Happy New Year to everyone! As we stand together at the start of another business year, it’s important to realize that this time of year provides a product manager with a unique once-a-year opportunity to use this time of the business cycle to accomplish a few things that you just can’t get done at any other time of the year.
I’m not exactly sure why this is such a special time of year, outside of the fact that we’re coming out of the holidays. Considering how much of a product manager’s job revolves around contacting and communicating with people, this time of year just seems to make this task that much easier.
Here’s my list of what a product manager needs to do at the start of the year:
- Plan For Success: Forget New Year’s resolutions, I’m talking about Product Manager plans. Take a few moments and picture the end of the year – what do you want to have accomplished by the end of the year? Keep it real – no, your product is probably not going to become the next iPhone, but if you want to still have your job it is going to have to have some level of success. This plan can be a simple as a list of 5-10 items that you jot down. Paste it on the wall and you’ll be reminded of your yearly goals all year long.
- Reconnect With Old (Business) Friends: The madness of the end of the year is now over and everyone is in the process of trying to get their acts back together. This is a great time to reach out to everyone and connect with them in order to rekindle the relationship and get yourself in good standing for when you really need to talk to them later in the year.
- Hoard Resources: The neat thing about the start of the year is that nobody has a clear plan for what they want to do yet. This means that if you show up and ask for “things” – people, funding, office furniture, etc. you have a better than average chance of getting what you want. What’s that phrase, “The early bird gets the worm…”
- Visit Customers: Just like everyone else, your customers are going to get more and more busy as the year starts to pick up steam. If you want to have a chat with your customers about their needs and wants this can be the best time of year to have that discussion.
- Pick Your Product’s Next Features: We’ve talked about Job Mapping as a great way to find out what features your customers would like you to add next to your product. No matter how you go about doing it, the start of the year is THE time to plan out what features you are going to add and in what order you are going to add them.
- Plan Your Next Product: As product managers, we can easily become too comfortable with the products that we know and love. The truth is that all products have a life cycle and will eventually end up going away. We need to take the time to plan for what products will come next. The start of the year is a great time to do this type of activity.
Once again, the first few weeks of each year are a special time that, just like Christmas, comes only once a year. Make sure that you use this time to ensure that the rest of the year is merry for all of your products!
What do you do during the first part of the year to get ready for the rest of the year? Do you find that it’s easier to get in touch with people during this time? Have you ever asked for more resources at the start of the year? Was your request successful? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.