Archive for August 2013

Having an Aha! Moment

Every product manager will tell you the same thing. When it comes to software support, they are ignored. The average product manager ends up using bits and pieces of other systems, such as CRM and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), with a big reliance on common office applications such as word processors and spreadsheets. Tools designed specifically for product managers rarely address the range of needs that most PMs have. You may find a product that helps with requirements but that doesn’t help develop a product roadmap or manage the product marketing plan. It’s a hodgepodge approach that often leaves product managers without the basic tools necessary to do their job.

Aha! is taking the first steps to remedy the situation. They have developed an integrated set of software features that address the specific needs of product managers. The software helps to describe the product vision, set product goals, create roadmaps, develop requirements, track individual but shared features for multiple products, generate the messaging and positioning of the product, and manage releases (separate from engineering releases). Aha! provides tools to help track meaningful metrics based on the original and evolving goals for the product.

The software has social features that line up well with modern product management. Much of what Aha! provides are tools that help engineering and product management to better communicate. Ask any product manager why products are late or go wrong and, if they are honest, they will tell you its the communication between engineering and product management not a misread of the market or lack of understanding of customer needs. Microblogging, activity streams, and the ability to tap the social network of engineering and product management helps teams stay in touch and on track.

While the company is new – they only released their product two weeks ago – the problems they solve are not. These are problems that have dogged product oriented organizations for decades. How does an organization create the vision for the product and then implement that vision? How can engineering and marketing speak the same language so that everyone is on the same page? How can the development process stay on track and keep synced up with market needs? These are tough questions but at least there is now some help in answering them.

Choosing My Subscription

Recently, I upgraded my office applications to Office 365 Home Premium. When asked what besides costs drove my decision by Marc Farley (@MicroFarley) of Microsoft, I started to put together a presentation on my process that answered just that question. My original intent was to narrate it with audio. I admit to be too lazy to record it so I turned it into a presentation/blog combination. That made it bigger than the average blog post so it’s a downloadable PDF instead. So enjoy Choosing My Subscription with compliments to Marc for giving me a great idea.