Developing a great product starts with talking to users. Find out their pain points, gotta haves, & would loves. Never, ever fix bugs or release features without user feedback & data. After that, split test your deployment to find the best fit. If it’s a high traffic site, iterate daily using agile scrum or burndown, & deploy while the sun is up so everyone’s awake & can think critically.

A list of skills & experience are at the bottom.

MY FIRST PRODUCT

With DealerTrack, my product was an internal reporting site. The user base was 15 daily active users & 200 total users. Most were account managers, corporate accounts, & sales, but the data integration team & executives also pulled reports.

Over time, I turned the site into a self-service platform.

This was by necessity: word spread about our team (“We have a team who can send custom reports to my inbox every morning??”).  We weren’t a profit center, so getting approval for more reporting analysts was like pulling teeth.  I had to shift the workload from my reporting analysts to automation + users.  If it’s done right, users welcome this shift.

The most popular self-service feature I released was the scheduling of reports to be email. Users could set up reports to be sent to them, so when they woke up, they reviewed client health over their morning cup of coffee.

This presented an issue with usage reporting: since users didn’t have to log in, daily logins weren’t the main KPI.  Read receipts were useless since they could open attachments through the preview window.  In the end, I used qualitative data:  I maintained a close relationship with my users so:

  • they could contact me if they had issues
  • they would answer quick polls over email.

MY SECOND PRODUCT

I started on giftsing in 2013 (called glittz.it back then), moonlighting on lunch breaks, nights, & weekends. In July 2016, I shut it down due to competition & lack of user growth. I also started the product wrong. Lesson’s learned.

MY THIRD PRODUCT

I started OnlineTravelMap in August 2016 by creating a low fidelity MVP in WordPress, per customer development startup methodology. I use an email capture to populate an early access list. Traffic is driven through word of mouth, social media ads, & viral referrals. It’s currently in the customer discovery phase.

PROCESS

To build the reporting site, I worked with an offshore development team using waterfall for 6 years, then agile scrum for 3 years. I created high-level mockups in Excel, & initially worked with the team primarily over email. We switched to agile & used Pivotal Tracker then JIRA, conducting daily scrums, biweekly deployments & retrospectives.  In what seems like a standard for most “old school” companies trying to use agile scrum, we had a project manager not a scrum master.

With giftsing, I built the website with a LAMP full-stack contractor for 1+ years through JIRA, then 1+ years using Trello. The iPhone app was built in 8 months using a contractor (also with Trello).

OnlineTravelMap is built using Trello, Balsamiq, Mailchimp WordPress, Maitre, Drift, Slack, Artstudio, & Hello Bar.

SKILLS & EXPERIENCE

Product management roles

  • 10 years experience working with development teams
  • 10 years experience brainstorming
  • 3 years experience gathering qualitative user feedback through focus groups, email series, surveys, & in-person conversation

Methodology

  • 6 years experience with waterfall
  • 4 years experience with agile scrum

Software

  • 2.5 years working in JIRA
  • 2 years working in Trello
  • 6 months working in Pivotal Tracker

Team size

  • Average team size: 2 developers, 1 QA