Dear new product manager,
Hi! My name is Chloe and I have been a PM at Delfina for the past year and a half. It has been an amazing experience, rich with many valuable lessons. If you’re thinking of becoming a PM the way I did a few years ago, keep reading—here are the best tips that I’ve picked up along the way:
Each day, make it one of your goals to soak in as much information as possible. I like to keep tabs on all verticals of the company, including engineering, data science, sales, marketing, clinical, and operations. You don’t need to sit in every meeting, but having regular check-ins with your cross functional teams is crucial for overall product success.
Take any opportunity to learn from the life experiences of those around you. I feel lucky to work with such amazing people who not only are experts in their respective fields, but also have personal connections to our mission. Some have been providers in the pregnancy care space, some have been pregnant and are now parents – their life insights have been valuable in informing our product decisions.
In a startup, resources are limited. You can’t test every single product idea that you and your team think of, and your engineers only have so many hours in a day to write code. It’s time to think “scrappy” - how can you achieve qualitative and quantitative test results without relying too heavily on other teams?
We started testing our reminders feature by manually texting patients to remind them to use our pregnancy app. Our team decided to test various levels of personalization to the message, and we found that 23% of users responded to our generic reminder message and approximately 80% of our users responded when the message was signed off from one of our Delfina Guides. Overall engagement also increased with our manual texts, and these data points gave us the confidence we needed to build a Guide-centric reminder system that patients would enjoy using.
In the initial phases of product development at Delfina, not all of our features were entirely “scale-proof,” meaning that we had to adapt our product as we grew. You’re in a startup setting with limited resources, and need to get results relatively quickly – sometimes, this may result in shipping a feature that does not fare as well as you would hope once you take it to larger clinic sites.
You do not need to start with a product that fits every use case - but be sure to set yourself up for success as you build the foundational pieces. Ask yourself key questions: Can my product/feature be implemented across our various customer segments in the future? Will scaling this solution require a lot of technical debt? How can we build this feature to expand easily in the future while also achieving results in the short-term? It will save you, your designers, and engineers a lot of time in the future. Instead of working on fixing a solution that may not fit a use case anymore, prioritize creating a solution that will expand to many use cases as you grow and change as a company.
It varies from startup to startup, but you’ll likely be involved in several other verticals in addition to your traditional product manager role. Don’t shy away from this – it will only help you understand your product more and the complexities involved in its actual deployment.
I worked closely with Jess Barra, our amazing Director of Product Operations, oftentimes helping out in our product deployments and operations. I had the opportunity to visit our partner practices in Southern California - a visit that started off as purely operational tasks (checking the office inventory, training new office members on how to use our platform) but turned into a rich experience learning about the intricacies of deploying our solutions in a real setting, with real office staff, patients, and providers.
This is age-old product dogma. As a product-led company, we know that our product would be nothing without our users. Their needs, wants, and pain points should be the driving factors of your feature prioritizations.
Personally, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job is talking to our pregnant users and hearing all sorts of feedback from them - positive and constructive. Even if it’s just 15 minutes on the phone, getting to know them as a person (and more than just a data point for your compelling KPI report) makes all the difference in how I prioritize certain features to make sure our users are getting the best experience.
It is a privilege in and of itself that our users trust our products to support their pregnancy care, particularly since it can be an incredibly stressful and busy time for expecting patients. Building these levels of trust by putting the user voice first is a huge component of Delfina’s product philosophy.
As an early-career PM, building Delfina Care has given me an incredible opportunity to grow as a person and as a team member. I am exceedingly grateful for my mentors here, particularly our Chief Product Officer Priyanka, who believed in my ability to grow into a role on the product team.
Moving into the next phase of my career as a future MD, I am lucky to have these lessons to take with me. Above all else, being a product manager has instilled the practice of deeply empathizing with and understanding your users as a key to success - and I look forward to practicing the same empathy with my future patients.
I am very excited to see how technological innovation continues to expand and change pregnancy care and women’s health in the next ten years, and can't wait to contribute to this innovation not only as a product manager, but as a clinician.