3 New Years Resolutions for Product and Team Improvement



2014 has been a great year here for us here at Apptimize. We’ve roll outed several key features (analytics integration, dynamic variables, and funnel metrics to name a few) and acquired new flagship customers that support our mission of bringing fast, data-driven iteration to mobile development teams everywhere (Glassdoor, Vevo, Hotel Tonight, and Flipagram to name a few).

But we’ve also made mistakes in 2014. We’ve dropped tasks due to miscommunication, spent time making half-baked features that ended up being not useful, and wasted time with inefficient interviewing process… just to name a few.

From the successes and failures in 2014, we’ve created a list of new years resolutions to help us improve our product and team in the new year. After creating these as a team, we realized they are applicable to product managers everywhere so thought we would share them with you.

1. Listen to the customer frequently and through different channels

One of the best things we’ve done this year is trying out different forms of getting customer feedback. In January, we only did user tests (and probably not well for that matter). Over the course of the year, we’ve incorporated many different types of user interviews, customer surveys, online usability tools, sales debriefs, and non-customer interviews into our research portfolio. Each type of research method has shown us more chapters of the customer story which has helped us develop our products and measure our success.

We discovered new research methods not only by reading books and blogs but also by participating in studies whenever we could. What a great way to learn! Not only do we get to help other product managers and talk with them, it’s a great opportunity to learn from the work of others.

A goal for 2015 is to do even more customer research and more often.

2. Strictly efficient meetings

One of the biggest sources of miscommunication for us has been due to an inability to find the right balance between too few meetings and too many meetings. Well, the problem hasn’t been too many meetings so much as sometimes inefficient/unnecessary meetings.

Many members of the Apptimize team hail from large companies like Google and Microsoft, so we have wrongly assumed that fewer meetings are always better and/or that meetings are doomed to be inefficient—albeit necessary—evils.

But after several snafus due to not being on the same page and many meetings that felt like a waste of time, we decided as a team to get better at meetings. We each read Death by Meeting, Overcoming the Five Disfunctions of a Team, and countless blog posts about running better meetings. Since implementing our learn ints, our meetings have gotten dramatically more efficient, effective, and entertaining.

While we’ve learned these skills in theory, it’s still a work in progress. It takes constant, conscious effort to have open, honest debates without counterproductive conflict, making sure each meeting has a goal, and keeping every individual accountable for coming to meetings well-prepared for the discussion to be had.

3. Strategically hire the best people for our team

The word “best” in this context is not objective. There is a subjective element of fit that we completely underestimated at the start of 2014. We kind of took it for granted that fellow MIT alums we’ve known for a decade fit really well into our nerdy, ambitious, sometimes debate-loving team without much effort.

In 2015, we’re refocusing our efforts on streamlining our hiring process so that we can more systematically bring in top performers that fit with our company values.

HR is hard!

About Apptimize

Apptimize is an innovation engine that provides A/B testing and feature release management for native mobile, web, mobile web, hybrid mobile, OTT, and server. Industry leaders like HotelTonight, The Wall Street Journal, and Glassdoor have created amazing user experiences with Apptimize.

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