A Day in the Life of a Product Manager
Recently, I had someone on my team ask me what I did all day besides meetings and following up on open items…
He was being serious. What do you do all day?
At first I was taken aback. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that each day as a product manager is pretty different than the one before. Even when I try to plan out my day, I am usually pulled in so many different directions that it never turns out the way I imagined.
I like to think of myself as the glue between all the different roles on the product team. I do setup a lot of meetings, take plenty of notes, and nag you to get your stuff done with a smile on my face. But there is so much more than that – product managers are the collaborators, the facilitators, the enforcers – steering the team full speed ahead to conquer the product roadmap.
Here is a little insight into a Tuesday at Prolific Interactive.
7:30 AM – Wake Up
Review my daily push notification from Dark Sky so I know what the weather is going to be like. *Side note – I could write a whole blog on how much of a lifesaver this app is because I somehow ALWAYS get stuck in the rain (long story short, it is well worth the $3.99).
8:15 AM – Morning Ride
One thing I love about the Prolific office is the location! I used to hop on the F train until one of my teammates convinced me to put my Citibike membership to some good use. At first, the idea of biking from the East Village to Brooklyn was so daunting that I would just ride Citibike to the subway stop and catch the train from there. Now I can’t imagine starting my morning any other way.
Except when it is FREEZING, then I take the subway…
9:00 AM – Checking Email / Following Up
“Good Morning! Did you finish this?” “Hey there, where are we with this?” Somebody has to do it. Contrary to popular belief, this is only a small portion of how I spend my time.
10:15 AM – Standup
A 15-minute meeting with the product team that covers what everyone did the previous day, what we plan to do today and if there is anything blocking our progress. This allows us to get on the same page first thing in the morning and align our goals for the day. My job is to listen and ensure all blockers are being resolved efficiently.
Yesterday, I updated the release timeline based on the progress from last sprint, sat in on user testing and updated our sprint backlog based on user feedback.
I also had a mental Instagram break or two – @hudsonthegoldendoodle gets his cardio on at SoulCycle – this is considered user research right?
11:00 AM – Writing User Stories
One of the features we are focusing on this week is Universal Links so I need to do a little research and create the user stories (how we break down requirements into manageable chunks) to be reviewed with the team.
Each story is written from an end-user perspective and contains all the necessary prototypes, design files and research links needed for the engineers to implement the story. Tasks are added as acceptance criteria for a final validation that will be done once the engineer delivers the story.
- As a frequent shopper who loves being kept up to date through email blasts, I want to be taken directly to the company’s mobile app for an optimal shopping experience.
- When the app is installed on my phone, tapping on a product URL will open the product description page within the app.
- As a developer, I need to prepare the app to support iOS9 Universal Links.
- Create an apple-app-site-association file that contains JSON data about the URLs that the app can handle.
- Upload the apple-app-site-association file to the HTTPS web server.
- Use Apple’s Validation tool to ensure it passes the element for Universal Links.
12:00 PM – Re-Writing User Stories
I might be the one writing out the user stories, but it is a full collaboration effort with the team. I make sure to review each story our lead engineer, for additional feedback before our weekly Sprint Planner. If there are user flow questions, I make sure to loop in our UX designer, and design questions are reviewed with our product designer.
1:30 PM – Lunch
Easily the most important decision of the day. Should I get a healthy salad from Peas and Pickles or throw it all out the window and hit up Shake Shack?
But like, cheese fries!!
2:30 PM – Design Team Check-In
The team and I are constantly collaborating on feature requests. It is important for me to have a clear understanding of their vision so it comes across in next sprint’s user stories.
This week focus is 3D touch and we have already been through one round of user testing. Our UX designer is providing her recommendations on design changes before the next iteration.
3:15 PM – Play with puppies.
3:30 PM – Retro
We do weekly work cycles, also known as Sprints. Every two weeks we hold a retrospective on our progress. In this meeting we talk about everything that went well and didn’t go so well, along with how we feel we are doing on a team and individual level. This is our safe space where we can lay all our frustrations along with all our accomplishments to ensure we are continuously improving.
These last two sprints were pretty challenging for us. We were behind schedule due to an unexpected roadblock connecting to one of our 3rd party applications. Luckily, we were in constant communication with our partners who were really understanding about the delay and providing us the support we needed to get the app out. Also, our engineers have been crushing the feature work while tackling the current release bugs! To keep our momentum going, one of our action items is to make time for a team lunch later this week. Just because we are behind doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the progress and challenges we overcame.
4:00 PM – Planner
Fundamentally, planner is planning out what we can accomplish in next week’s sprint. I make sure to prep my list of what I believe we can accomplish, but the question then becomes – is my list reasonable?
We talk through each of the user stories and assign them assign them points based on how much effort they will require. Based on that, we plan out our week’s deliverables.
This week the engineers are working on Universal Links along with some minor enhancements that came out of last weeks user testing sessions while the designers are one sprint ahead finalizing 3D touch ideas. Once all these features are fully designed, user tested, signed off by the partner, developed and QA tested, we can submit our release to the App Store.
5:00 PM – QA
At Prolific, we deliver builds daily. So this means everyday I get a new round of items to QA – also known as – let’s try to break the app and give the developers more bugs to crush!
What happens if you triple tap on something instead of tapping it once? Was the transition between the shop section and the product page seamless? Are the text boxes autocapitalizing proper nouns?
6:00 PM – Surrender to the Flow
Since I went for the cheese fries this afternoon, I plan to go to yoga with some coworkers to recharge before tomorrow!
It might not be the most glamorous job, but as a Product Manager it is really rewarding to see how much we can turn around each day at Prolific and lead teams in building awesome mobile products.