How to become a product manager (and cease to be a sales director). Part 3

    In mid-November, our friends launched a course for those who want to become a product manager for mobile applications. Among the lecturers are employees of, AppFollow, Aviasales, Uber and other cool guys. Throughout December, a student at the kirillkobelev course tells how the training goes. Below is a report from lectures 4 and 5, which were devoted to painful issues for the novice product manager - monetization and team management. This time, for a change, in the genre of production drama.

    Earlier in the series:

    Part 1 - who are the product managers and a little about design.
    Part 2 - about the stages of application development.

    Act 4, in which an almost complete namesake of a famous writer discourages us from making a mobile application

    - ... on mobile development I ate a dog. Mark Ten, CPO .

    As I said, each of the students of the course is working on their application - with varying degrees of seriousness, but still hoping to put the knowledge into practice. I think I will express the opinion of the majority, saying that I expected from the main ideologist of the course Mark Ten some parting words during his lecture on monetization.

    First of all, Mark said:

    “I didn’t think that you all could endure this lecture (an excellent start - approx. Author ). I'll start with a simple thought: “If you can’t do an app, then don’t.”

    Thanks Mark.

    One could part with such parting words, but we will be honest - sometimes a good product is really enough a site. A mobile application is a tool: just like in 2010, customer requirements came down to a “page on a site”, in 2015 everyone saw a panacea in applications for mobile platforms.

    In 2016, the situation has changed a bit - now there are smart people who offer to "save" and "make a hybrid application." Let's agree on the shore: no need to make hybrid applications.As often happens, instead of combining the advantages of platforms and sites in a hybrid, all possible disadvantages crystallize. Interaction with the resources of mobile platforms does not work yet, the flexibility of the site is already lost. Seriously, these days, the mobile Internet is cheap and fast enough to get around a cool website with twists (no, I didn't say “cheap”, I said “cheap enough” :)

    Why did the natives eat Cook?

    The task of mobile stores (App Store and Google Play) is to outsource business. The list of business functions that the platforms take on is impressive:

    • Design standards. The food teams in faraway California came up with everything for us. Millions of users have already made the choice in favor of a particular platform, so we just need to not spoil anything.

    • Infrastructure shopping. Both in a narrow and in a broad sense, parties are needed to reduce transaction costs. Developers save a lot of time on processing payments in different currencies, on cross-border transfers, on settling legal subtleties. It is only necessary to put a tick in front of the desired country.

    • Security. Although Google has problems with this :) Nevertheless, if you do not get involved in local Chinese stores, most applications are completely safe for users.

    • RnD (or, if you prefer, R&D). Both Google and Apple are investing billions of their own funds to create new features, motivating us to move forward, improve, offer new solutions.

    • Hardware and software integration. Again, minus the weird Chinese stories, the platforms make significant efforts to make native applications work quickly and smoothly on their own hardware.

    • Distribution. No wonder the site is called a marketplace - the better the conditions for buyers and sellers, the more profitable for all participants in the process.

    Interlude, in which everything is relative

    You will be surprised, but for the pleasure of not thinking about many aspects of the business and focusing on development, you have to pay, in the literal and figurative sense. Here are some tips for the mobile application product manager:

    • Support for both platforms at once is a doubling of development resources.
    • As well as design costs.
    • The application as a product has an additional barrier for the user - it must first be downloaded and installed.
    • Attracting new users to the application is on average more expensive than in the digital market as a whole.

    As true natives, we all live in the cargo cult of the new version of mobile operating systems. Each update arrives dumps a ton of new requirements on the product manager, for the non-compliance of which the application will certainly be blamed (and no one will use the updates anyway).

    The climax in which new heroes enter the scene

    Everyone knows the saying about fish and the dynamics of decomposition processes. This dynamics is such that it is time to think about what tools will replace mobile applications.

    Here they are, the heroes of modern times:

    • Instant apps. Applications that run in the cloud and broadcast to mobile devices. Here is a good Tech Crunch article on this topic.

    • New generations of browsers. The growing functionality of browsers will help them partially supersede native applications, but I hardly believe that the future lies in this format. Google Chrome did not become a normal OS and a normal replacement of applications will not become either.

    • Messengers and new ecosystems. Only the lazy one does not say that the audience of instant messengers has caught up (or is about to catch up) with the audience of social networks. I don’t argue, users spend a lot of time communicating, but messengers still lack infrastructure.

    • Contextual interaction or removal of everything. But with all the efficiency of the Uber approach, it is organically limited by a rather narrow range of applications and is not always suitable.

    Intermission, in which the author, smiling guilty, sells advertising

    The absurdity of domestic reality lies in the fact that our consumer simultaneously wants new products and features and at the same time does not want to pay for them. A manager who wants to earn and pay for product creation will have to choose one of three monetization options. They differ only in the taste of tar:

    • Premium Tar with caviar flavor. You can create an application for which a relatively large and relatively regular price will be paid, but this is either a professional product or a mobile application of an offline product.

    • Free It should be noted that there are no free applications; it’s just not always obvious who pays for it. An investor (an application as part of a larger business ecosystem), an advertiser (promotional application), or a sponsor (travel companion) can pay. The application can also be free, but make money on advertising. In this case, you will find a lot of painstaking work on choosing and interacting with the advertising network (a minute of advertising for Appodeal :). In addition, advertising is not always enough, so think about diversification of income.

    • Freemium. According to the degree of reduction in disgust, built-in purchases are divided into renewable (“you need more gold!”) And one-time purchases, as well as renewable and non-renewable subscriptions.

    Continuing the theme of mobile advertising, I should note that Mark accomplished a feat and within half an hour told us about automated targeted audience purchases in real time by auction without pronouncing Word-By-Letter-Pe * (spoiler: * Programmatic) . He didn’t say it, and I won’t - go to any digital conference, they just talk about it.

    Meanwhile, the intermission is coming to an end, and since ads need to be shown at the junction of user scenarios, I’ll say that in the next action Anton Baytsur from Aviasales will appear on the scene .

    Act 5, in which Anton Baytsur quite clearly tells how to manage people who are much smarter than us

    Probably, Anton meant that the product manager should constantly work with specialists who are significantly superior to him in their area of ​​competence, but it sounded like we, having got involved in product management, weren’t too smart.

    Jokes aside. It's time to add a few words about process management and the project component of the work of a product manager. Let's start by cutting off the excess:

    • A product manager should not be independently involved in development, design or marketing. For this, there are specially trained people in the team (smarter than us).
    • At the same time, the product assumes the entirety of making business decisions within the framework of its product (at least in theory).

    The first lecture already sounded the idea that the product manager acts as a mini-general director, and his main duty is to set goals and create an effective environment for the whole team. Indeed, you do not need to know the intricacies of developing or designing interfaces, but you will have to choose the right people again, and again, and again.

    Let's stop for a second and fix: the only practical way to measure the success of a product manager is money earned by his product. The product manager cannot afford not to think about money .

    Scene One: Product Balancing

    Since the main work of the product manager is to communicate and organize the process, it often looks like juggling with burning balls (on a fishing line, over a precipice, under the gun’s sight). The ability to find balance must not be underestimated.

    This aspect of the work is described by the term product operations and includes the following elements:

    • 360 degree interaction. Both horizontally - with related functions, and vertically - with top management or investors. All participants in the process constantly have questions, and all these questions flock to the product manager.

    • Analytics and statistics. A product manager should always be aware of the dynamics of basic metrics, including because this is how he gets the opportunity to answer questions from the previous paragraph. And in one of the first phases to the question of how to develop the product further.

    • Revenue management (P&L, reporting and capitalization). Two key points here are the ratio of costs and profits as an indicator of the financial effectiveness of the product and capitalization, which is always difficult for IT companies. Capitalization must be dealt with immediately and seriously in order to have an up-to-date assessment of the value of the company.

    • Planning. Not only grocery at the level of roadmap and feature list, but also financial. In planning it is important to choose a horizon so that it optimally matches the operating model of the company. The board of directors should not discuss every sneeze, but should not lose touch with reality.

    • SWOT. The frequency and depth of the swot analysis is highly dependent on the maturity of the product and the approach to the development analysis adopted by the team. However, at least periodically, you need to pause and pay attention to your strengths and weaknesses.

    Let us return to the topic of financial efficiency: remember that the positive EBIDTA indicator that they like to refer to is not informative in itself. The investment policy chosen is much more important: you can cut costs and sit in the black at the cost of squeezing the business, or you can invest in development and sit in the relative minus. It is up to you (and investors) to decide, so it’s important to plan and approach in advance. The product manager will have to carefully study the cases of other products, because only from practice do options for market strategy and tactics come.

    Scene Two: product marketing

    Another important aspect of the work of a product manager is to bring the value of his product to the maximum number of people. It is worth remembering that marketing is a sales tool. Yes, in the 21st century it is already possible to switch to a marketing-centric model, when interaction with the consumer and the creation of consumer value is put at the forefront of everything, including development. From this, of course, it follows that marketers should take more responsibility for the profitability of the product.

    Also on the side of the product manager are basic things like market analysis, tracking competitors' behavior and key messaging, analytics and launching new features and products.

    Scene three, final: the product is dead, long live the product!

    I’ll say a commonplace thing, but products die just like everything else, in full accordance with the life cycle. Therefore, the manager needs to purposefully engage in the development of new products. This process is called - new product development.

    It mainly consists of the following steps:

    • Generation and selection of ideas.
    • Planning and prioritization.
    • Formation of business requirements.
    • Drawing up technical requirements.
    • Technical implementation.
    • Management of the so-called “Technical debt”, that is, the accumulated amount of necessary improvements.

    If we divide this process into functional components, we get the following picture:

    • Methodology. Scrum, kanban, something else, choose the option convenient for you personally. If we are not talking about a large corporation, planning should be as expeditious as possible, and for this it is important to describe in detail and correctly decompose the tasks in the work.

    • Rules. The rules describe the assumptions and assumptions that the whole team works with, and it is important that the whole team accepts them. For example, a priority rule can fix that during the development iteration no new requirements should “fly in.” In other words, setting the internal structure, the rules also create a protective shell for the team.

    • Roles of team members , for example, product manager, developer, designer, marketer, bizdev, etc.

    • Instruments. Choose your set of tools like Jira, Wiki, Trello and more.

    Deus ex machina

    Thanks to everyone who read to this place :). It seems to be the longest longrid in the series. We have done half the journey, there are three notes left, and the next lecture, like the ancient god from the car, flies to us data scientist from Uber Oleg Novikov, who will talk about analytics, machine learning and which of all this is good.

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