PM Tools Should Help Us With The Hard Things We All Do

by nils  - October 2, 2014

What are some of the annoying, hard things you have to do as a product manager? Here are two common situation from my experience. I wish the PM tools out there would step up to helping me do these more easily.

I sometimes get features that are only partially implemented, with respect to the original story or requirement. If the tool automatically understood in its guts that a requirement can be partially implemented, and that it might need to be decomposed along those lines so the remaining parts of the feature could be implemented later, it would be a big help. Perhaps a wizard that guided me in decomposing the requirement. It could ask questions like ‘is this requirement 100% completed?” If I say “No,” then it asks “Is it partially completed, and if so, what part? What’s the value proposition of that part?” “Do you want to take any of the existing requirement and turn it into a new requirement for implementing later?” And so on.

Of course, I want the tool to maintain the relationships in the process. E.g., the new requirement should be related to the original, probably with an “Enhances” relationship. Or it might be a “Delighter” relationship. (Because what didn’t get done is usually the “nice to have” portions, not the “table stakes” portions.)

Another thing – I need to write a datasheet entry for the feature, or a release note. Why do I have to go to Word to do this? Why doesn’t the tool have a place for the datasheet blurb related to this feature? And then the ability to write a draft datasheet based on these entries for the features implemented in the upcoming release?

I have to do these things anyway, and often I just try to do them in my head, which means that the next thing that I have to pay attention causes this one to drop on the floor, which means I have to rediscover it later, at a great cognitive cost. Since I have to do it anyway, let’s have the tool become the capture spot for it – which means it needs the right semantics to capture it, and it probably needs to remind me that it needs to be captured, because after all, “I am a product manager, big of head, and I will remember.” Which I won’t, really.


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Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.

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