A (Normal) Day in the Life of a Product Manager
Since joining Blinkist in June 2019 one of the questions I’ve been asked a lot is: “So, what does a product manager actually do?”
In this post, I’ll give you a glimpse into a typical day at Blinkist for a product manager.
09:30 — User Research
We are planning to launch a new feature in the app. Before we go ahead and ship the feature to all 13 million accounts we want to double check that it’s working and intuitive to use.
Every two weeks we invite people into the Blinkist office to test new features and ideas. Today, it’s my turn to conduct one of the user research sessions. I ask the participant to perform a series of actions in the Blinkist app and observe their interactions. Getting real feedback from users is one of the most valuable things a product manager does.
The user testing session runs for 1 hour. I then sync up with the user research team and designers to discuss the findings.
11:00 — Data Analysis
When we ship a new feature to the app we test it and monitor how it performs. We often run A/B tests to see how a new feature performs against the control.
Part of my role as a product manager involves setting up and running these tests, as well as collecting the data, analyzing the results, and deciding whether to ‘keep’, ‘kill’, or ‘iterate on’ the feature.
I compile and analyze some results from a recent test, document the findings, and share the results with my team.
12:00 — Lunch
We are incredibly lucky to have an in-house restaurant that cooks up delicious vegetarian and vegan food here at Blinkist. Today, I have lunch with one of the other product managers, but on other days I’ll eat with my cross-functional team, or someone from a completely different part of the organization. Food is a huge part of the culture at Blinkist and lunchtime is such a sociable and joyous part of the day.
14:00 — Sprint Planning
At Blinkist we work in cross-functional teams. A cross-functional team consists of iOS engineers, Android engineers, backend engineers, a quality assurance engineer, a designer and a product manager.
We work together in two-week cycles. At the start of each cycle we have a “working meeting” where we review the tasks completed during the last cycle, and then commit to the tasks that we want to complete during the next cycle.
One of the jobs of the product manager is to set the priorities for the work; to determine whether we should build Feature A or Feature B first. It’s also my responsibility to clearly define what Feature A must do. I do this by writing clear and unambiguous feature specifications. In the planning meeting we discuss aspects of the work that could be tricky or might have dependencies to ensure that we are set for success.
My role in this session is to also be the ‘voice’ of the other parts of the company. I bring information and context from other areas of the company such as marketing and business development.
16:00 — Communication
Time to catch up on Slack messages and emails. A product manager interfaces with many different parts of the organization. There are lots of communication channels to keep open and flowing with information and updates.
18:00 — Learning
One of the things I love most about working at Blinkist is that self-directed learning is not only championed in our mission statement and product, but also in the workplace.
At the moment, I’m spending some time brushing up on my data analysis skills. One of my colleagues, Anatoli, created an amazing course on SQL in his spare time and I try to find an hour or so a day to work through it.