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Bringing Tangible Results Within the First Quarter

Collaboration
Roadmap
Prioritization

28 December, 2020

Frances Li
Frances Li

Principal Product Manager at Adobe

Frances Li, Lead Product Manager at Carta, recalls how a sudden change of direction and decision to bring tangible results within the first quarter impacted a product she was building.

Problem

I was responsible for a project that was supposed to take three quarters to build, but the business was hurrying to make it impactful and operational before that. It was an infrastructure piece with multiple functionalities and certain functions would have to wait for two or three quarters to be implemented. We decided to pick several things that we could do in the existing model and make the immediate impact that would translate into an increase in revenue. I would still have to figure out how to deal with two issues:

  • How we could deliver value to our users incrementally instead of having them to wait;
  • How we could build something that would minimize the affected area that would have to be changed in the near future.

Actions taken

In the first month of a quarter, a sudden change of direction was announced by the leadership and we had to align with the new company’s priorities. It heavily impacted the project I was responsible for and to remove any doubt, I reached out directly to our CFO and COO, inquiring if my team should continue working on this project. Though they confirmed that we should, they wanted to roll some of it immediately.

To do so, we had to cut off some functionalities. In the middle of the quarter, we decided that we would not launch a feature that we had built. But, we ran it on the backend and we could measure what the revenue impact would be. Instead, we pivoted to building what the business requested us to build.

However, as a PM, I had solid data to corroborate my position when meeting our CFO. I would show them the numbers, indicate the amount of time we were not capturing, and repeat our readiness to turn on dormant functionalities.

Lessons learned

  • Be prepared to face many uncontrollable factors before the product is launched. In this particular case, I faced two:

a. The business made the final call to value more customer experience over revenue. Increasing that revenue stream would upset the existing customers, and the business decided to wait with it for a while.

b. It was happening just at the onset of Covid-19 and it was bad timing to charge more our customers.

  • Being flexible is critical to handle all those uncontrollable factors. Being adaptive, being able to change the direction, and finally complete the project is what makes a PM successful. I knew that these were the right functionalities to build, but I had to adjust to the changed circumstances and build it once the time is right.

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