Why Being a Great Product Manager Requires Pristine Documentation?

Avatar of Author
Tal F.
on November 05, 2021 · · filed under Product Management Technical Writing Product Documentation Tutorials Internal Documentation

The most valuable talent that product managers may possess in order to bring their product concept to life is the ability to write effectively.

Why Documentation Is Important?

To begin, why is proper documentation critical for a digital product development project?

The two primary explanations are as follows:

1. It serves as a repository for all significant choices.

When working on a complicated, long-term project, critical choices regarding priorities, features and strategic goals are made every day.

As time passes and the product development project progresses, it's easy to lose track of when and why critical choices were taken. It is critical to keep a detailed record of this so that you can quickly respond to inquiries and explain why certain choices were taken.

This is important to ensure that you achieve what you set out to build, more precisely that you met the project's criteria from the outset. Additionally, it is crucial for accountability monitoring.

2. It aids in the retention of product information.

Frequently, you'll have many teams working on a project, with little or no interaction between them, and in some cases, personnel turnover is fairly prevalent, and although an effective handover is critical, details are sometimes missed. Thus, documentation serves as a tangible record of all the information gained over the course of the project, both to ensure that nothing is lost and to facilitate the transfer of that knowledge.

And this is before we even consider the transmission of information to support teams and end-users after the product is out; which is another important role of effective documentation.

For these reasons, we need documentation in order to help support teams and maintain a good connection and collaboration between teams and departments so that the product can be released with everyone's assistance.

How to bring a product concept to life?

To be a successful product manager, you must possess technical expertise, an in-depth understanding of your customers, and sufficient creativity and discipline to bring a fresh product concept to life.

However, the most valuable talent a product manager can learn is not related to programming or design; it is the ability to write effectively.

As a product manager, the primary constraint on your performance is your ability to communicate effectively with the rest of your team.

Your role is not to put out fires, control every facet of the creation of your product, or organize stand-up meetings. As Ethan Hollinshead, the Senior Product Manager at Strava put it The biggest product management challenge is resource alignment. Team sizes are always changing and frequently lopsided. Some weeks you have plenty of design bandwidth and no iOS, others you have no design and all iOS. Having a deep backlog of well prioritized projects is key to operating an efficient team.” Since teams are always changing, having a well structured documentation process and placement is essential to keep everything running well and effectively.

Writing effective documentation is crucial in every major product area that a product manager is responsible for:

The process of writing out the "why" behind a project compels product managers to make difficult choices early on and provides the rest of the team with a clear North Star to focus their efforts on.

Planning: By breaking that vision down into concise, well-articulated stories, objectives, and sprints, projects become more manageable and remain aligned with client demands.

Execution: Product managers s that are adept at communicating in written form with designers, engineers, and others are the best at removing bottlenecks, resolving conflicts, and shepherding their ideas to fruition.

In general, the more effective you are at communicating your thoughts verbally as a product manager, the more accessible your thinking will be to others. This means spending less time and energy correcting or explaining yourself and more time focusing on important challenges.

Product requirement documentation equates to a more comprehensive product vision.

One of the most important documentation that product managers have to develop is called PRD (product requirement documentation). When beginning a new project, a good product manager considers every element of the product and its surroundings. They ascertain the types of clients who would want the company's offering and why. They ascertain what other firms in an area are doing and how they may improve their performance. When they are uncertain about anything, they seek information and evaluate their hypotheses and preconceptions against that knowledge.

Great product managers utilize the information above to convey a narrative about the client and their demands, galvanizing the whole product team to work toward a common objective.

A PRD's critical elements include the following:

  • Objective: The objective part of a PRD describes the client issue you are attempting to solve and how it connects to your organization's vision, objectives, and ambitions. This outlines the overarching objective for what you're attempting to achieve and the intended audience for your product.

  • Release: The issue at hand Outline what will be provided and when in the released portion of the PRD. This enables internal teams to organize their work by understanding the scope and timeframe of the release. Keep track of critical milestones and dependencies to ensure that everyone stays on track.

  • Features: The next stage is to specify each feature (or user storey) included in the release. This portion of the PRD is where you describe precisely what needs to be created and how the development team should go about doing it.

  • User flow and design: Include visual wireframes and mockups in your PRD to show what the feature will look like and where it fits on the overall sitemap or page. This helps the development team understand exactly what you are envisioning and how the functionality should be implemented.

  • Analytics: It is critical to determine how you will evaluate the performance of your features upfront. Create a hypothesis about the influence that you believe a feature will have in order to determine if it delivers the intended outcomes.

  • Future work: It may be beneficial to add high-level information about your product's future roadmap plans in the PRD. Include any pertinent facts that assist the team in comprehending how the product could change through time.

User stories with a context ensure that client requirement is satisfied.

Bringing a product to life requires more than creating a strategy and then churning out features. As a product manager, your most valuable task is determining precisely what each feature needs to do for your client and then condensing it into the most concise form possible for your team.

While it may take longer to develop an impenetrable user narrative that puts your delivery team up for success—one that almost eliminates the possibility of their building the incorrect thing—you save considerably more time during the execution phase. Product managers that cut corners on this will save time in the near term but will pay the price afterwards.

The issue is that when you only state what your feature does it ignores the context of the consumer.

When you merely ask your delivery team to provide a list of features, you will always encounter discrepancies between your vision and their vision.

Prioritizing well-designed and written product documentation is essential for completing the onboarding process of your users so that they can know how to use your product most effectively. However, it should also include user stories to state examples of how to use your product and to what capacity as a real l life example based on user research.

Written communication holds individuals responsible and keeps initiatives going forward.

A poor product manager hoards information and must spend time justifying their actions to their staff. This kills product momentum—individuals spend their time conversing with the product manager rather than getting work done, and the product manager spends their time putting out fires rather than focusing on the important job.

A crucial component of any successful product managers work is ensuring that all members of their team have continual, unrestricted access to a wealth of information about the product they're building which include: FAQs, marketing material, style guidelines, customer interviews, market research, and presentations, to name a few. When your engineers, designers, and marketers all have clear deadlines and comprehensive access to the data and information necessary to fulfill their duties, your projects may go considerably more quickly.

When a product manager is fanatical about internal documentation and regularly updates it, he or she also holds the whole team responsible.

The product manager reports to the vice president or chief executive officer since their vision for the product and their opinions about how it should be performed are documented in public.

The engineering, design, and other team leaders are responsible since their team's contribution to the project is similarly defined in the vision. Everyone is aware of the criteria they and others are required to fulfill, which increases team understanding and keeps everyone on track.

Finally, as projects advance, new knowledge necessitates plan revisions. Whether it's a result of market research, customer interviews, or changing company objectives, being able to demonstrate the rationale for any PRD adjustments helps ensure that the team knows the "why" behind these changes.

A successful product manager's job is as much about updating the PRD as it is about generating it. As teams pose new questions, rivals adjust their strategies, and technological impediments arise, you must account for them in the PRD and guarantee that the "living document" does not fall behind reality. When a PRD falls behind schedule, team members cease to see it as authoritative and are less inclined to consult it the next time they have an issue.

Writing documentation is the secret sauce of your product team.

While all teams confront the issue of information management, product teams have a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing their collective knowledge of their mission.

Cohesiveness is critical to the survival of products. It is not about assembling widgets; it is about managing the delivery of a unified customer experience by several distinct divisions.

Writing in the extended form holds you accountable. It forces you to confront logical contradictions early and may reveal flaws that you were unaware of when just pondering things over in your thoughts. Additionally, it assists you in thinking coherently about who your consumer is and what they genuinely need from your product, rather than just compiling a list of things you believe should be included.

Writing down your goals and thoughts—and being thorough about what you say and how you say it—is the most effective lever you have as a product manager for ensuring that your product offers a coherent experience when it is complete.

Docsie provides all the documentation creation tools and features needed for every product manager to succeed. Try Docsie free to see how we can help with your documentation needs.

Next Post >

Subscribe to the newsletter

Stay up to date with our latest news and products