Dealing With Product Complexity

This week, Product School hosted Bala Kudaravalli, fmr Director of Product at Salesforce, for a special #AskMeAnything session. Bala answered questions regarding dealing with product complexity, PRDs, and how to transition to Product Management.

Meet Bala

Bala Kudaravalli, fmr Director of Product at Salesforce

Bala is a skilled collaborator, negotiator, and passionate Director of Product at Salesforce. Over the course of his career, Bala has built and led global cross-functional digital, data, product & operational teams.

Bala developed the expertise to bring together technical and executive leadership across cultures and organizations to deliver impactful business results. Some of his core competencies include Product Management Data Products Digital Experience Virtual Events and Marketing Technologies.

How do you deal with product complexity?

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There are different strategies to manage product complexity depending on where the product is in its lifecycle.

At a macro level start with the product goal typically for 12 – 18 months, break it down into smaller ideas that can be delivered within 2 quarters, and use a framework (such as ICE) to estimate the value and effort to decide what to build. Ultimately, you are looking at building features that add value with the least effort/cost.

What are the most important pieces of a PRD?

The most important aspect of a PRD is to clarify:

  1. Why we are building the product
  2. What problem are we trying to solve
  3. What will we NOT do in the product
  4. What is our approach to bringing the product to life.

Check out: Product Templates: Product Requirements Document (PRD)

How you have been able to leverage your product expertise when wearing the investor hat?

As a Product Manager, I am looking out for the value the product provides to a customer.

When looking at investments, I look at the team, focus on understanding the problem space the founders are trying to solve, and assess if the impact that the team and solution can have.

How do you decide when to customize solutions to incorporate customer feedback, or when to say no to a particular request?

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In a mature product, there are a lot of feedback and feature requests. The Product Manager is responsible to identify and create the shortlist of product features to build.

Opportunity assessment is critical here, some of the factors that play a role are:

  1. Will this feature be widely adopted?
  2. Does it fit with the product goals?
  3. Can we successfully execute?

Read next: Do’s & Don’ts of Interviewing Customers to Build Great Relationships

What is the role of branding in B2B?

I believe branding is very important in B2B. Building a strong brand gives prospective customers a willingness to try and potentially shortens the sales cycles

What three tips would you give someone transitioning from Marketing to Product Management?

My three tips would be:

  1. Leverage the GTM/Product positioning experience and learn how to formulate the product vision
  2. Learn how to take the product vision and create a strategy to build the product
  3. Dive in and get your hands dirty

You might also be interested in: Transitioning to Product Management From ANY Background

Any final tips?

There is no linear path to becoming a Product Manager. Every role and company is different. Be curious, empathize with your customers, and always be learning. Good luck everyone.

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