The Product Manager's Toolkit close

Mel Thompson
17th November 2014
The Product Manager's Toolkit

With so many different online management tools available on the market at the moment, it can become quite overwhelming to know which ones are going to be most useful.To help you make some decisions on which tools to use for managing your own digital products I have outlined a few that I use on a daily basis that allow me to stay organised.

Communication

Hipchat - https://www.hipchat.com/

A large part of any Product/Project Managers day is spent communicating with their team. Depending on the company or project you may need to talk to people on the other side of the world as well as on the other side of the office. This is where Hipchat comes in. A sleek instant messaging service that integrates with Github, Mailchimp, Heroku, Zendesk and many more.

Why do I love it?

  • I can drag and drop images into conversations quickly to share with the wider team
  • All photos and links shared in the conversation are saved in their own panels on the right hand side of the conversation so that I can find them quickly again in the future
  • I can chase people on tasks in the conversation by adding a @ before their name and Hipchat will do the chasing via email for me :)
  • Integration with Github allows me to see when updates are pushed by the team to the product therefore, allowing me to keep on track with releases

Roadmapping

Aha!- https://www.aha.io/

With every product comes a vision, to achieve this vision and reach the ultimate goal you need a roadmap. With Aha! you can create and outline your roadmap into quarterly chunks to share with your team. Within each of these quarterly goals a list of features can be added, assigned to a person and given a deadline.

Within the strategy module of the product you can outline the vision, goals and initiatives for your product to be stored against the roadmap. This can be shared with those involved in the project to ensure everyone understands the final vision.

Why do I love it?

It helps everyone to get to grips with the vision for the final product and stay in the loop in regards to what the future plans and priorities for the product are.

Task board

Trello - https://trello.com/

Trello is an online task board tool that allows you to drag and drop tasks into different phases in the project process so that everyone involved in the project can stay up to date. Setting up a board in Trello is similar to setting up a whiteboard task list in the office; simply name the columns and write out the tasks associated with them. Each task can then be assigned to individuals who have been invited to the board who can then take responsibility for each task and drag and drop it to different phases of the project when updated.

Why do I love it?

  • The design of the tool is easy to use and anyone can pick it up
  • I can drag and drop images into cards to illustrate examples to the team quickly
  • I can assign labels to each of the tasks to highlight their priority so that the team know which ones to work through first

Scheduling

Schedule App - http://www.scheduleapp.com/

This is a product that we built at Codegent and that we use internally every day. Product/Project managers are often managing many different people at the same time and so Schedule App enables you to see how all of the projects map out in one easy calendar view. This allows you to ensure that the projects, design and builds don't conflict with one another. A simple dropdown allows you to schedule your team in halfday segments to select the project that you need that particular person to work on for that morning or afternoon. This can be planned each day or weeks in advance, depending on preference. Gentle weekly and daily reminders ensure that everyone is kept up to date on what they are suppose to be working on for that day or week.

Why do I love it?

As many of you will know, project deadlines and priorities can move around lot, schedule app allows you to reflect this in your planning and is a great tool to assist you while creating timelines as you can see everything that is coming up and when there is a gap available for you to kick off with new work.

Which tools do you find most effective for Product Management?