Tips and Tricks for Product R&D by Pluralsight Product Manager

Being a Product Manager is rather challenging and demanding. As a PM, it is important to be equipped with excellent Product R&D know-how to fully execute the role. In this session, Keisha prepares us with the tips and tools to handle the process of Product Development with proficient organization and supervision.

Keisha Johnson

Developing her career as a Business Analyst, Keisha Johnson pursued a couple of roles before accidentally, but fortunately, ending up as a Product Manager. She is a voracious competitor, a passionate & empathetic PM, who is currently working with Pluralsight.

Keisha Johnson

Tips and Tricks for Product R&D

To begin the R&D process for Product development, it is important to breakdown the process into structural and functional processes that cumulatively lead to the end goal of Product Development.

Keisha Johnson, explains in detail the roadmap to successful R&D of Product Development.

Discovery & Research

This is the first step in R&D, where the predominant information for product development is collected. Keisha provides us with steps to simplify and maximise this process:

  1. Don’t fall into the trap of only user research
  2. Build directed and well prepared user personas and interview scripts
  3. Become an expert on the problem by doing both primary and secondary research

Structuring the user interview scripts

This is a crucial step before interviewing the users. Keisha emphasizes the need for having objectives for interviews. 

Keeping objectives clarifies the intent of the interview and guarantees the information availability post-interview.

One can easily structure the interview questions using say, simple Google sheets. For this, formulate 3-5 objectives for an interview with 2-3 questions for each objective as shown in the image below:

Graph discovery & research

This step ensures the sessions to be eventful and engaging.

Cross team synthesis and co-design

Keisha expresses the importance of involving the whole team in the process of information synthesis. This keeps the whole team on the same page and helps in bringing myriad perspectives during the design process.

team meeting

Decision Making

Once the discovery process is through, it is important to prioritize and make decisions. This process can be assisted with two different models:

1. RICE Model

This is a mathematical model for measuring the trade-offs across reach, impact, confidence, effort for a feature/product.

2. Card Sorting

  • Let your customer define what you solve next.
  • Tools available for this model are: Optimal Workshop, Trello.
Professional on macbook


PMs are not expected to be involved in the coding and designing process technically. However, below points can be considered:

Design/Dev pairing 

When a PM is unsure of a feature’s development for a product, but is sure of its importance, he/she may pair up with a developer to analyze and implement the feature. This reduces the wasteful effort of pondering over the feature for hours.

Keisha highlights that it is always handy and rewarding to have some design & development skills for a PM.

Cool Tools

  • by IDEO – provides methods for discovery, ideation, and implementation 
  • Realtime Board  – this basically helps in Virtual whiteboarding, where in the case of remote discussions, strategies can be noted and drawn.
  • Silverback or Soapbox – screen recording for usability testing. It helps record both the interviewer & and the screen like the coordination & discrepancies of the interviewer’s facial expressions and the screen explanation.
  • Post-it notes & a sharpie – this basically helps in everything. It can be typically used in Synthesis sessions and affinity mapping.

If you liked this talk, you can find many more like it on our YouTube channel. Have you got some insight on effective R&D? Join in the conversation on our global Slack community for Product Managers.

Slack community Product School

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