Ask DN: How do you manage product execution?

over 3 years ago from , Product Designer

I'd be curious to hear how people are managing the tactical side of product strategy — how do you communicate and manage the steps needed to build & ship product? The two most prominent methods I know of are waterfall and A/agile.

I'd be curious to hear what process you're using, what kind of product your'e working on (is it launched? is it mature?), the makeup of your team, what tools you're using, and whether you think it's working well for you.

… or maybe you have a theory about how to manage product that no one's tried yet. What's that look like?

9 comments

  • Kelly SuttonKelly Sutton, over 3 years ago

    We're still relatively small, and we keep organization pretty loose.

    For organization, we've got a functional-but-ugly thing called "Sky." It's a Gantt Chart without the time estimates, and allows us to easily see what's blocking what. It also easily let's us see what's able to be parallelized, such as testing and writing the blog post for Feature X.

    From a data standpoint, it's a directed acyclic graph. From a display standpoint, it's just a list of lists. Each item can be tied to a GitHub issue or a LayerVault file/project, and updates accordingly. Here's a little screenshot:

    8 points
    • Allan GrinshteinAllan Grinshtein, over 3 years ago

      We also have no formal hand off process or project management software, save for the things Kelly mentioned above.

      Designers and developers sit together in a campfire chat room based around a feature or project (we took this idea from you guys at GH) and there's a blurry line between design and dev. It's sort of a well disciplined soupy mix of getting thing done.

      5 points
    • Daniel WilberDaniel Wilber, over 3 years ago

      Kelly, this is so weird/cool.

      0 points
  • Philip KarpiakPhilip Karpiak, over 3 years ago

    We keep things very loose, but controlled. We’ve tried bare-metal Agile and even hosted Agile meetups in the past, but now we found the system just got in the way with our small team size (~ a dozen).

    Now all our “project management” happens on GitHub. Proposed features start of as Issues and people form squads to tackle them. Bigger features require a spec, which are written in the wiki or Google Docs. We have sprints, but they are there because of our 2-week deployment cycle, not to do things the Agile way. The only formal meetings we have are a weekly one and any that are needed to understand customers more. We probably drink more on Friday afternoons than we sit around in meetings.

    As long as we have a healthy mix of building stuff the customer asks and fits our product, and stuff we want to build for fun & profit but actually be useful to the customer, we probably won’t be changing our methodology anytime soon.

    2 points
  • Tor Løvskogen BollingmoTor Løvskogen Bollingmo, over 3 years ago

    At EyeQuant.com everyone can participate with ideas. It starts as a Github ticket tagged "Idea", and people can chip in with comments. Once a week we have a more focused product meeting where we discuss all idea-tickets to see which ones we want to move over to discovery.

    Once tagged 'discovery' we usually do design explorations and technical research. This is also the phase we do customer interviews and use more in-depth design research methods. Then we synthesize what we find into what the design should do JTBD-style.

    Then I usually do design mockups in Photoshop. We might iterate once we see the design, and then I have a chat with the developers about implementation. I also assist with doing front-end code.

    We have daily stand-ups and a weekly backlog planning. We stage new code internally for testing before pushing it live.

    1 point
  • Rob Hunter, over 3 years ago (edited over 3 years ago )

    Is there a particular pain-point or opportunity you're interested in? Within the design team or cross-team?

    Process: Scrumish.

    Tools for Process: Whiteboards, Email, JIRA, Hipchat (+hubot), Mixpanel, Excel, RStudio/Tableau, Skype, Trello, Layervault, Dropbox, Rollout, Optimizely, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Crucible, Github, Gitlab, Writer, PowerPoint…

    Makeup: At least one product manager, designer, engineer per project / product with constant interaction with data, operations and marketing.

    Products vary widely from super fresh to pretty mature. Also varies within products. (Offline and online.)

    Working pretty well. Getting better and trying new things every day.

    1 point
  • Seah C-BSeah C-B, over 3 years ago

    We're a small team with a flat structure and no formalized process. It's great. I'm never going back to agile. MyFonts.com itself is a mature product, but we're working on a new non-consumer facing product as well.

    The most formal thing we do is probably an entire team meeting (~15 people) every other week, where anyone can talk about product or business concerns or suggestions. The core product team is only 4 people, so we're constantly in communication. It makes it really easy to figure out ahead of time if something ux-related could be improved and get it fixed. (aka lean ux)

    Agile seems like it can lead to a company culture of tunnel vision. Thinking of the big picture shouldn't just be left up to a few people, it should be something everyone on the team considers.

    0 points
  • Andrei PotoracAndrei Potorac, over 3 years ago

    I founded a digital agency called Vuzum 5 years ago. Last year in January we started our most important project: our startup Blogvio. We launched it precisely when we celebrated 5 years with Vuzum.

    Although we're in the Product Development stage, we weren't afraid to put something out quick, and iterate on that based on Usability Tests (check blog). It was awful to find out how much we needed to fix, but it worked great as we got the product to a point where it's usable. :-)

    There's still a lot of work ahead, but again, we're glad to get the data from the users that find us (we don't do too much user acquisition as we're not where we need to be with the product yet). Yes it is launched at www.blogvio.com.

    We use a bunch of tools to keep the team on the same page, especially since we're in different countries.

    Jira - kanban style, scrum, with the devs Trello - with the designer Skype - video conferences, and text chats Pen and Paper, or Penultimate and Evernote, or anything that allows me to draw and share concepts.

    It worked out pretty well for us. We've got a bunch of people interested in the company, and many users are already requesting stuff we've been working on for a while now. I think it's going to be great.

    Blogvio makes it easy for anyone to design and publish custom widgets. We think we did a good job so far.

    0 points