Welcome to a new segment on our blog – “The Product Manager Toolset”,
In this segment, we will interview product managers from some of the best startups in the world about product management tools they use on their day-to-day work.
Product managers have various areas of responsibility, spanning different functions within the company.
A product manager needs to manage and lead projects, direct their team, be involved in the marketing and sales, develop the vision for their product and guide the functionality and design of the product.
Since their job is cross-disciplinary, they need a great set of tools to help them do their work and scale it as their product grows and evolves.
We dedicate the first post in the series to our very own PM, Ran Klein.
Ran is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer (CPO) at Jaco. In other words, Ran is the man-in-charge of making your Jaco experience awesome.
So, without further ado, these are the tools Ran uses to manage Jaco’s product.
The Product management tools Ran uses for Jaco:
Project management and internal communications:
To manage our projects and task we use three tools:
Trello – I love Trello because it’s very intuitive and flexible. These days we use it mostly to manage Bug Bashing every time we launch a new feature.
Asana + Instagantt – Asana is currently our go-to tool to manage our projects and missions. It’s very easy to use for managing long-term projects. The combination with Instagantt makes it a great tool for managing your projects including deadlines and dependencies.
Craft – This is a great tool to manage products based on the principles of agile development. As opposed to other products that are about “projects”, Craft is built around the needs of a product manager. It gives the PM the ability to discover, define, roadmap and prioritize their project from a very clear and visual aspect.
The reason we’re working with three different tools is mostly evolutionary.
Since Trello is an implementation of Kanban mythology, it is great for managing small teams for short distance sprints. Trello was the go-to tool for managing Jaco early on.
After a while when our team got bigger, and we were able to plan further ahead, we wanted to use Gantt charts to sync and plan for our long term goals. We started using Asana + Instagantt for that.
We left Trello behind, but we are still using it for Bug Bashing before every release (we can do it in Asana just the same but our team is already in there, and its interface is great in this case).
A few weeks ago I was introduced to Craft, which is an implementation of the agile methodology. The reason I love using Craft is that it is built for POs. It allows you to define Epics and Stories in a very visual way that help the PO communicate the different tasks to the development team in a very visual and clear way.
Slack – Slack is one of the best tools for internal communication. We use it for all internal communication in the company, from ordering lunch to having separate channels based on features we’re currently working on.
To add to Slack’s basic functionalities we’ve also integrated Intercom and Stripe.com.
Intercom integration allows us to get chat requests straight into Slack, so we won’t miss any messages in real-time.
We made a list of tools to boost your productivity as a Product Manager. Read here Click To Tweet
As a product manager, you also have to collaborate very closely with your design department and assist them in becoming as efficient and productive as possible.
Invision – Invision, the prototyping, collaboration and workflow platform for designers, is at the core of our ability to iterate fast on new features design. We use it to comment on new mockups and discuss the different designs. The fact that you can get so much out of it with its free tier also makes it very accessible for startups.
Zeplin – This tool mostly allows us to improve the efficiency of our designer – developer communication. Zeplin lets designers export their design from Sketch directly to the developer, keeping the interaction between designers and developers to the bare minimum without hurting the development process. There are many tools that do that, but Zeplin works seamlessly.11 Awesome tools that every product manager should master Click To Tweet
Track and engage users
Jaco – Yes, we’re not only the makers of Jaco, but we’re also heavy users of our product. Watching our users behave is what allows us to see what our users are doing, how they are experiencing the product and what more they need from it.
Because Jaco was created mostly for product managers and UX designers to learn about their users, by using it I can also see what else I would want to learn or get out of it, and it helps me improve the product.
Intercom – I love the level of control Intercom gives you when it comes to engaging with your users. The ability to pop up a message based on context – sending your user a message in the right context of your product increase the chances they’ll see it and answer it in the most relevant way.
For example, we can communicate with our users about advanced features in our product based on their level of expertise in using it. This way we know our message reaches them at the right time and place, and this ends up increasing engagement and usage.
When a user has a problem with the product or is excited about it and just wants to learn more – it’s important for us to be as accessible and helpful as possible while making it is as easy as we can for the user. We use three services to deliver our customer support.
Calendly – Calendly lets you create an open calendar that allows your users to schedule meetings with you based on their need. It’s very customizable and easy to us. You can synchronize it with quite a lot of calendar options (Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, etc.).
Most importantly, it makes the time zone differences transparent,meaning you don’t have to start calculating the time you’re trying to schedule the meeting for in multiple time zones.
Appear.in – Appear.in is a virtual meeting room. Besides the fact that it simply works and doesn’t require any integration or efforts besides clicking a link, they also give you the option to design and control who can enter the room. It’s a great tool to use when meeting clients online.
Recordit – This is a great tool for creating gifs. I use gifs to explain new features to a user via email or to log bugs I encounter in the product experience for our development team.
A big part of your productivity as a product manager relies on your ability to communicate effectively with others (the team, users, etc.) and streamline your workflows as much as possible.
As you scale your product, each element of product management requires more attention, and the more team members you have to communicate and cater to. The earlier you start using the tools to support your work, the faster you’ll be able to improve its management.
Do you have any recommendation for tools Ran should try? Let us know in the comments.