products. Learn about the following:

  • How are product roadmaps built and prioritized? What product roadmap frameworks does the organization use? How is backlog managed? How do they work on bugs and enhancements along with new features?

At ThoughtSpot, I ended up doing most of the things above in my first 30–60–90 days in the company.

In the first 30 days, it was important for me to know my goals and objectives, as well as to build trust with my peers and manager. I also ended up writing a few PRDs in my first 60 days in the company. Having to write the PRDs necessitated a thorough understanding of the customers, the product, the competitive landscape etc. Working on the PRDs also helped build a good rapport with my counterparts in the design and engineering team. After the first 30 days, I also started meeting with customers. This was critical in understanding and building empathy for them and their business problems. These discussions with customers also gave me insights into other business problems we could solve in the future.

One thing that I was not able to do in the first 90 days at ThoughtSpot was build a roadmap for the product I lead. In hindsight, I think one should aim to build a product roadmap by the end of those 90 days. A well-thought through roadmap would lay a solid foundation and enable you to succeed in your role.

That’s all, folks. I hope this helps you effortlessly transition into your new PM job!

Principal Product Manager @ ThoughtSpot

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