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How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn

They say that LinkedIn is the dream employer. They put a lot of time and effort into each person’s success in the company and care about everyone’s well being. They motivate their employees to reach their goals and they have very few bad managers in the company.The culture within the company is young, trusting and vibrant, and they embrace diversity because it’s what makes them unique.

If that wasn’t enough to reassure you to apply for a job at LinkedIn and see it for yourself they also hold monthly InDays where they “ encourage their employees to explore new ideas, volunteer for special causes and invest in whatever inspires them.” If you want to join this awesome and diverse team, here’s how you can do it:


How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn


Skills needed at LinkedIn

Previous experience. Depending on the job you want the required experience in a Product Management or equivalent role is somewhere between 4 years (for a Product Manager role) and 10+ years (for a Group Product Manager role.) Make sure you’re also experienced in building web products and have the ability to drive product planning, development and launch.

Technical background. In addition to possessing really good communication skills LinkedIn wants the applicants to understand technical subjects and emerging technologies and their relevance to the marketplace. You should a hold a BS degree in a technology-related field.

Knowledge. Because the Internet is fast moving and always changing LinkedIn wants the applicants to understand the most recent trends in consumer web usage. They should be experienced in social media and be informed of the Internet, emerging web technologies and community building.

Abilities. Be capable of managing and leading highly cross-functional teams and to communicate to both technical and non-technical audiences in a clear manner. If on top of everything you’re also passionate with a good sense of humor, like collaborating, and are driven to deliver results go ahead and apply for LinkedIn.

LinkedIn user. When applying for a job at LinkedIn it’s an advantage to be a LinkedIn user yourself and follow the news and updates related to LinkedIn. If you’re not a user then at least do your research and find out what their mission, vision, strategy, culture, and values are.


You can check out all LinkedIn job openings here.


Interview questions at LinkedIn

Prepare yourself to answer questions about the challenges that Product Managers face every day. Here are a few examples to help you out:

A/B testing – How would you test a LinkedIn feature when you don’t have any data to base the decision off of?
Acquisition –  Describe how would you pitch Microsoft CEO that LinkedIn is a good acquisition.
Experience– What are your two main product management principles? How would you use your experience in Business to help LinkedIn? (If you have an MBA.)
Improvements – What improvements would you make to the site? How would you improve the signing process of LinkedIn?
Insight – What is the LinkedIn feature that you love?
Metrics and KPI’s – What are some main KPI’s for project X?
Production – At what point is the product ready for production?


How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn


The interview process

Over 80,000 job applications are sent to LinkedIn every year but not all of them are qualified to go forward. However, it’s important to know what to expect before starting the whole process. Here’s what the interview process is roughly like.

  • Takes 1-3 months
  • Send out an online application
  • Phone screening with the recruiter
  • Interview call with the hiring Product Manager
  • Onsite interview with the team members such as the Engineering Manager, Data Science Manager, and Product Managers from various teams (takes a few hours, be prepared.)


Check out what people that applied for a PM job at LinkedIn thought about the process here.

To help you crack the product management interview check out this video with Randy Edgar, the Product Manager at Uber and this article.


Resume – Work on your LinkedIn profile

Funny enough because LinkedIn was built for professional to connect, network and achieve more in their careers the best thing you can do in terms of resume is to update your LinkedIn profile. Use it as your resume and make it great. Here are a couple of tips on how to do that best.

  • Set a professional looking picture of yourself
  • Fill in your full job history
  • Add your education
  • Build your connections network (the more robust the better)
  • Interact with your connections in the comments area
  • Post small blog posts, project, presentations or even short videos to show off your knowledge and skills.’
  • Follow LinkedIn to show interest in them and keep updated with the latest news


How to Get a Product Management Job at LinkedIn


Additional resources to prepare for an interview at LinkedIn

Check out this interview in Cosmopolitan.
Read through this article about How to Land a Job at LinkedIn.
Learn more about the culture and working environment at LinkedIn here.
Take the most out of your LinkedIn profile with these tips.
Check out these 3 secrets from LinkedIn on how to get hired.
Take a look at this article.
Check out LinkedIn on the list of best places to work 2017 by Glassdoor.


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

Product Management Events July 2017

This July we’ll continue delivering a great mix of Product Management, Coding and Data Analytics events for everyone. Our amazing past events have featured speakers from LinkedIn, Uber and Salesforce. This month we’ll bring you professionals from Facebook, Spotify, Amazon and Google just to mention a few.

Product Management Events July 2017


Check all our events for July below:




Wednesday, July 5th

How to Become a Product Manager with Spotify’s PM
Speaker: Tiffany Dockery, a Product Owner at Spotify.

Would you like to get a job as a Product Manager? Join us for this free open doors session to get an overview of our part-time product management course curriculum, meet the lead instructor and have the chance to ask any additional questions that you might have about what it takes to become a product manager.


Thursday, July 6th

Integrating Analytics in the Product Development Process
Speaker: Daniel Brady, Has led data science teams at startups Wunwun and Hello Alfred.

When developing a new product or feature most teams do not focus on analytics until after it is launched. This is a critical mistake. Based on my time developing data teams at small startups, I will explain how to approach feature development with analytics in mind.


Wednesday, July 12th

Growth Product Management w/ WeWork’s Digital Growth Team PM
Speaker: Drew Howard, PM for the Digital Growth team at WeWork.

In tech, everyone is always talking about growth — but what does that actually mean and how do you make it happen? Get an overview of what a growth PM does, what kind of tactics they focus on and how they measure results.


Thursday, July 13th

Analytics for Product Success with’s Data Manager
Speaker: Matt Botta, Manager with the Analytics & Insights team at’s Data Manager will discuss what he believes are the keys to ensuring cohesion between analytics teams and product managers while developing new products.


Wednesday, July 19th

Product School Happy Hour
Host: Product School New York

Let’s continue celebrating! Drinks are on us! If you are an aspiring Product Manager, come to chat and drink with the Product School team, instructors and students. Although we teach part-time Product Management courses, we love celebrations and nothing better than Happy Hours!


Thursday, July 20th

Beyond Reporting – Turning Social Analytics Into Intelligence
Speaker: Chris Ee, Associate Director of Insights & Analytics for The Marketing Arm (An Omnicom Agency)

The purpose of this talk is to explore the ways in which brands and agencies can leverage social data, and how the brand can discover the “value of social” in their organization.


Wednesday, July 26th

Product Development with Spotify’s Product Manager
Speaker: Miles Lennon, Sr. Product Manager at Spotify.

We’ll share how to articulate the product development process at Spotify and the role of a PM. We’ll have plenty of time for Q&A about anything product, Spotify, or NYC tech related.


Thursday, July 27th

Understanding Engineering Challenges without a Tech Background
Speaker: Andrew Jaico, a Technical Product Manager at Warby Parker.

In this session, Andrew will walk through lessons he has learned in how to better understand, prioritize, and tackle technical issues facing engineers in the workplace.




Wednesday, July 5th

How to Prioritize as a PM by Google’s Product Manager
Speaker: Jeff Betts, Product Manager at Google.

In order to build the best possible solution, a product manager needs to understand why they are building. Once the problem and stakeholders have been identified, how does a PM tackle solving it?


Thursday, July 6th

“Ask Me Anything” with the Head of Product at Yelp
Speaker: Natarajan Subbiah, results-driven Product Management professional at Yelp.

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Raj Subbiah, the Head of Product at Yelp.


Wednesday, July 12th

Retention Explained by LinkedIn’s Senior Product Manager
Speaker: Aaron Salls, Senior Product Manager on the Growth & Lifecycle team at LinkedIn.

With the rise of single click sign ups and frictionless purchasing power, companies today are having a harder time keeping customers than they are acquiring them—meaning a focus on retention is more paramount than ever for any growth model. In this workshop, Aaron Salls, a Product Manager at LinkedIn, will explain tactics for retaining users.


Thursday, July 13th

“Ask Me Anything” about Data w/ LinkedIn’s Group PM
Speaker: Ali Khodaei, Group Product Manager at LinkedIn.

Building an analytics strategy is crucial for every product manager. How do you build and implement an effective product analytics strategy that quantifies and drives product success and iteration?


Wednesday, July 19th

User Research Explained by Google’s Product Manager
Speaker: Leo Sei, Google AdWords Product Manager.

Learn how to integrate user feedback and research into the design process to build products that users love.


Wednesday, July 26th

Transitioning from Finance to PM w/ Uber’s Product Strategist
Speaker: Ryan Cunningham, Product School graduate working on the Product Strategy team at UberEats.

We’ll walk through the key skills that transfer and those that don’t, as well as unexpected areas that will require a steep learning curve, particularly in culture and how to spend your time.




Wednesday, July 5th

Product Roadmapping with Flipkart’s Head of Product
Speaker: Sudha Mahajan, Head of Product-Customer Experience at Flipkart.

In order to build the best possible solution, a product manager needs to understand why they are building. Once the problem and stakeholders have been identified, how does a PM tackle solving it?


Wednesday, July 12th

Becoming a Successful PM with Product School’s Founder
Speaker: Carlos González de Villaumbrosia, CEO of Product School.

Are you trying to break into Product Management, or looking to stay on-top of your Product Management game? Come hear insights on how to be a successful PM in Silicon Valley. We’ll also cover how to grow your career once you’re a product manager.




Wednesday, July 12th

Interviewing for a Game PM Job: Difference Between Good vs Great
Speaker: Eric Lodge, product leader with 7+ years of experience in free to play games.

How to Interview for a Game PM Job, the Difference Between Good vs Great. We’ll talk about how to show off quantifiable successes, understand the space, understand live service, understand data, and demonstrate your soft skills (influence, communication, curiosity, humility).


Wednesday, July 19th

Bootstrapping Your Startup & Products in LA with Pinguin’s CEO
Speaker: Josh Purvis,  CEO and CPO of Pinguin.

Do you have a startup or just looking for a place to start? We often hear about huge investments for startups but we rarely hear about the less sexy bootstrap. Local LA startup, Pinguin and others will walk us through their journeys followed by a live Q&A.


Thursday, July 20th

“Ask Me Anything” with Cornerstone OnDemand’s Senior PM
Speaker: Steve Elmer, Senior Product Manager on the Learning Product for Cornerstone OnDemand.

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Steve Elmer, Senior Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand.


Wednesday, July 26th

“Ask me Anything” with’­s VP of Product & Strategy
Speaker: John Koehler, VP of Product Management and Strategy at

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with John Koehler, VP of Product Management and Strategy at




Thursday, July 6th

“Ask Me Anything” with Tinder’s Senior PM
Speaker: Ryan Mick, Senior Product Manager at Tinder.

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a Product Manager? This is an exclusive Q&A session to give you a chance to ask every question you’ve ever had, with Ryan Mick, Senior Product Manager at Tinder.


Thursday, July 13th

The Agile Product Manager with Cornerstone’s PM
Speaker: Nick Lesec, Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand.

Join us at Product School to hear Nick Lesec, Product Manager at Cornerstone OnDemand, speak about Agile development. A critical part of any Product Manager’s job is execution. In this talk, he’ll teach you the Agile and SCRUM process for building software so you and your team can realize your product vision.




Thursday, July 6th

[Webinar] Lessons Learned in 10+ Years w/ Amazon Head of Product
Host: Neha Monga, Head of Product for global marketplace pricing at Amazon.

As Product Managers and aspiring product managers, learning is all part of the process. That doesn’t change if you’ve been a PM for one day or ten years. This session focuses on the lessons Neha Monga learned from launching products over her 10+ years long career as a product manager.


Tuesday, July 11th

[Live Chat] with Product Lead at Airbnb
Host: Jiaona Zhang, Product Lead at Airbnb.

Curious about the life and world of a Product Manager? What’s it all about? Bring your questions to our exclusive Slack “Ask Me Anything” session to ask every product related question you’ve ever had, with Jiaona Zhang (JZ), Product Lead at Airbnb.


Thursday, July 13th

[Webinar] Mastering Design Sprints with Google’s PM Team Lead
Host: Ganesh Shankar, Product Management team lead at Google Germany.

Ganesh provides practical tips on how and why to use Design Sprints to kickstart products and teams, including war stories on how Sprints helped Google and Médecins Sans Frontières to build and deploy new technology rapidly in the midst of the Ebola crisis.


Tuesday, July 25th

[Live Chat] with Product Manager at InSite Apps
Host: Rahul Iyer, Product Manager at InSite Applications.

Curious about the life and world of a Product Manager? What’s it all about? Bring your questions to our exclusive Slack “Ask Me Anything” session to ask every product related question you’ve ever had, with Rahul Iyer, Product Manager at InSite Applications.


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager

Breaking into Product can be easy or difficult depending on your background. You need to have the skills, the experience, the knowledge… and one thing that will definitely help you is if you’ve built something. Showing the passion and dedication to your side project plays an important role in getting selected for the job. Alex Mitchell, PM at Upside Travel talked about this in one of our live chat AMA’s.


Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager

Alex Mitchell

Director of Product at Upside Travel. Prior, he was a PM for Websites and Identity Products, and before that Social Media Marketing at Vistaprint Digital. Holds a degree in Finance and an MBA. After his studies he worked as an Assistant Vice President for Marketing Analytics at JP Morgan Chase. He is passionate about integrating data, design, development, and strategy to build kick-ass products.



Can you tell us more about your background and how you broke into product?

I actually graduated with a Finance degree from the University of Michigan and started my career in Analytics at Chase Bank. I learned a ton about data, got exposure to “programming”, and decided I wanted to work for a small company (not a huge one like Chase!)

I transitioned to Vistaprint Digital (a small arm of Vistaprint) based in DC with a team of 70 developers, product managers, designers, and marketers working on the Digital side of their business. I spent a lot of time working on their Website builder, social media mgmt product, and local listings product.

And then I came to Upside Travel about 3 months ago to manage product for the customer-facing side of the business, and get my first experience at a startup!


The Product Manager role means a lot of different things. Can you please elaborate your role?

In my current role, I work each and every day with developers and designers and other product managers to achieve our strategic business goals. I also support the marketing team at Upside Travel and help with the requests that they have for targeting and tracking new channels.


What advice would you give a green PM? Any advice on how to conduct some effective competitive analysis ?

I would recommend a few things to get off to a great start:

  1. Ask a lot of questions from other product managers at your company: How do they work with their teams, keep stakeholders updated, continue learning
  2. Do a lot of reading! There are a ton of great blog posts and books online for the new product manager that should get you off to a great start (quick list here)
  3. Develop strong relationships with your team. They will be your closest allies (especially your tech lead) so take them to coffee, lunch, learn about them. It will be time well spent!


Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager


Can you share a memorable experience from one of your product launches?

One of my most memorable was launching Vistaprint’s New Website Builder, the code-name for our new website builder at Vistaprint.  The “last minute” change we made was to build a new subscription infrastructure at Vistaprint that would give us a foundation to grow from in the future.

The decision added significant scope to the project (and a lot of late nights!) but in retrospect was time very well spent as this infrastructure now supports all Vistaprint subscription products (digital and non-digital). 


Can you talk a bit more about Vistaprint’s New Website Builder? How much of the development work did you anticipate given your tech skill set?

Full disclosure, I wasn’t on the original team when the product started, but I inherited it from the testing stage and took it to launch. The development work (like many projects) was significantly more than originally forecast. We did map out the major features we thought we needed ahead of time, but once a product reaches customers and data/feedback start flowing in, everything changes.

We realized some of what we had planned for wasn’t relevant/needed and we also realized we were missing some major features that REALLY mattered. I did rely on development team estimates pretty heavily. I would give the product direction, they would share the estimate of effort.

I had to understand the solution (or more accurately, potential solutions and different LOEs) pretty intimately before pulling the trigger. The tech lead on my team was a large help in understanding this.


What are some of the key skills you need to be a Product Manager?

  1. Learn fast and learn continuously
  2. Communicate incredibly well
  3. Be the master of prioritization


Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager


Do you have any advice for someone with little to no experience in PM?

Build something! Go to a hackathon or meetups, find a developer/design and work on a passion project. Take this project to the point where it starts to get real, you have “customers” to talk with and collect feedback from, you need to make feature decisions, etc. This is the best advice I have to get into the field.


Would you say programming skills or UX/UI design would be good to invest in to be a better PM?

PM’s come from a lot of different places! I’d prefer to have one of each on my product team than 2 of either. In short, diversity of “types” of product managers in a company is a huge asset.  Currently at Upside, we have a mix of technical, analytics, marketing, and travel backgrounds on our product team.


Do you think taking some courses or getting certification could help get a PM job?

There are a lot of learning options out there for product managers these days (Product School for one!) and I definitely think those can help. But one of the other things I look for and something that might be good for you is to talk about a “passion project”. This is something you’ve built and grown and invested in.

Hearing candidates talk about these projects/products helps me really understand how they think about building things (one of the core parts of being a good PM). 


Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager


What are the top metric generation tools you use for your products to decide on success/failure of a feature or product?

Generally, I need a funnel tracking product (ex. Heap/Mixpanel), a traffic tracking product (Google Analytics), a database that I can query or database front-end (Looker, Domo) and that’s all I need to tell, from a data perspective, if a feature is working as expected or not.

I also rely pretty heavily on qualitative data and customer feedback with tools like Intercom, Qualaroo, direct interviews with customers, to help improve my understanding of product performance.


What are some things that you look in a resume and say “this person would make a great PM”?

Similar to some of my answers before, get building (even something small)! When I see someone who does hackathons on the weekend, has a few passion products, it usually indicates that they’ll be a strong fit at a startup like Upside.

In terms of “passing someone” I would say someone who has only worked in 1 field for a very long period of time. Generally this means that their skill set will be too specific and they’ll have a hard time adapting to the generalist nature of the PM role, but there are always exceptions to the rule.


Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager


Is transitioning PM roles between different industries (e.g. retail to b2b) just as hard as transitioning from a different role to PM?

I don’t think it’s as hard. There are lots of the same challenges in even very different industries. If you’re working with developers and designers in retail/b2b/b2c as a product manager, transitioning between each is just about learning how to solve different problems. It won’t be easy (LOTS of learning), but not as hard as a role transition.


What’s the ratio of designers vs. engineers vs. PMs vs. other support roles? Did you commit to using Agile or a specific process?

Like most things in tech, the composition of the team should be approached in an agile way.  Start with a minimal investment (maybe 2 engineers, 1 pm, 1 designer) and work with that to prove key hypothesis. When the team has more work than time, hire more or bring more people onto the team. We had committed to Agile many years ago at VP but followed a bit of a mixture of Agile and Waterfall (regrettably) when we approached a “set” launch date.


Any final advice for aspiring product managers?

3 big things:

  1. Build something that you care about (big or small) outside of your normal job
  2. Keep active in your local tech community
  3. Never stop learning from others and your customers!


Build Something with Upside Travel Product Manager


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

17 Best Product Management Tools Effective Teams (Actually) Use in 2017

If you’re a product manager or planning on becoming one, your company is going to rely on you to ensure that their products are well designed, functional and perform as intended. Product managers are often responsible for the strategy, roadmap and features that’ll be included in product releases, which is a lot of responsibility.

This means you’ll have many different tasks you’re responsible for, ranging from finding opportunities for new products and designing, creating and launching them, to overseeing your existing products, and even winding down outdated features that aren’t making the cut.

17 Best Product Management Tools Effective Teams (Actually) Use in 2017

Product manager, Marc Anthony Rosa, who’s helped companies like Buffer and Getty Images with launching products for the past several, explains the mindset of a product manager and the role product management tools play in organizations today.

“One way to think about an entire product, is to imagine that it’s a collection of smaller ideas or hypotheses. Tools like Trello and Jira make it easy to capture those many ideas in one place, and more importantly, organize them relative to one another in a way that’s meaningful.”

Rosa continues, “For example, You may have a collection of idea suggestions from user feedback, or a backlog of features you want to build. A product management tool makes it easy to sort these ideas, categorize them, organize them around lifecycle phases—essentially, giving them meaning relative to one another.”

It’s clear that in order to be effective in your role (or job hunt) as a product manager, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the best product management tools and software that companies are actually using today—in order to manage your task load.

With the role of product manager belonging largely to the tech world, it’s no surprise that there a wide range of product management tools that are designed to help you with a variety of tasks.

But which product management tools are actually in use by top companies today?

Many product management tools have a very narrow focus, providing assistance in just one small aspect of the product manager’s daily role. For instance, plenty of tools simply help with creating wireframes, that’s it. Others focus solely on mind mapping.

However, there are other product management tools that bring a ton of value to the table, attempting to be a one-stop shop for everything a product manager needs in order to do your job effectively.

Today, we’re exploring the 17 best product management tools (of different types) that effective teams are actually using in 2017.

  1. Aha!


Aha! is primarily a roadmapping software, and is designed to be used by company sizes ranging from small startups to enterprise. It allows product managers to plan out your products in detail and monitor features over the lifecycle of the product. This product management tool provides you with a high-level overview of your products, and enables you to schedule various milestones, like when you plan on adding specific new features to the product

Aha! lets you begin by creating a “red thread of strategy” through your project. It lets your product team create workflow boards for agile or scrum development methodologies, status controls by feature and requirement, and cross-functional release Gantt charts.

  1. Asana

Asana is very well-known as an agile product management tool, designed for product managers at small startups up to enterprise-level companies. It includes most of the features of roadmapping software, showing the status a project is in over a set period of time. It also allows teams to collaborate together and has the ability to turn your conversations into actionable tasks—which is where their real value is. In many ways, Asana acts as an intelligent task manager.

Asana lets project managers setup tasks for yourself and your team. You can organize these tasks by project, which can be set up in many different ways (by initiative, meeting or program). Tasks can easily be split into subtasks, breaking down the work, and then product managers can easily assign jobs to the most qualified team members.

Asana offers numerous integrations with other tools to expand its capabilities, including Slack, Dropbox, Github and many others.

  1. ProductBoard  

With a true focus on helping companies make informed product decisions based on what your customers actually want, this product management tool is intensely focused on empowering product managers to consolidate and make use of real user feedback—turning insights into action.

Rob McGrorty, Head of Product at Webgility, an enterprise resource planning tool for e-Commerce companies, chooses to use ProductBoard for his product management work.

When asked why, he shares, “Because ProductBoard drives features from customer insights through to roadmap and release in a simple and understandable way.” He adds, “It’s 10x better and more useful than simple roadmap-only tools like RoadMonk and others.”

What’s even better about this product management tool is that it integrates directly with all of the major development tools like Jira and Pivotal Tracker, and also connects with your customer touchpoint tools like Intercom to allow for a constant stream of new data to help you make informed product decisions.

  1. Axure

Axure is an example of a combination wireframing and prototyping product management tool, designed primarily for midsize to large companies. It enables product and design teams to create powerful prototypes without coding.

You can create diagrams that include dynamic content, conditional logic, animations, math functions, and data-driven interactions. This product management tool also lets you use a drag and drop system to create your diagrams. You can put together several different types of collaborative diagrams in Axure, including flowcharts, wireframes, mockups, user journeys, customer personas and idea boards.

Once you’ve created a diagram, you can publish it on Axure Share and send a link to other team members to get feedback on the evolution of your product. With Team Projects on Axure Share, multiple team members can work on a diagram simultaneously.

  1. Trello


Trello is one of our personal favorite product management tools because it’s so visual by nature, and allows for easy collaboration between different members of your team. Their format of using boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a very flexible manner. You can add comments, attachments, share links and more directly to cards in Trello, which makes it easy to follow one card (or product feature) from start to finish.

Contract-based CTO, freelance developer and side project aficionado, Mubashar Iqbal, is a huge fan of using Trello to manage the launches of his products.

When asked why, he shares, “I tend to fall back to Trello because it’s easy to get going, and more importantly easy to keep up-to-date. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other tools, but I find I don’t usually need those—it doesn’t force me to do things a specific way and allows me to easily track, bugs, enhancements, and the roadmap in a simple and consistent way.”

  1.  Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq is a wireframing product management tool, designed to be used primarily by small to medium sized businesses. It simulates the experience of sketching on a whiteboard—but you do it from your computer. Balsamiq helps product managers to quickly create mockups and easily produce multiple versions if necessary for testing and user feedback.

At the end of the day, this product management tool is designed for collaboration, so the whole product team (and any other stakeholders) can have an input on the beginning stages of the design process. This is for you if your product team prefers to use a simple combination of wireframes and running code to get user feedback, rather than building full-on elaborate prototypes.

  1. Creately

Creately fits into the flowcharting and diagramming product management tool niche, and is great for product teams of any size. Creately comes in a number of different versions, depending on your team’s needs—from their online version, to desktop and mobile—as well as versions that integrate with G Suite, Confluence and Jira.

This does however, lead to a very long list of pricing options, ranging from single user licenses of Creately Online for $5 per month, up to plans for 10,000 users on Creately for Jira at a whopping $4,000.

Although the exact feature list for this product management tool depends upon the plan you choose, all versions allow you to easily draw diagrams and flowcharts with what they call 1-click create, and dragging and dropping of shapes. There are many preset connectors, which are intelligent enough to know the appropriate connector for the exact scenario in which you’re using it. It makes diagrams are easy to align, size and group.

Other features include the ability to publish or embed living diagrams on wiki pages or your intranet, easy import of Visio files and the ability to export in a variety of formats.

  1. Jira


Jira is another very well-known agile product management tool suite that can be used by any sized business. It allows teams to collaboratively plan and keep track of the entire product creation process. You can opt to use Jira in the cloud, on a server, or on a data center platform.

You can set up both scrum boards and Kanban boards, depending on how you prefer to organize your workflow. Jira provides a dozen out-of-the-box, real-time agile reports to get you started with tracking the right metrics and there’s also an agile portfolio management add-on called, Portfolio.

Product teams use Jira to help plan and track software releases. You can use it to create user stories and issues, plan sprints and distribute tasks. Product managers can keep track of task progress as well. It’s often used to record bugs as they’re reported, and can help prioritize the order in which a team tackles bugs, keeping track of the progress made each day.

  1. Justinmind

Justinmind is a form of prototyping software, designed to be used by a wide variety of businesses. It enables product managers to prototype any web or mobile app, which you can define using a drag and drop interface.

This product management tool allows you to produce diagrams that range from clickable wireframes through to fully functional UI prototypes. You can quickly publish your prototypes and receive feedback from relevant stakeholders. It also has integrations with a number of other types of product management tools, including Jira.

Justinmind contains a wide range of prebuilt UI libraries, including special libraries for the web, iOS, and Android. You can create custom UI libraries and synchronize them with your team. Pick from many templates and styles, then incorporate animations and effects.

  1. Lucidchart

Lucidchart is well-known for their flowcharting and diagramming software that’s been around for years. With this product management tool, you can create and share professional-looking flowcharts with your team. Depending upon the pricing plan you choose, Lucidchart offers compatibility with many other tools, including G Suite and Microsoft Visio.

Lucidchart has a wide range of design tools for engineering, business, and product design purposes. This includes the ability to draw wireframes and create both iPhone & Android mockups, as well as mindmaps.

  1. MindMeister


This product management tool is a great example of a tool that does one thing well—mind mapping software that can be used by anybody. It’s a cloud-based way to capture, develop and share ideas visually. Being completely web-based, it’s usable on Windows, MaxOS, Linux and mobile devices.

You can choose from a variety of mindmap styles, including the classic mindmap look or an organization chart. It also acts as presentation software, allowing you to turn your mindmaps into slideshows that can be shared with other stakeholders in your company. One particularly useful feature of MindMeister for product managers is that you can convert the ideas in your mindmap directly into actionable tasks.

  1. Mockingbird

Mockingbird is a wireframing product management tool for startups. It enables you to mockup an application by dragging and dropping UI elements. It’s easy to use, so you can mockup designs quickly and easily—even during the middle of a meeting.

What’s particularly useful for product managers with Mockingbird, is that you can link multiple mockups together and view them interactively as a single cohesive experience. This gives you a better feel for how an application will work as you click between different pages. You can also collaborate live with other team members and clients who can edit wireframes in real-time.

  1. OmniPlan

This product management tool is primarily roadmapping software, designed specifically for startups. It’s one amongst a range of Omni planning products, including OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and OmniPresence. With OmniPlan, you have the option of buying the Standard version, which covers all of the planning essentials, or the Advanced version which has more features like revision history.

As with most forms of planning software, this tool’s focus is strongly on task management. It includes critical path analysis and highlights the important tasks that will have a direct influence on finishing a project by deadline. You can filter tasks by specific resources, priority and date ranges. You can use it to automatically optimize resources and tasks throughout a project to help finish on time.

  1. Pencil

Pencil is a form of free open-source prototyping software, which is great for anyone who’s just getting started and wants to test the waters with something free.

This product management tool enables easy GUI prototyping, with a selection of built-in shapes provided for drawing prototypes of virtually any type of system. It comes with desktop and web UI shapes, as well as Android and iOS stencils pre-installed.

You can also use connectors to wire shapes together and create full on diagrams. Then, you can link elements in a diagram to other pages within the same document. This means you can make a more realistic app or website mockup, where you can click through from one page to another.

  1. Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker

Pivotal Tracker is another well-established agile product management tool suite, designed mostly for medium to large businesses. An entire product team can track a project through its various stages, with priorities, assignments and timeframes given for its advancement to release.

With this product management tool, you start with each project’s story. The emphasis here is on outlining what the user needs. You then define the story, and your team records the features, bugs, and chores to be done in order to ship the project. You can then make various estimates, drag and drop items into a time scale and determine priorities.

Pivotal Tracker uses the story metaphor throughout, calculating a velocity score for teams based on story points they complete. You can even set up workspaces in whichever way best suits your needs— having multiple stories in a workspace if that’s how your team works. It provides you with a wealth of analytics, showing your team’s progress at working through projects and stories.

  1. ProdPad

ProdPad is a roadmapping tool. It focuses on enabling product managers to create roadmaps for their products easily. Like others, it uses the drag and drop method to simplify roadmap creation; you simply drop tasks or sections of information into the appropriate timeframe. For instance, if you decide that redesigning your homepage has become a higher priority, you can simply drag the box containing information about it to a nearer time in your schedule.

What’s most unique about ProdPad is that they include a priority chart where you can accumulate ideas from a wide variety of sources and graphically show how each idea affects both impact and team effort.

It allows you to record and track customer feedback, everything from feature requests to helpdesk tickets. You can also tie in these requests to your product backlog, showing you insights like which new features are requested most often.

  1. Roadmunk

Roadmunk is another form of roadmapping product management tool, designed for companies of all sizes. It integrates well with Jira, so you can easily create a roadmap simply by importing any product planning data you’ve already entered into Jira.

Roadmunk allows you to collaborate and work across your various product roadmaps as a company. Product roadmaps in Roadmonk help your product team visualize your features, integrations, stickiness, improvements, infrastructure and testing efforts for a product across a timeline. You can choose to create agile roadmaps, technology roadmaps and department-focused business roadmaps, as well as roadmaps for multiple products, portfolios and teams.

Then at the end of all your planning, you can merge everything together into one master roadmap to make sure your plans are realistic, given resource constraints.


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

Intro to Machine Learning with Google

We already know about online sites that have recommendation engines. Those are one form of personalization tools that use Artificial Intelligence. Another one is voice activated intelligence assistants like Siri but what exactly is machine learning and what can it be used for?

Melody Ivory, a product manager at Google Home, works with Machine Learning every day blending it with hardware and software. In a recent event, she gave us an introduction to Machine Learning.



Intro to Machine Learning with GoogleMelody Ivory

Product Manager on the Hardware Goods team at Google Home. Before Google, she worked at GE Power’s digital transformation team as a PM for software to control power plants. She has experience in other fields than PM because she has also held PM, UX, and software developer roles at Microsoft, NetRaker, and the Internet Factory and served as a UW professor. Holds a Ph.D./MS in computer science, BS in CS/Math, and MBA.



Distinguishing Machine Learning from other fields

Machine learning, deep learning, A.I… So many different but oh so similar terms. How are they different from each other? Machine learning & algorithms can be used, for example, to define whether a web design is good or for optimizing the way a gas turbine works in a power plant. It can also be used in content suggestion like in Google search. “Machine learning is all about how you teach a computer to learn.” It’s not the same thing as A.I., but it’s a part of it.

Before diving into Machine Learning let’s look at this list we put together to define what Machine Learning and the others really mean.

Computer Science: Theories, experiments, and engineering to inform computer design or use.
Data Science: Methods, processes, and systems to extract insights from data.
Analytics: Discovery of meaningful patterns in data.
Artificial Intelligence/A.I.: Intelligence exhibited by machines to mimic a human mind.
Machine Learning: Computers being able to learn without someone having to hand-code each step. Machine learning is a subset of A.I. that consists mainly of algorithms and data.
Deep Learning: Multi-layered algorithms for learning from data. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning, and it’s about doing things with a lot of data and A.I.


Intro to Machine Learning with Google


Machine Learning and Algorithms

Now let’s dig into it. The main thing in machine learning is that you have to ask good questions to get good answers. Before you can even start the process, you have to know what you want to know. After that, you think about the algorithms that you’re going to use as part of the process. “The algorithms dictate the type of data that you need to collect or how you need to prepare it to go into the algorithms.”

The algorithms determine what kind of output you get, so you also need to know the type of answers you want before you start doing anything. The algorithms have to be determined before collecting the data. The key is to use good data to get good data. After the process is finished, it’ll be repeated with an improved model.


Intro to Machine Learning with Google


Important questions used in Machine Learning

Like mentioned before the most important thing in Machine Learning is asking good questions. There are different questions in separate stages of the process that can help answer these various questions well.

The question what is to monitor. If we do this then what. Why diagnoses the situation. When we did this why did that happen? Why adds more value and more information that you can act on but both of these questions answer to something that has already happened in the past and therefore they only give you information.

Predicting question when can tell you what will happen and it adds even more value than why because it can give insight at the moment. The last stage is optimizing with questions like what if and how to. They can tell you in advance when something is going happen and give you a chance to do something about it. Questions can drive value to Machine Learning.


Machine Learning process

The process itself is divided into two phases; learning and predicting. Your goal is to get a model done by using algorithms. In the first phase you start by choosing the questions you want to ask and the algorithms you want to use. Next, you collect the data and clean it. This takes most of the time because it can take a while getting the good data and cleaning it up.

The next step you build and evaluate the models and algorithms, and lastly, you deploy the model. In the second phase, you put your new data into the deployed model to get the answers you’ve wanted all along, and the last step is adapting.

Intro to Machine Learning with Google


Questions from the audience


How did you get the algorithms to define whether your web design was good?

Keep in mind that I did that in 2001, but I used algorithms from IBM SPSS which is a statistics program. Today I would use R Project because it has all these algorithms for free. It also has different program environments to do, for example, commandment lines and batch stuff. The reality is that you don’t know exactly what parameters to use. Every algorithm has a different sense and a lot of the times you just have to try it over and over again to see the results.


Can you talk about a product that was supposed to be using machine learning that did not work?

I have not worked on a product that tried to use machine learning and didn’t work because if it doesn’t work you used the wrong algorithms or you got the wrong data. You just need to keep trying until it does. Sometimes you have to make different transformations to your data to get it to work.

When you step into the hat of “I’m building something in machine learning” you don’t stop until you’ve built something that works and you through everything at it. That’s how it works.


Intro to Machine Learning with Google


What are the opportunities working in this field part-time?

You can get experience and get paid through, for instance, Kaggle, a crowd source data mining company, where you do competitions building models. Whoever builds the best model wins prices. That’s one way to do it part-time and on your own time. You choose which things you want to compete in. If you win, you get money.

But if you say I want to get paid for this 30 hours that I worked I’d say consulting is a better opportunity. On Upwork the fastest growing category is machine learning, people with machine learning expertise. If you have that expertise, there are a lot of startups and a lot of larger companies looking to bring freelancers into the company, so there are easy ways to get into it.


Intro to Machine Learning with Google


Machine learning is on top of the world right now. It’s something that everybody’s talking about and that a lot of companies are investing in. It provides, even more, opportunities for Product Managers and more interesting things to gain knowledge about, and on top of everything, it’s fascinating! Get into it and build your skillset


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product Career

There truly is a market for Product Managers and we don’t mean just the big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Spotify that are always hiring. We’re talking about the huge amount of companies that may not fall into the tech category but that still build software and need Product Managers. So what kind of background and skillset do you need to launch a career in Product? Our Slack community sent out some questions to the Product Manager at Henry Schein to discuss this.


 How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product CareerDan Larsen

Product Manager at Henry Schein, previously a Product Analyst, Quality Assurance Engineer and Support Team Leader in the same company. Holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management.




How do you translate technology to an organization that focuses on dental equipment?

Henry Schein does distribute dental products, but we also build software and technology solutions for dentists, which is the division of Henry Schein that I work in and focus on.


What technical skills does a good product manager need to know?

I think it varies and no two PM’s are alike. Some are more technical, others are more business focused, others may be more customer/industry experienced. The best are strong in all three areas. It’s like baseball, you want to be able to hit, throw, run, catch — have a well rounded game. I wouldn’t focus on one skill, but more on dev processes than actual code or technology.


How different is it to be a Product Manager in a manufacturing industry to electronics/app based industry?

I’ve always been in software. I see PM as a partner to development and a leader of the cross functional operations team. If it has to do with the experience of the user, I usually want and have a seat at the table for those conversations.


Why should one become a product manager from an engineering background?

I think only you can answer that question, but for me, what I love about product is the diversity, I worked with a customer this morning, then worked on a partner contract agreement, and then worked with development on requirements for a feature. I love business and the competitive side and understanding what influences buyers to make purchase decisions.


How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product Career


What skills and tools do you use on the job and how did you develop them?

I love Pendo and use it heavily. I also use Product Plan, Slack, and Asana a lot. The skills just come from experience and making tons of mistakes. I read as much as I can. Don’t be afraid to ask what might seem like a rookie question. My career path was support, then QA/dev, then business/product analysis, so I started in customer service and support then learned dev processes while going to school to study business. Just read as much as you can and continue being in groups like this.


I’ve been told that aspiring PM’s should learn everything from Java, Android/iOS, SQL, HTML to CSS. What do you think?

I’m weird, I kind of disagree on the need to understand SQL, JS, etc. I would focus more on the development process. If you’re starting in your career and want to get a good base, I think that’s a great idea, but I don’t think you need to have a CS degree. Get a job in support or do work on your own on the side to build a website. More technical skills are a good thing, but we have 12 PM’s on my team and none have a CS degree. This varies by company, but I don’t think its a must.


How do you balance Product-Market Fit (PMF) and metrics very early in a product?

We use NPS very heavily, and I think those concepts can be used before the product is shipped. I like the pragmatic concept that you’re trying to solve problems customers are willing to pay to have solved. Measure and understand the value of your solution, and make sure that your solution is a solution to their real problems. Paper prototypes, interviews, relentless search for understanding of the user.


How does someone break into a PM role and why is a PM not in charge of P&L?

For me, I just stuck with my company and as we grew, the opportunity came. I was annoying about it, and made sure the VP and directors at the time knew how badly I wanted to be in Product. I also looked for ways to help the product team before I was in the role officially so they knew I was a go-getter and was about the customer and solving problems.

Be an expert on your product and market. Learn your customer and know what they need to be successful with their business and you’ll bring a lot to the table. PM should be involved and understand the P&L and make decisions that positively affect financials.


How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product Career


Could you elaborate on your product ideation & validation process, given your very unique customer set?

For me, it comes from spending a tremendous amount of time with customers and trying to understand their business as well as they do. When you do that, the ideas will be very obvious, and it will come down to determining priority and how to build.

I love the validation process because I like LSS and the data side to the PM job, so it’s fun to say, OK, how many people will benefit from this solution, which segments of the market can use it and what percentage will pay for it. What does the competition look like. Think about how you will market the product before you ever build it — what’s your unique value proposition?


Can you talk a little bit more about the advantages and challenges about working with SaaS products?

I’ve done both client server/license model and SaaS model. The SaaS advantage is the ease of deployment to everyone and how much you can learn quickly. The challenge is that if your solution is business critical for the user, it’s a huge responsibility to keep the app running and performing well. It’s a constant effort. Also, typically barriers to exit can be lower if they didn’t put down a huge chunk of money for an upfront license. There are lots more, but that’s what comes to mind for me.


Any tips for a brand new Product Manager just starting up?

This might sound simple, but make as many friends as you can. A good product manager needs to have strong relationships with his or her team.


How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product Career


What has mentorship looked like in your career, especially when starting out in PM? Any advice?

My mentor is the reason I became a PM. I saw what he was doing and thought, wow, that looks like an awesome job, I want to do that. Being a good mentee would be asking for opportunities to help, in any capacity, ask for recommendations of good books. Most of my mentors have been inside my company, because there was a natural connection and introduction to those people, but it doesn’t have to be. I think it’s great to have an external mentor as well.


What’s the right time to become a PM? I’ve done SW engineering for 6+ yrs and been a Business IT Consultant for 6+ years.

I say go for it. I see three pillars to a good PM – technical, business, industry. You have at least one of those nailed. I say go for it now.


How do you communicate to your customers, if what they are expecting is unreasonable?

Such a tricky thing to do. It’s not easy. Users will very often gravitate towards offering the solution they think they need. Redirect that, and ask about the pain point. What is the problem they have. If the customer asks for a button, ask what pain the button will solve — that info is gold for you. If they always go back to the solution and it really is wrong, illegal, not important, then just say thanks for the feedback.

You can also use a tool like UserVoice — if no other users ask for it, then the crazy user will understand why its not being built — no one else wants this. If tons of people ask for the solution that sounds crazy, then you have some work to do to understand why.


How important it is to fail in a PM role to understand the real need of the customer for a product?

If you never fail, you’re probably playing it too safe. I think a failure in a PM role is spending tons of money on a product that no one wants or is willing to pay for. Now, if it’s buggy or something then it’s not all on you as a PM, but if the premise is wrong and you don’t check and validate that before spending on dev, that’s probably a PM failure. Miss small and often, don’t miss huge on a big bang release idea.


How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product Career


Have you ever wondered why companies require their PM’s to be a PM elsewhere first?

Chicken and egg problem. How do you get experience if no one will give you an at-bat? I say just stick with it. Be relentless about your desire to be a PM. Honestly, it took me years longer to get a PM job than I thought it would. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe in working hard and taking the opportunities when they come. Stick with it, you’ll get a chance.


Is UX /UI Design, primarily a PM responsibility or a required skill for a good PM ?

I don’t think it’s required, but it does help. I did UX\UI business analysis stuff for a year or two, and absolutely loved it, and feel it helped me bridge to a PM job. I don’t think you have to be a design expert to be a good PM, but it depends on your company and how strong your dev\design team is. Our team is quite strong, so I don’t spend a ton of time on design.


Do you think a role in the consumer goods industry can help or hinder an eventual transition into tech?

I don’t think it will hurt you. All of the experiences may not translate, but a huge key to a PM is understanding the reason buyers choose a particular product or service, and there can be tons of similarity regardless of it being consumer goods or technology.


Any final advice for aspiring product managers?

My last words of advice are to read as much as you can about business. I recommend books like Good to Great, The Lean Start-up, Blue Ocean Strategy, The Ultimate Question, etc. Spend as much time with your users as you possibly can, have empathy for them and it will benefit you. Stick with it, if you aren’t yet a PM, dig in, educate yourself, make as many friends as you can and make sure everyone knows that you want to be a PM and you’re willing to put in the work and help out to make it happen.


How Your Background Can Help You Launch a Product Career


Have any comments? Tweet us @ProductSchool

We teach product management courses in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, and New York. To learn more about our upcoming courses and how to apply click over to our course page.

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