Product Management Team Handbook

1% DRAFT

Overview

The purpose of this handbook is to provide more details on the Product Manager role, processes, and relations to other functions within the organization to foster success for employees in this role. This handbook may be shared with other functional areas so other employees may gain a better understanding of the Product Manager role, thereby having a greater understanding for responsibilities and interaction areas.

Change Log

Date

Edited By

Change Notes

3/31/2020

Lindsay Brock

Add level descriptions

2/5/2020

Adam Clarkson

Added notes on Customer Request Rotation

2/2/2020

Katie Wiersgalla

Updated Twitter, Customer Requests, PM meetings

8/30/2019

Katie Wiersgalla

Update sections with additional resources

6/12/2019

Lindsay Brock

Updated outdated sections

6/25/2018

Katie Wiersgalla

Initial Creation

The Product Manager Role

Function within the Organization

Product Managers are organized within the R&D area of Mattermost; however, they have interactions with all departments and areas to ensure success of the product.

Strategic Priorities

Product Managers are responsible for carrying out the strategic priorities of the product. They are tasked with ensuring the product is profitable by meeting customers and users existing and future needs. Understanding that each client and user have their own set of specific requirements, use cases, and preferences; a Product Manager must understand the patterns across a broad range of input and focus on exploiting value in the areas that will provide the greatest return for the largest audience.

Guiding Principles for the PM role (WIP)

Recruiting - WIP

“The ideal candidate” (WIP)

  • Skills

  • Experience

  • Mindset

Levels

Product Manager I

Owns an area of the product end to end. Influences and executes defined projects across strategy, engineering and marketing functions.

Given product goals, recommends product suggestions and priorities. Shows good judgment when prioritizing work, and effectively articulates the rationale behind it. Works with design, developers, and testers (including both staff and contributors) to align on priorities and execute on roadmap plans. Adept at making suggestions to help their team work in a high impact way. Asks questions and provides feedback that helps raise the quality bar of the team’s work as a whole.

Effectively communicates with Sales, Marketing, and Support teams to ensure the successful launch of feature and projects with some guidance and support from more senior product managers. Highly responsive to questions about product and roadmap questions, they act as a liaison by representing their team to other departments. Works with support team to address issues and document solutions and best practices. Demos new product features effectively on customer calls. Can effectively articulate key product differentiators based on their knowledge of the market and competitors. Communicates with customers to validate designs and product ideas. When gathering feature suggestions and feedback, makes sure to identify the underlying need driving requests.

Learns new skills and establishes goals and context quickly by asking precise questions. Proactively provides project status updates. Gets things done, doesn’t drop the ball.

Product Manager II

Owns a large area of the product end to end.

Participates in defining product goals, quantitative and qualitative, for area of ownership, and recommends product and roadmap plans to achieve that goal. Works with design, developers, and testers (including both staff and contributors) to align on priorities and execute on roadmap plans. Highly skilled at identifying potential blind spots, and taking action to mitigate risk.

Highly valued by the Sales, Marketing, and Support teams for their quality work and feedback. They ensure business value for product and roadmap are communicated effectively externally. Provides demos, demo training, and sales support working with field teams to win and expand customer accounts. Demonstrates strong insights about our customers, based on a deep knowledge acquired through strong customer research skills. Gathers data effectively from sales and support teams to make good decisions.

Drops fluidly into different projects, ramps quickly, and contributes to successful outcomes. Makes good teams great.

Senior Product Manager

Uses deep knowledge of customer, product, competitors, and market to define, own and lead a product or significant product areas across strategy, engineering and marketing functions.

Recommends product goals for their area of ownership, and influences high level goals for the product in general. Develops, socializes, and articulates compelling product roadmap and aligns processes and people to deliver it at high quality. Beneficially influences pricing, packaging, positioning, and messaging decisions from the perspective of a product owner.

Sought after throughout the organization as a spokesperson for product value and roadmap.

A highly respected authority by colleagues across the company and the community, they are someone who others look to for advice and mentorship. Has the ability to train and significantly develop product management related skills in colleagues and new hires.

Lead Product Manager

Manages other Product Managers. Accountable for leading teams and defining responsibilities and deliverables of individual contributors and ensuring their success. Given ambiguous or high level direction, lays out vision and plan to deliver successful outcomes.

Participates in team planning, recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes and effectively influences candidates to join the company. Develops a pipeline of recruiting candidates by building relationships with the community.

Responsible for setting vision and direction for their area of ownership, and for acting as a spokesperson for product value and roadmap internally and externally.

Principal Product Manager

Sought out as an authority in the industry, influencing industry direction and standards through the development and dissemination of thought leadership work, and through the building of world-class products. Sets and delivers long term vision for entire products and product lines. Works fluidly across departments to set organizational objectives and direction. Engages with peers in external organizations to shape joint plans for key initiatives. Rapidly understands disparate viewpoints across different functions and departments, and aligns thinking and efforts to influence the direction of large scale cross-departmental efforts.

Recruiting process

Onboarding

First Day

Objective: Explore the Product with Fresh Eyes

Before diving too deeply into docs, processes, and everything else - take this chance to look at the product with fresh eyes! Keep a list of questions, observations, and points of confusion to help with your own learning and to provide feedback on your first impressions of Mattermost for the rest of the team.

A good place to start is exploring the websites, and then see if you can find a way to install a version of Mattermost to try it out.

Activities:

  • Meet with Manager

  • Meet with “PM buddy”

    • Learn about team

    • Add to team meetings

    • Set up 1-1 times and create 1-1 doc

  • Look at the product with “fresh eyes”

    • Install Mattermost on your laptop, go through the motions of setting it up

      • Optionally also install the Mattermost App on your mobile device

    • As you read the documentation, look out for any improvements that can be made (outdated information, spelling/grammar, etc)

First Week

Objective: Introduction to customers team members, resources, and make first contribution

Training focus:

  • Introduction to our Customer Obsession Principle

  • Introductions to team members through 1-1s

    • Use introductions as learning opportunities to understand different parts of the company (ask questions!)

  • Introduction to product

  • Introduction to our “Fast, Obvious, Forgiving” design principles

  • Introduction to key resources

  • Make your first contribution on GitHub

Activities:

Customer Obsession:

Team:

  • Meet the rest of team leads (Developers, Designer, QA) and join team meetings

    • Ask questions to understand development, design, QA processes

  • Meet with Amy (Release Manager) and read the release process doc

  • Meet with Ian (https://github.com/it33/readme/blob/master/README.md). This will be scheduled for you

  • Meet other Product Managers (Jason Blais, Eric Sethna, Katie Wiersgalla, Aaron Rothschild, Dennis Kittrell, Eric Sadur, Adam Clarkson, Ian Tao)

    • Learn about their areas of ownership

  • Participate in PM, R&D, and Customer Obsession Meetings

  • Jira

  • Make your first edit and pull request on GitHub

    • Update documentation or product help text

  • Small contributions

    • File a bug in Jira

    • Test a new feature on a test server, and suggest an improvement

    • Leave feedback on a design proposal

Readings:

First 30 Days

Objective: Build foundational knowledge

Training focus:

  • Users and customers

  • Product

    • Features/Functions

    • Technical

  • Market and Competitive Landscape

  • Team

    • People and Processes

Activities:

  • Learn about our customers and users

    • Support

      • Customers: Zendesk (Sven)

        • Meet with Sven for Zendesk training and support overview

        • Join support standups for a week or two, and help out on support tickets

      • Community: GitHub, Forums (Amy)

    • Customer success (Meet with a CSM - Jennifer Lawler, Jeff Johnson, Sasa Cosic, Rosie Lane)

      • Overview of Customer Success team, who owns what

      • Current Customer Success processes

      • Typical challenges during customer onboarding

      • Join one CSM team meeting to meet the rest of the CS team

    • Customer calls

      • Join calls with CSMs

      • Join calls with Sales team

    • Learn about the market

    • Sales (Regional VPs and Customer Engineers)

      • Sales team overview

      • Sales team priorities

      • What competitors are we up against

      • How does Sales team position the product

      • What are typical challenges for the Sales team

      • Which sales do we win, which do we lose

      • What are the most common questions on configurations and trials

    • Marketing (Marketing team lead)

      • Marketing team overview

      • What are the Marketing team’s priorities

      • What is our current messaging and positioning around Mattermost

      • What is needed from Product Managers

    • Mini competitive research projects

      • Review of MS Teams, Slack, Discord, and other chat products

  • Spend a week doing customer support

    • Review documentation first and work with Support Lead or PM mentor to answer any questions documentation does not address

    • Update docs with answers as appropriate

  • Spend a couple weeks joining as many customer and prospect calls as possible

  • Learn about the product

  • Learn about the product development process

    • High level overview (PM buddy)

    • Team-specific processes (PM buddy)

      • Team Triage

      • Sprint Planning

      • OKRs

      • Join general Triage meeting

      • Join all feature team meetings (Triage, Sprint Planning)

    • Design process (Feature team designer)

      • Spec template

        • Competitor research

        • User research

      • Review process

        • Spec review channel

    • Working with contributor community (Jason)

      • Help wanted tickets

      • Community buddies

      • …?

    • Release process

  • Shadow feature team meetings and conversations

    • Contribute where possible (reviewing research and design specs, filing Jira ticket bugs)

    • Ramp up on a couple of ongoing projects or smaller projects

  • Shadow release process meetings and conversations

    • Ask Amy to add to release meetings for the upcoming release

    • Participate in Release Testing

  • Other projects identified by PM mentor to assist in learning about your area of responsibility

  • Update this onboarding document!

    • Helpful links, FAQs, and summaries of what you learned that would be useful for a new PM to know in the future

    • Example past project: Business Model Canvas

First 60 Days

Objective: Build confidence through contribution

Training focus:

  • Participate in job duties and begin to acquire ownership of a project

Activities:

  • Run Triage meetings with other PMs present

  • Run Sprint Planning meetings

    • Initially with other PMs present with goal by end of 60 days to do on own

  • Interview clients for research for an upcoming project

  • Document research findings and requirements

  • Work with UX team on specs for your project and validation of designs with customers

  • Work with Development on specs and PR reviews for your project

  • Work with QA on test plans

  • Prepare customer facing documentation for your project

  • Allow PM mentor to shadow you and review your work, providing guidance and feedback

  • Other projects identified by PM mentor to assist in learning about your area of responsibility

First 90 Days

Objective: Take ownership of responsibilities

Training focus:

  • Own all features within the release

  • Update and maintain roadmap

  • Work directly with developers, designers, and other stakeholders to progress projects

Activities:

  • Prepare research and queue next projects

  • Work independently with Feature team (Dev, UX, QA)

  • Answer questions related to the projects you have been involved in and areas of responsibility within the product (with support as needed from PM mentor).

Product Manager Duties

Product Planning

Customer and Feature Research

  • Interview and ask questions to clients and prospects

  • Document findings and requirements

  • Share findings with designers and developers

  • Coordinate kick-off for planning activities of new features

Product Vision and Roadmap

  • Roadmap creation - what to add to roadmap and why

  • Socialize vision and roadmap internally and externally

    • Participate in Roadmap meetings

Prioritization and Release Planning

  • Capture SWAG estimates from design and developers to determine length project

  • Facilitate prioritization decisions in sprint and release planning meetings

  • Keep Release Plan up to date with features queued for the release

Feature Design

  • Define requirements and coordinate design resources for features

  • Prepare and manage spec documents to organize planning, design, and stakeholder input of features

  • Ensure cross-collaboration between designers, developers, and QA

  • Create Jira tickets for features and bugs

  • More complete information on the Design process can be found here

  • Ensure designs follow our UX guidelines

    • Fast, Obvious, Forgiving

  • Determine feature availability: Team Edition or Enterprise Edition

  • Determine Packaging/SKU (E10 & E20)

Feature Development and The Release Process

Triage

  • Participate in daily Triage meetings (not mandatory to join every meeting)

  • Validate “Won’t fix”, “Won’t do” tickets. Provide a final comment of approval so ticket can be closed by QA

  • Ensure tickets are assigned to teams and assigned a fix version

    • Jira Fix Version = “unscheduled” means ticket has enough information to be developed, but is not assigned to a specific release version

  • Assist in identifying Help Wanted tickets

  • Update Fix Version to “help-wanted”, which will run an automation that will automatically create a corresponding issue in GitHub

Release Feature Roadmap

  • Provide updates to current release roadmap in PM meetings

  • Review and provide input on release announcements

  • Provide updates to Release manager on deprecated features, features being promoted from experimental or beta, and any breaking changes within a release

Pull Requests in GitHub

Review Release PRs and Community PRs to ensure the feature meets requirements for design and functionality. Approve PRs once feedback (if any) is addressed by developers.

  • Label = PM Review

  • Test for user experience, use case, design, corner cases, and bugs

    • May need to create Spinwick server by adding label = “Set up cloud test server”. The server is created in a few minutes

    • Add QA and UX resources as required

    • If there are config setting changes you will need to ask Development to change the setting for you

    • If you need to test email notifications, you can set the email configuration based on on settings contained on GitHub Internal Information Repository Platform-Private

Sprints (Sprint Planning/Retros)

  • Work with developers to ensure the sprint work accomplishes highest priority bugs and projects on release plan/roadmap

  • Jira is the system used to manage work items to be completed by the development and QA team

    • More information on how Jira is used can be found here

  • Ensure tickets are available for features

  • Prioritize bugs

  • Answer questions posted by team members in planning or on tickets

Testing

  • Participate in Release testing per QA assignments

  • Test features and provide input on PRs from Developers and Community Members

Security and Dot Releases

  • Inform Release Manager and QA team of any changes that need to be released as a dot release (security or critical bug fixes)

  • Participate in any testing or validation required to verify fixes

  • Ensure fixes are moving through development and review processes efficiently

  • Provide Release Manager with information for changelogs and release announcements

Release Retrospectives

  • Participate in Release Retrospectives (see example Release Retrospective Doc)

    • Provide feedback from PM perspective and offer ideas for improving the release process

Product Evangelism

  • Provide feature demos on customer calls, for customer training initiatives and for Mattermost Academy

  • Participate in events and conferences

Documentation

  • Update/create documentation for features/PRs

    • Maintain documentation on feature proposals (reference all design and development documentation)

    • Release notes should be written targeting an international IT Admin

    • Guidelines for documentation

      • Any in product instructions or documentation should never contain hard-coded links

      • A redirect page from about.mattermost.com should be used in product instructions. (See instructions here)

  • Maintain product accuracy on mattermost.com/product and roadmap

  • Author Forum, blog and release announcement posts

    • Example (link to Eric’s permissions post)

  • Other Marketing (eg; future webinars, event participation, etc)

Customer and Community Success

Customer Success

  • Provide Roadmap status updates for Enterprise clients

  • Assist with Customer Support - Tier 2 on call weekly rotation

  • PMs should be on sales/customer calls often; if not on at least a couple per week then request to be added in the CSM:PM channel and Pre-sales channel

    • Document and post feedback in Salesforce

    • Add/update Jira tickets to capture feature requests

  • Participate in and contribute updates via the Customer Request Triage meeting

  • Verify bugs reported by customers

  • Answer customer questions in Premier Support (PS: Customer name) Channels and in internal channels by CSM and Sales

Customer Requests

Feature and improvement requests from our Enterprise customers are logged by Customer Engineers, Customer Success, and Support in productboard.

Please encourage colleagues to file feedback in productboard when they are discussing requests in Mattermost channels, so that we have single source with all requests. PMs are responsible for reviewing the productboard feedback, and assigning it to relevant feature ideas. As they are reviewing the requests, PMs may also:

  • Work with Customer Success and Sales to clarify use cases, root issues, and pain points as well as the priority of the request to the customer

  • Propose alternate solutions and workarounds when they are available

  • Provide feedback on whether it's a "Won't Do" feature that we are unlikely to add to the product

  • Update the feature idea to link any implementation or design tickets

  • Update the Effort for the feature with a SWAG from the Engineering team

  • Update the feature idea to have a release timeframe (3 months, 6 months, future) or release version if the feature is planned

After adding the feedback to the relevant idea in productboard, the PM comments and mentions the reporter so they are aware the feedback has been processed, and then marks the item as Processed.

Community Success

  • Ensure devs are aware and included on community contribution projects

  • Prep Help Wanted tickets with specifications on feature and designs as needed

  • Help teams come up with and prepare community contribution campaigns

  • Answer questions and coordinate resources to community contributors

  • Review community contributed PRs

Mattermost Forum

Twitter Rotation

Product Managers rotate responsibility weekly for answering product question escalations on Twitter. Twitter is monitored by the marketing team, and they will @mention the PM on rotation in the Twitter channel when they need to escalate a question.

The PM on rotation can be found in the header of the Mattermost Twitter channel. The rotation switches on Monday and is scheduled alphabetically by first name. The PM on rotation will be mentioned on the first day of their rotation.

Organizational Improvements

  • Increase productivity of department

    • Make progress on quarterly goals and OKRs for department

  • Enable other departments

    • Training

    • Develop features for internal systems

  • Increase community awareness

    • Research and propose additional ways to engage with existing community and identify new opportunities for community engagement

Meetings - WIP

PM Meeting

Attendees:

  • All PMs, Release Manager

  • Chair: Lindsay Brock

  • Co-Chairs:

  • Vice Chair:

Objectives:

  • Update progress on features for current release

  • Triage unassigned Customer Requests

  • Share team updates and best practices

  • Gather input from PM colleagues on proposals to uncover blindspots

Time:

  • Weekly meeting on Wednesdays from 9:00am to 9:30am Palo Alto time.

Meeting Preparation

  • Post agenda items to the Product Management channel. Items are queued as a numbered post with a short description such as this [example](https://community.mattermost.com/core/pl/a58u4f5p77bpfx5ygyawnwm83y). Provide supporting documentation for advanced review. Confidential information should be posted in the PM:Private Channel.

  • PM on the Customer Request Rotation should have assigned all obvious unassigned requests prior the meeting.

During Meeting

  • Release Manager: Get updates from PMs on items scheduled in the Release Plan.

  • PM on Twitter Rotation for week: Triage any non-obvious unassigned Customer Requests.

  • Queued agenda items. Some agenda items that take a large amount of time may be time-copped based on other agenda items queued.

  • Note action steps for agenda items, especially when there is follow up required for PM who did not queue the item.

Post Meeting

  • Provide updates on action steps posted against previous agenda items. This may include providing a follow up agenda item for a future meeting.

Monthly Product:Sales Call

Attendees:

  • All PMs; Optional: Sales, BizOps, Marketing departments

  • Chair: Lindsay Brock

  • Co-Chairs:

  • Vice Chair:

Format:

  • PMs share roadmap highlights: Focus is on features with clear release timelines, and a clear benefit to customers, so Sales knows what is coming up soon they can talk to customers about. Demos, PRFAQs, and designs are shared as needed to illustrate the benefits

  • Open Q&A

Time:

  • Monthly meeting on 2nd Monday of the month from 9:00am - 10:00am Palo Alto time.

Meeting Preparation

  • Prepare a list of features you'd like to showcase during the meeting. The agenda of features PMs are presented are typically coordinated a few days in advance.

  • Prepare a short demo of the features. Show prototypes or designs if a demo environment is not available.

  • Prepare information that the team may need to be aware of regarding feature, and be prepared to answer questions about the feature.

During Meeting

  • Present your demos and share any other important information regarding features or upcoming product changes.

  • Answer questions from the team. It may be necessary to time-cop a particular topic to ensure we can share all the demos on the agenda.

Post Meeting

  • Provide updates on action steps posted against previous agenda items. This may include providing a follow up agenda item for a future meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can we take this feature out of beta?

To officially release a feature, it should meet the following criteria:

  1. Scalable: Works for 60k concurrent connections, 60M rows in the database, and in High Availability

  2. Cross Platform: Works on all web view sizes, mobile apps, desktop apps

  3. Measurable: Telemetry added where appropriate

  4. Documented: Complete documentation is available

  5. Secure: Reviewed internally for security, and included in future security reviews

  6. Accessible: Accessibility has been added for user interface components

  7. Logged: Audit log entries have been added to allow System Admins to troubleshoot issues

  8. Compliant: Anything needed for compliance is tracked in logs

How do I create redirects for in-product documentation?

Documentation that is linked in-product should always use a redirect from www.mattermost.com instead of the docs.mattermost.com site, to ensure links are not broken in the event that they are moved on the docs site.

To set up a redirect, you must have admin access to www.mattermost.com. Marketing can assist with this access or @jason.blais or @katie.wiersgalla can add a redirect for you.

If you have access, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the administration panel for www.mattermost.com

  2. From the left-hand sidebar, go to SEO > Redirects

  3. On the top of the screen, ensure you are on the Redirects - Yoast SEO page header on the Redirects tab

  4. Under Type, choose 301 Moved Permanently option (this is the default option)

  5. In the Old url field, enter in the new direct you want to use in-product in the format of /pl/default-page-description. Update the page description with your page information

  6. In the Url field, enter in the full URL to the page on docs.mattermost.com

  7. Click the Add Redirect botton and verify your entry is added to the list. You may need to page through to find your entry

  8. Test your redirect URL. This will be the URL in the format of https://www.mattermost.com/pl/default-page-description