Getting Product Managers Up To Speed with New Software and Processes
By Brian Lawley
CEO & Founder of the 280 Group
For many of the functional groups in high-tech companies, new versions of software and the training they require is something that is built into their way of thinking and planning. When new development and testing tools come out, engineering and QA managers are used to integrating them into how they do their work. When new versions of SFA and CRM software are released, sales and customer service managers roll them out and make sure their staffs know how to use them. They have an integrated plan for new software that includes the necessary time for employees to learn the new tools and to get up to speed.
But for Product Managers, the concept of training and getting up to speed on new or existing tools isn’t a familiar one. Most Product Managers learn the software they use on a daily basis completely on their own. Whether it is Microsoft applications like Office, Visio or Project or other Enterprise applications used by their company, most of the time Product Managers are left to their own devices to learn how to use the tools that are critical for their day to day success.
For simple applications this has been the way of Product Management life. But as new applications become available that are more powerful and useful, it’s important to give your team of Product Management professionals the support they need. This is even more critical if the software is integrated into your existing or new product processes that span across different functional groups in your company.
Following are a few suggestions for how to be more effective if you are implementing new software and/or associated processes at your company:
- Make learning and using the core software tools and processes part of your quarterly MBOs, goals and objectives. Even better, make it a part of employee’s annual review goals so that they are clear that it is a critical part of their job they will be judged on. That way they’ll know that if they aren’t proficient in the applications that are critical to their job, or don’t follow the product processes, they won’t get rewarded.
- Give your staff dedicated time to learn the new software. Force them to go offsite to a place where they have to turn off their cell phones and can’t access email. Without this dedicated, non-interrupt-driven time, learning the software will be given little less than lip service.
- Make sure that when new employees are brought on board they understand what tools and processes they are expected to use, and give them the resources they need to be successful. Provide them with training materials and pair them up with others in your group that are proficient and can help them if they run into questions or problems.
- Get full buy in for the new processes and software and the training time required. Make sure that upper management as well as mid-level directors and product line managers understand how the new software fits into your product process, and that it is critical that your teams be proficient with it.
By using some or all of these suggestions above you’ll be sure to get the most of out of new software. And you’ll make sure your Product Management teams know what is expected of them so they can integrate new software and processes into their jobs quickly and easily.
About The Author
Brian Lawley is the CEO & Founder of the 280 Group (www.280group.com), which provides Product Management and Product Marketing Assessments, Consulting, Training, Certifications, Contractors, Templates and Books. He is also the author of five best-selling books: Expert Product Management, Optimal Product Process, The Phenomenal Product Manager, 42 Rules of Product Management and 42 Rules of Product Marketing.