Managing New vs Established Products

This week, Product School hosted Rohan Katyal, Product Leader at Facebook, for an exclusive #AskMeAnything session. Rohan answered questions on managing new vs established products, metrics, and measuring hard-to-measure things.

Meet Rohan

Rohan Katyal, Product Leader at Facebook

Rohan Katyal is a PM at Facebook driving growth for WhatsApp business messaging, where he has grown Click to WhatsApp ads to > 1M monthly advertisers. He’s particularly interested in growth, marketplaces, experimentation, and PM interviewing/coaching.

Formerly, he was a PM at Yelp where he grew “Request-A-Quote” by 25%, leading to > $500M in services revenue, and built the experimentation program. Before Yelp, he was a part of the new products team at Yahoo!. He also co-founded and spearheaded a 16 people non-profit called FindAWay focused on equitable access to education. He’s a proud Georgia Tech and IIITD alum.

What are the biggest things to consider when developing a long-term roadmap for a new product?

  1. Internal alignment
  2. Strategy fit with user
  3. Changes in competitor landscape

Check out: How to Create Your Product Roadmap in 2021 (5 Templates Included)

What are the differences between building a new product initiative vs optimizing and growing an existing product/segment?

Very different playbooks.

For 0 —> 1 initiatives, focus is on establishing product-market fit. You should be moving fast to validate, iterate and drop. However, for established products, your focus is on driving longer-term growth. I enjoy both. 

Working on 0 —> 1 product teaches out fast-paced execution, and in my experience requires less stakeholder and cross-functional management. Working on more established products required a ton of stakeholder management and cross-functional alignment. Given the phase of the product, more people have opinions.

Read next: Emerging Markets: A Guide for Product Managers

It is very difficult to get calls for PM roles. Do you have any resources or tips for aspiring PMs?

I hear you. Breaking into Product is hard. It took me a while to get my first PM interview. I got an internship as a software engineer. My manager introduced me to PM leads in the company. I shadowed them and worked on side projects before transferring to full-time PM. After that, it became slightly easier to get PM interviews. Hang in there. You will have your own success story 🙂 Practical tips:

  1. Try to find an APM program
  2. If that doesn’t work out, get into a company which has an APM program in a different role, and work your way into it

What is the biggest adjustment you had to make working in Product at Facebook vs Yelp/Yahoo?

The size of the company and the scale of impact at Facebook are massive.

Size: To move fast in a company of Facebook’s size (58,604 employees as of 8/21!), PMs democratize information by strong company-wide communication. PMs share written updates with relevant stakeholders bi-weekly and host product reviews with leads at a regular cadence (6 weeks for me).

Reviews are the team’s opportunity to ensure leads are aware of the team’s progress and raise blockers for them. I create a master deck for key workstreams with context and the most recent status.

The scale of impact: Most products you work on touch millions, if not billions. Tools like WA are used by people to communicate during times of crisis and businesses to operate in so many countries. There is a heightened sense of responsibility because of the radius of impact.

What do you think should be done when working on an area in a product where it is difficult to prove ROI, like improving customer service?

The response depends on the context. Most things are measurable in some way. For customer services, you can measure metrics such as time to resolution, number of closed tickets and customer sentiment survey.

You might also be interested in: These Are the Metrics Great Product Managers Track

What are the metrics you have for WhatsApp business messaging?

For business messaging, we look at several metrics that define the health of the overall ecosystem such as the number of advertisers, messages being sent, and the number of businesses using the product. I am intentionally being abstract because I can’t talk about all of the metrics. Zuck has talked about Click to WA ads in several investor relations calls.

For a technical position such as yours, what’s your deliverable for the engineers? What does your Product Requirement look like?

I published a note on what PMs actually do, where I talk about the difference between junior and senior PMs, and the difference in the impact that both create.

You should read this post on execution at Facebook as well.

Any final advice?

The nature of the job is such that it’s hard to break into it. But don’t give up. PM your career, experiment and iterate till you win.

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