Product and project - what is the difference? Opinions of Yandex service managers

    With the growth of the service, almost always it is necessary to describe the roles in the team in more detail. When all participants in the process understand each other's specialization, they immediately see to whom what questions to ask and what competencies are lacking for development.

    Therefore, if a small service just needs a manager, then in larger ones two roles appear: a product manager and a project manager. On the slang of technology companies, which is entirely made up of Englishisms, they say differently - a product and project manager. It can be one and the same person - just like a developer can do frontend and backend at the same time.

    But what is the point of separation of the role of manager? Who is a product and who is a project? On the occasion of a new recruitment to our School of Managers, which will end on April 30, we asked this question to the leaders of four popular services. At the same time, each of them shared a selection of links for the novice manager.

    Maxim Zagrebin, head of Yandex.Video

    - We do not have a division into projects and products - partly because the teams are small. Usually product skills are enough to build a job, and if not, you can still quickly go to baseline. A big plus is that there is no loss in communications. The product analyzes competitors, technologies and offers a product or development that users like. He draws in his head how this should work. But someone must turn an idea into a demand, into a task. If there are two people in a bunch, they need to agree.

    Most often, the product has a further planning horizon - taking into account MVP, reviews, and launches on new platforms. The project is more focused on the result, ruthlessly cuts scopes, understands the criteria and seeks to make them understandable to everyone. He decides when there should be launches, what kind of people there are, freedom of maneuver, how much quality can be sacrificed. Usually on the project lies the organization of development processes.

    More often only one of the sides is better pumped. I have to finish my studies. We try to check all sides when we interview a person: can he come up with metrics, lead projects, is there a technical background? By the way, we do not have strict requirements, should the manager code or not. A project can be done without writing a single line of code with the hands of a manager. The main thing is that the project should convey information between the developers, could say: "To a certain degree of abstraction, I understand that this is happening, but then it's cool if you talk together." At the same time, technical skills - for example, the ability to find a piece of code in CSV - greatly contribute to project management. The manager may not ask, but get into the code, read and understand. Or, for analytics, write a script reading logs.

    If the team cannot choose a solution, it’s better to say: “I listened, the responsibility is on me, we do like this. It will be bad - we’ll redo it in a new cycle. ” We value it forever. If the manager came from design, knows how to draw and prototype, this is no less a strong point.

    And still the manager’s trait is the ability to get a result or to admit that we have gained useful experience, but not a result, move on. People either have it or not. If not, it begins: “Here the subcontractors failed, and here the idea was bad ...” Usually this strongly distinguishes some from the others.
    Books for projects Maxim advises
    • PMBOK Guide
    • Mythical man-month
    • Waltzing with Bears
    • Kamikaze path
    • How to graze cats
    • Communicate with a child. How?
    • The art of managing IT projects

    Books for products
    • A mental hospital in the hands of patients
    • Closing the abyss
    • Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love
    • Agile Product Management with Scrum

    Elizaveta Semyanovskaya, Head of Yandex.Transport

    - The product manager is multifunctional. He has a part of marketing expertise - he knows how to analyze the market. Developers cannot do all 182 backlog points. It is necessary to formulate a strategy, to understand how it relates to goals, to make it coherent from the position of the user and the wide market of competitors and at the same time meet the goals of the business.

    Transport is now in a transitional stage - I want analysts to deal with complex tasks, and the products themselves could log the logs. Products are able to typeset - for example, they can make a landing page with a video in the background, fix any forms on it. Another product should be able to draw a prototype in Sketch, assemble it in Invision and test it on users.

    I want to pump more technically myself and them, I installed Android Studio here, I want to try changing the icons in the Transport in an inconspicuous place - in the settings. I don’t want the products to commit the code, but they should see it and at least roughly understand how it works.

    One of Transport's products conducts a lot of user interviews, and people have never refused to talk to her - on the street, in the subway, in a cafe. She has such a superpower. But not everyone works out of the box, such skills can be pumped.

    In addition, there is always a product that is very much immersed in the context of a specific release of Transport. This is in case the project gets sick or goes on vacation.

    It would be nice if the product had project skills. Our project is engaged in processes in development, is responsible for ensuring that there are release requirements, that everything is on time, has dashboards in the Tracker , sets tasks, collects API from subcontractors, etc. It must be super-communicative, ready with everyone to agree, to understand that someone does not want to do something, to be able to talk to him about it, to follow the deadlines, to be very responsible, self-propelled, accurate. And - do not die from routine.

    Andrey Gevak, head of Yandex.Music and Yandex.Radio

    - For me, a manager in the broad sense of the word is someone who takes full responsibility for some business. So that from the very beginning to the very end. As Arkady Volozh says, "start and finish."

    But on such a difficult path many questions arise - for the manager himself, the team, management, investors, users, etc.

    To the questions “Why?” So what?" product responds. In relation to the product, these are the most important issues, especially the first of them. The reason for the failure of many startups is not that some program could not be written or the design was not finished and closed. It's not even the lack of funding. The reason is commonplace: the product that the team did was simply not needed by anyone.

    Still very often, a product is a leader who leads. He constantly uses his product and the products of competitors, knows his subjects along and across and is in the know about all the new products, and also sees - or thinks that he sees - the situation for several years to come. And he so believes in his vision that others begin to believe him.

    To the questions “How?” and when?" The project responds - a person with a more technical bias, who is with the developers. He understands the details of the development at a higher level, can translate the product into technical fantasies and find a way to bring to life ideas that, it would seem, have not yet fit into the framework of current technologies. The project is a fan of the deadlines, for the team, for the atmosphere in the team and for its fighting spirit. He knows when to be strong, and when to step aside. And finally, the project is more pedantic and punctual.

    Combining this in one person is possible. But a difficult internal dialogue begins, the beginnings of a split personality arise. You came up with something from the category of “straight wow”, and then an inner voice tells you that the team is tired and we will not meet the deadlines.
    Links from Andrey
    • Blog “Go Practice!” about product analytics
    • Video by Ilya Krasinsky , Maxim Dorofeev , Ludwig Bystronovsky , Alexei Ivanovsky
    • Telegram channels, for example this one
    • Video on TED - you can start with dozens of the most popular presentations
    • Examples of how to “onboard” a user

    Mikhail Vysokovsky, head of Yandex.Navigator

    - These are exactly two different roles. Whether they are combined in one person depends on the scale. The product answers the question of what to do and why, and the project - how and when. A product is an ideologist of a product, it often changes context, keeps both a big picture and details in its head in order to understand how the product works in a specific scenario.

    He has at least five areas of interest. The first area is research. He is good at testing the problem and making cheap prototypes. One of the Navigator prototypes was in the form of a piece of paper on a stick, on top of the phone. It also happened that the Navigator works, and on top of it manually switch pictures, pointers. You must be able to test ideas in people, and the methods and tools are always different.

    The second one. The product does not live in space. It is important to monitor competitors. I think product marketing and product are similar concepts. Only the role of a manager of marketing communications can be separate, and the product must also answer all questions about classical marketing. Third, an understanding of metrics and analytics, not just at the DAU level with the MAU, but in the context of different indicators of service life and AB experiments. The product is ready to plunge into numbers, do the unloading, work with it. Fourth - roadmap. It is necessary to formulate that in such and such scenarios the product should work in such and such a way, paint the target, target audience segments, positioning, metrics. The fifth role is the role of a leader who inspires everyone, finds a common language with everyone: both within the team and with stakeholders around.

    No less cool if he has basic skills in marketing communications, design, development or analytics.

    The goal of the project is for the project, in the form in which it is expected, to come together, and all participants and stakeholders around to understand when this will happen. The scope that ordered, conditionally, the product must be executed. No matter how you build project management: through Waterfall, Agile or otherwise. The main thing is to achieve the goal on time and create common expectations for everyone.
    Links from Mikhail
    • IDEO portal where different approaches to product research with step-by-step descriptions are collected
    • A single PDF material on design thinking from the same portal
    • Presentations at Mind the Product conferences: a complete list , the best for 2017 (you can watch the video and from other product conferences)
    • ProductCamp closer to us: playlist , channel (look for other entries yourself)
    • Old blog posts “Go Practice!”

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