2017 in Review: ProductPlan’s Top 10 Blog Posts of the Year

Dana Solomon

Dana Solomon
Marketing at ProductPlan

This has been quite a year for the ProductPlan blog. We’ve published more than 100 articles on a variety of product management-related topics like roadmapping, product strategy, agile development, and more! As the year comes to close and the holidays approach—and many of us get stuck in airports—we thought we’d offer up a useful roundup of our ten most popular blog posts of the year.

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1. 10 Must-Read Books for Product Managers

This blog post is a great place to start. It compiles an excellent list of books we think are relevant to product managers. Not all of the books are laser-focused on product management itself, but many of them are full of insights all product folks could benefit from. The books cover topics like entrepreneurship, productivity, research methods, and even presentation skills!

Bonus: we recently published a follow-up list of books for product managers based on recommendations our readers left in the comments section of the original post. Check out both of these lists and start building out your reading schedule for 2018.

2. 5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Customers

As a product manager, you are your product’s primary spokesperson both to internal audiences and to the general public. What you say to customers and how you manage that relationship are as much a part of your product as its user interface. As the title suggests, this blog post lists five things you should never say to customers and explains why you should avoid each one.

3. What is the Product Manager Career Path?

This has been one of the most popular blog posts of the year. We regularly receive questions from product managers about all manner of career-related topics. In fact, we have an entire blog category dedicated to career-focused articles. We also recently published a free (140 page!) Career Guide for Product Managers to distill some of the insights we’ve collected over the years.

This specific article focuses on the different stops along the product manager career path, outlining each role—Associate Product Manager, Senior Product Manager, Director of Product, VP, CPO, and so on—and its goals and responsibilities. This article also offers some insight into how a product person might know it’s time to step up to the next level.

4. 3 Things All Product Managers Wish They Could Say Out Loud

Product managers are often characterized as having a lot of responsibility without much direct authority. You’re expected to work with other teams, answer to stakeholders, and interface with customers on a regular basis, all while reconciling your product’s usability with business goals and customer requests. It’s a great job, but it’s not always easy. This blog post is a fun one and imagines some of the things product managers wish they could say (but never actually would) to these different groups.

5. How Product Managers Can Better Tie Metrics to Product Strategy

Almost all product managers agree that metrics are critical to effectively managing a product. But there are a lot of metrics out there and not all product managers know which metrics to track, or why, or how to connect those metrics (and data points and charts and spreadsheets!) to their product and their broader strategy. This article outlines some tips for effectively tying specific metrics to your product strategy.

Rather than offering a glossary of acronyms from MRR to ARR to LTV to CAC, this post instead outlines a couple of different business goals and then suggests ways to link metrics and product strategy to those business goals. It’s a helpful reminder that product managers are tracking metrics to inform a strategy and ultimately accomplish a set of business goals.

6. Product Managers: Don’t Waste Your Time On These 6 Things

Product management consists of a lot of different activities: talking to and interviewing customers, planning and prioritizing product features, tracking metrics, presenting your roadmap to stakeholders, etc. There are a lot of interesting discussions to be had around how much time product managers should spend on each of those activities, but there are definitely some time-wasting activities product managers (and pretty much everyone) should avoid. This post describes six such activities and explains why they’re detrimental to your productivity and long-term effectiveness.

7. Why Your Minimum Viable Product Sucks

As a product manager, you’re under a lot of pressure from stakeholders, customers, and the market to develop excellent products that differentiate your organization, delight customers, and send profits through the roof. You’re also under pressure to do this quickly and under budget. Agile development and the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) have made this easier in some ways but also more risky. This blog post explains why your MVP might not be living up to your expectations. Read it to find out why there are many ways to interpret and misinterpret the notion of an MVP.

8. Product Manager Career Paths: 3 Myths Debunked

Whereas the third entry on this list outlines the product manager career path, starting with Associate Product Manager, this blog post is focused on how people arrive at the field of product management in general. We’ve received a lot of questions from smart individuals in engineering, marketing, user experience, data analysis, and other roles adjacent to product management that want to know how to break into the field. This post outlines three common misconceptions about how people become product managers and explains some of the broader personality and character traits that product leaders look for in job candidates.

9. Product Launch Checklists: From the Oscars to a Software Product Release, They’re Necessary

Launching a product involves managing several parallel timelines and product launch checklists help you ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. We suspect this article was popular because it offers a useful product launch checklist to help product managers prepare for the unexpected. Product launch checklists help you think through all of the processes, steps, and assets you and your team will need to prepare for and complete prior to your product launch. Use it as a starting point and adapt it to fit your own launch routine.

10. 10 Great Podcasts for Product Managers

Product managers are busy. But they also love to learn. Podcasts (and audiobooks) are entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking, and they let you keep your hands free! These podcasts represent a sample of what’s out there and cover topics ranging from entrepreneurship and marketing to sales, optimization, time management, and more. Some of them are product-focused, while others are full of insights from adjacent fields that product folks should still find quite useful. Some of them are just fun! Check out our list, download a couple sample episodes, and enjoy!

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We hope you enjoy the articles on this list and that you make your flight!


Did we miss one of your favorite posts? Leave us a comment and let us know!