You can't be a PM or business owner without a deep understanding of machine learning: establishing the business value and then rallying a team to deliver to that value without falling into the many unique pitfalls of ML programs. Here is a "cheat sheet" compilation of how to deliver machine learning products and programs, highlighting practical tips from someone who's been on the journey.
There's a vast difference between an average PM and an excellent PM. Yet if you google "what makes a great PM?", you only get a list of lowest-common-denominator qualities: organized, good communicator, reliable, blah, blah, blah.
Of course it's important to be organized and communicate well. But that's just the starting point. So what specific traits are we looking for to truly separate the top tier project managers from all the rest?
SaaS businesses are all the rage! Even companies that have success with traditional products are re-thinking their business as a SaaS offering, to reap the many benefits:
These benefits are so attractive that every and any product and business model is being re-imagined as SaaS, leading to some great ideas (e.g. Spotify, Coursera, bacon-of-the-month dropped off at your doorstep!). But not every business lends itself intuitively to a SaaS model. Especially if you have years of legacy technology and processes established with an existing customer base, the transition won't happen overnight. There are key questions to answer in each facet of the business.
Yes the PMP exam does have many "trick questions"! Here is my cheat sheet of tricks, gotchas and pitfalls collected about these questions. You have to be very careful about the wording and cut through the noise in the question to find what the really important answer is. This is meant to simulate project management in the real-world, where day-to-day you have to cut through the noise and make decisions based on what's truly important. There is also lots of terminology, acronyms and references to names of theories and principles that you need to know, and sometimes these terms are not even in the PMBOK itself.
A Program Manager is responsible for managing multiple interrelated streams of work and ensuring that - taken together - they produce specific business outcomes and benefits for an organization.
However the title "Program Manager" is not very common. Organizations have Project Managers, Product Managers, General Managers. But apart from some large organizations, "Program Manager" is rare. This is because often executives and middle managers play the role of Program Manager even if they don't have the title.
In many industries, sales is used to ‘selling’ the vision of the product in advance of it being built, and customers assume vapourware by default. No one bats an eye because we’re accustomed to the idea that engineering will always be able to fulfill whatever we’re selling, given enough time and money.
New technologies like machine learning and blockchain offer a world of possibilities, but many of these possibilities may not actually be able to be implemented in practice, even with a huge budget. It's easy to promise "The product will automatically predict X with high accuracy." where X could be anything from detecting a security breach to predicting stock prices to finding the perfect outfit for you wear. But even if the prototype is already 70% accurate, it may never get to 80%, or whatever you need it to be to be commercially viable.
As a PM, you’ve been asked to lead the prototype of a new product or feature in just a few weeks. Maybe you need to demo a new feature to win a customer. Maybe you are validating a concept or a new technology in-house. Or perhaps you need something visual to elicit feedback from partners. Either way, rapid prototyping is an essential tool in the new digital world for web, mobile and voice app development. Even though you only have a few weeks, it still needs to look amazing. How do you make it happen?