“Product Management for Dummies” — short notes.

Ilya Makarov
7 min readOct 8, 2017


I wrote down the things that are interesting for me, so it’s not the complete summary of all the ideas from the book.

Main documents needed for product managers:
Businesses case
- Market needs document
- Product roadmaps
- Case studies, competitor analysis, user stories

This one I suppose is the most valuable image from the book. Differences between Product Manager and Product Owner:

Product manager skills scheme

Understanding responsibility with RACI and DACI

RACI Responsible / Accountable / Consulted / Informed — Who is responsible for completing certain tasks?

DACI Driver / Approver / Contributor / Informed — Who decides on a course of action for a particular task or function?

example of RACI

Product lifecycle (chapter 3):

  1. Four-phase product lifecycle

2. Seven-phase product life cycle

Phase-gate approach — is used in seven-phase model, where after each phase we should validate success of the phase (gate) before going to the next phase.

How product life cycle looks like in different development approaches.

Generating ideas (chapter 4)

Four actions framework

In chapter 5 there is an overview of personas. I liked how personas are covered in “Validating product ideas” by Thomer Sharon.

Market research (chapter 6)

Research and data sources can be divided into primary and secondary sources. to the primary we can set customer interview, support database, crm data and so on to the secondary it could be reports in Harvard Business Review, Forbes or website of competitors and any reports, press releases, industry analysis and so on. Don’t forget to divide each source into quantitive and qualitative data.

Porter’s five forces analysis

SWOT model is used for competitive analysis:

SWOT analysis

Prioritizing and Selecting Your Ideas (chapter 7)

Product market fit triad. Any changes in product, customer needs (problem) or business model you should validate theother triangle corners are corrected correspondingly.

Product Market Fit-triad. (Problem — product — business model)

Value vs effort. Four quadrant analysis. The highes priority get features from Quick wins square, the lowes from “thankless tasks”

Didn’t digg deep into Kano model, but in general it’s another way or prioritizing features:

Kano model

Prioritization matrix — set zero to five score to each criterea that represent any kind of value (usually 3–5) and calculate the total wieght of each feature.

Only you know your company’s culture well enough to decide what level of planning is expected and necessary.

Business Case (chapter 8)

Business case is more about the product than about the company in general (business plan)

Business Case document structure:

  • Executive summary — the piece is written last but placed first. It summarise the entire businiess case.
  • Problem and opportunity — what’s the problem and how can your company take the best advantage of solving it.
  • Market landscape — what’s happening in the market as a whole that makes you believe solving this problem is vest use of company resources.
  • Competitive landscape — what about competitors, how do they solve this problem, why can we compete with them.
  • Financial and impact analysis — how much money and other resources does the project take
  • Risk analysis — what risks do you see and how to mitigate them
  • Assumptions — any assumptions about future market, economy
  • Open issues — What are the blind-spots
  • Conclusion and recommendations — what is the bottom line, why should investors say Yes.

In startups it highly recommeded to use Ansoff Matrix — New / Existing Markets vs New / Existing product. fig 10–5.

Ansoff Matrix

Market Strategy (chapter 10)

Two ways of pricing:

  • Cost plus — we set price depending of product cost
  • Value-bases — we set price depending on how valuable product is for customer

Also there can be prices based on positioning and price based on quality, see Kotler’s pricing strategy.

The BCG matrix is used to analyze different business units and make decisions about strategy and investment based on market share and business growth.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix

Market strategy document:

  • Executive summary — a summary of the entire market strategy
  • Whole product offer — what is the whole product offer. Which components of the actual product and augmented product are most critical
  • Pricing — What is the proposed price for product& What is the strategy and rationale for setting this price& If it’s too far in advance, do any pricing boundary conditions need to be met. such as margin or cost.
  • Segmentation — Which are the target market segments? Why are these segments the best fit for your product or solution
  • Positioning — What is the overall product positioning& Are there additional positions for channel partners&
  • Messaging — On the basis of positioning, what are the key messages?
  • Strategy — What is your strategy for taking this product to market* In what way are you the leader& And how this strategy align with your company overall strategy and market position.
  • Launch programs — what are your top-line launch programs and initiatives. What a the key launch milestones.
  • Budget — How much is the likely cost for successfully bring the product to market.

MRD market requirements document and PRD product requirements document. These are two different documents. In some cases several requirements from MRD can be covered with one requirement from PRD and vice versa.

Market Need Document:

  • Executive summary (one page, contains 3–5 customer problems)
  • Personas (one or two personas)
  • Problem scenarios
  • Market needs (description: As a [persona] I want to [do something] so that I can [drive benefit])
  • Success criteria (how do customers measure a success)
  • Assumption, open issues

Market Needs, Product Description (chapter 11)

Interesting note about use-cases. use-cases describe how a number of actions tosolve a problem. However sometimes people who work based on these scenarios forgot about the initital problem and concetrate on described set of actions. So the recommendation is start abby use-case with a exact description of problem we are going to solve.

Implementing product idea (chapter 12)

Good features follow INVEST principle (chapter 12):

  • Independent — Avoid dependencies between features and user stories.
  • Negotiable — User stories are reminders to collaborate.
  • Valuable to customers — Avoid requirements that have only technical valu
  • Estimate able — Can estimate how long it will take to complete.
  • Small — The requirement should take no more than two days to complete.
  • Testable — The requirement has defined acceptance criteria.

Product trade off triangle: quality, schedule, features

The Quality Phase (chapter 13)

Good idea to have goals during beta testing, and requirements of success. Like “N people most use it at least M time”.

Planning and Executing an Effective Product Launch (chapter 14)

Soft launch — without active promotions, when you are not sure about quality or smth

Minimal launch — when you have small launch budget and few resources to work.

Full scale launch — is designed to maximize awareness universe as many leads and sales as possible.

It’s a good practice to have a one-page product overview for the product launch.

Marketing basics (chapter 15)

4 Ps: Product, Price, Place, Promotion

3 additional Ps (process, people, physical evidence)

Mastering the Art of Persuasion (chapter 18)

Persuasions basis:

  • active listening
  • convincing
  • asking for what you need

Working with executives

Influence map helps you determine who is on your side and how much they can help or hinder your efforts.

Communicating with executives:

  • keep it short and to the point
  • focus on what’s in it for the company and for them

Product manager career plan (chapter 19)

That’s the interesting part. depending on our past experience and habits we avoid (ignore) one-two areas from the scheme below. Personally for me it’s Mentors/Coaches, Volunteering.

I think this scheme is very valuable for PM’s who are woking on their career.

Common Product Launch Mistakes to Avoid (chapter 20)

There should be a number of repeatable marketing actions after the launch. Customers need more than one touchpoint to start using your product.

Why could you use early product announcement? There is a tactic FUD: fear, uncertainty, doubt — customers who are loyal to big company often prefer the safe route of waiting for the large company release rather than take risk on a smaller unproven company.

Possible release road maps (chapter 21):

First three about product release from customers point of view

  • theme based — when you release a bunch of features focued on one big improvement
  • time based — release at a certain date, no matter what
  • golden feature — each release should contain some cool feature

These are more about strategy:

  • market and strategy — not about a product features but about strategy
  • visionary — broad-brush of product development
  • competitive, market & technology
  • technology
  • matrix — roadmaps of many products