The dedicated effort you placed in building key relationships has laid a solid foundation from which to continue your learning. You now have a bird’s-eye view of key stakeholders across the organization as well as a first-hand account of their perspectives. Next, you will want to continue the conversations that will provide further customer and market insights. Absorb the precious intelligence from these meetings and make note of your perspectives while you are seeing things with “fresh eyes.” All of this will help prepare you for the Platform Product Management responsibilities you will soon take on.
Find the Voice of the Customer
As a Platform Product Manager, the products under your purview play a critical role in serving customer needs. This role, however, might be a few steps removed from direct user engagement depending on the type of platform you manage. Leverage the one-on-one conversations you have had in order to delve deeper into the customer experience and voice. One key channel, for example, is to observe sales demonstrations. You could shadow actual pitches given live to a customer, or you could request Sales personnel to present their pitch directly to you. In either case, pay close attention to the Value Story being presented as well as the underlying user needs the demo is addressing. Take the opportunity to ask questions about the product, business model, and – most importantly – customer point of view.
Keeping in mind the context gained from observing and absorbing sales demonstrations, continue discussions with colleagues who engage with customers throughout their journey. This may include touchpoints with your organization’s customer success, account management, or support teams. Wherever possible, seek opportunities to listen in on the various meetings these departments have with customers, and absorb it all. Be a sponge. This will start to paint a fuller picture of how the broader organization collaborates to bring the core customer value proposition to fruition. Along the way, be sure to note the touchpoints that your product has towards delivering upon that value proposition.
Foster Stakeholder Relationships
In your role as Platform Product Manager, you will interface with many different stakeholders to develop a product vision and deliver value to your internal users. You also have the advantage of these groups being internal to your organization. Teresa Torres highlights in The What & Why of Continuous Discovery that this provides you with incredible access to your users. This will reduce friction in setting up touchpoint meetings and receiving direct feedback. Additionally, it will open up invaluable opportunities to observe your users interfacing with your product. This will shed light on how users leverage the product and its performance in solving their core problems.
A great way to further engage your stakeholders and validate your learnings is by developing a user story map. This visual representation of your user’s journey breaks down the core activities into manageable components. This will provide necessary context into how your users’ product touchpoints support their activities. Furthermore, the user story map can be used as an asset to align users, stakeholders, and engineers on product goals. During these discussions, keep an eye out for what is top of mind for each individual and potential opportunities for your product to provide support.
Bring your “Fresh Eyes” Perspective
After absorbing all those customer and market insights, take time to reflect on what you have learned and make note of your thoughts. This is a critical step before sharing your insights as you may be missing relevant context. Some areas to consider:
- What are the components of the sales presentation that resonate with you and why?
- How do the team goals of each stakeholder group impact those of the broader organization?
- Where in the user story map does the product seem to be meeting user needs? Where are there gaps?
Given that you are new to the organization, the fresh perspective reflected in these thoughts can be a real benefit to the company. You will have a unique vantage point from which to seek out patterns in your observations and identify potential areas for improvement. As your time in the Platform Product Manager position evolves, you will naturally become more aligned to the organization’s current ways of thinking and can easily forget your initial perceptions. This perspective will help guide you through the many decisions that come your way.