Product Management Fundamentals (University of Maryland)


  • No standard background
  • Types of product manager: Technical, Strategic, Growth
  • Owns Product Requirements Document, roadmap, team communications, budget
  • Intersection of Customer (what do they want?) + Technology (is it technically viable?) + Business (is it commercially viable?)
  • Support Design, Development, Marketing (Commercial)


Starts at Opportunities and moves clockwise

  1. Find and Plan: What’s the problem?
    1. Inputs (current and future): customers, company expertise, competition
  2. Design: How to solve it?
  3. Build: How best to build the solution?
    1. Product manager is the communications link between the developers and customers
  4. Share: How to deliver the solution?
    1. Sales and marketing
    2. Benefits > features, capabilities > stats, differentiation, value proposition
  5. Assess: Did the solution solve the problem?
    1. Metrics, customer satisfaction
  • Find and validate opportunity, communicate to stakeholders, get support

What (Result) builds on How (Process) builds on Why (Purpose)

  1. Company
  2. Customers
  3. Collaborators
  4. Competitors
  5. Climate
  • What’s the goal?
  • Scientific Method: Observe → Question → Hypothesis → Prediction → Test → Iterate
  • Use Value Proposition Canvas
  • Validating the idea (data, market research, A/B tests)
  1. Customer Discovery: problem-solution fit, proposed MVP, proposed funnels
  2. Customer Validation: product-market fit (are there sufficient customers who have a high likelihood of buying my solution?), business model, sales and marketing roadmap
  3. Customer Creation: scale execution (growing demand, growing supply)
  4. Company Building: scale organisation, scale operations

Conduct interviews

  1. Current state: what’s the impact/frequency of current problem?
  2. Motivations: do they like my solution?
  3. Obstacles: why wouldn’t they use my solution?
  1. Title
  2. Change History
  3. Overview (what, why)
  4. Objectives (for customer and company)
  5. Success Metrics
  6. Messaging
  7. Timeline
  8. Personas
  9. User Scenarios
  10. Requirements (features with explanation)
  11. Features Out (not included with explanation)
  12. Designs
  13. Open Issues
  14. Q&A

Tools: Roadmunk / Monday / AHA / ProductPlan

  1. User research
  2. Information architecture
  3. Interaction design (focus on user experience)
  4. Prototyping (software: / InVision / Balsamiq / Axure RP / Sketch / Adobe XD)
  5. Visual design
  6. Content strategy

Conduct usability testing throughout

  1. Is innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. Is aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understandable
  5. Is unobtrusive
  6. Is honest
  7. Is long-lasting
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail
  9. Is environmentally friendly
  10. Involves as little design as possible
  • Waterfall: Requirement → Design → Implement → Verify → Maintain
  • Agile: Sprints: Plan → Design → Build → Rest → Review → Launch
  • Scrum: Product Backlog → Planning → Sprint Backlog → Sprint (team self-manages) → Review
  • Kanban: based on priority, not time

Agilean / BinfireAsanaPlanbox

  • Don’t market purely based on the Product Development phase; have a separate but connected Customer Development process.
  • Get customer feedback, but don’t confuse customer segments (i.e. Early Adopters vs Early Majority), and don’t confuse reason to sell with reason to buy.
  • Focus on the customer, tell them a story of how it will relieve their pain.

4Ps: Too product-centric, not customer-centric

4Ps → SAVE

  • Product → Solution
  • Place → Access
  • Price → Value
  • Promotion → Education
  1. There Are No Facts Inside Your Building, So Get Outside
  2. Pair Customer Development with Agile Development
  3. Failure is an Integral Part of the Search for the Business Model
  4. If You’re Afraid to Fail You’re Destined to Do So
  5. Iterations and Pivots are Driven by Insight
  6. Validate Your Hypotheses with Experiments
  7. Success Begins with Buy-In from Investors and Co-Founders
  8. No Business Plan Survives First Contact with Customers
  9. Not All Startups Are Alike
  10. Startup Metrics are Different from Existing Companies
  11. Agree on Market Type – It Changes Everything
  12. Fast, Fearless Decision-Making, Cycle Time, Speed and Tempo
  13. If it’s not About Passion, You’re Dead the Day You Opened your Doors
  14. Startup Titles and Functions Are Very Different from a Company’s
  15. Preserve Cash While Searching. After It’s Found, Spend
  16. Communicate and Share Learning
  17. Startups Demand Comfort with Chaos and Uncertainty
  • Existing: Better performance/service, high credibility
  • Reframe: Same customers, new problem
  • New: Largest chasm

Influences: type of customer, market size, launch type, competitive barriers, positioning, sales model, sales cycle

Chasm from Early Adopters (visionaries - happy with a MVP) to Early Majority (pragmatists - need a whole product including additional support and training)

  1. Solve a problem
    1. Customer’s problem recognition types: latent (unknown), passive (little care), active (searching), vision (solving)
  2. Find a beachhead
    1. Use informed intuition
    2. Market segmentation
      1. Use customer personas
      2. Use case scenarios: customer vs consumer, life before vs after
  3. Expanding the market (Bowling Pin strategy)
    1. same segment different applications (repair TVs, then phones, then laptops)
    2. different segment same application (one town, then one region, then one country)