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Journey in product as a Software Engineer

How I built and launched a reporting product for a SaaS company in 10 weeks

About me

A year into my career in Software Engineering, I developed a curiosity for Product Management. I was interested in understanding how it contributed to how my team worked and how it helped with our alignment with the company’s goals. Over the years, there were many resources that proved helpful, giving me a basic understanding of what Product Management entailed and what skills were important to succeed in this role. Toward the end of 2021, I decided that I wanted to learn even more about Product Management, enough to be able to successfully ship a product that will solve a problem for potential users. At this time, I was working full-time as a Software Engineer and so I needed a program that offered flexibility, a more practical approach and most importantly I wanted to be set up to succeed as a Product Manager.

In January 2022, I found out about PMDojo, a 10-week program created for professionals to help them hone skills that will enable them to be successful people in product roles, the focus of the program was to give participants the real-world experience they’d need to succeed while supporting them to build and launch a product during the duration of the program. There were 2 tracks available. I opted for the Industry track, this offered the opportunity to work with the product team of a company, and help solve a problem they’ve identified within the duration of the program.

I joined the PMDojo April 2022 Spring cohort, the onboarding was seamless and I was matched with four teammates, one of them was a Product Manager, and another worked in the Financial sector. We also had someone who had worked in Education, on the team and another from the Supply Chain sector. We also got to work with a mentor, who was a renowned Product Manager in a Software Company. Our team was unique as we all had different backgrounds and lived in different parts of the world.

The team was matched with a software company that re-imagines practice management for financial advisory firms by bringing easy-to-use workflows, better tracking, and seamless collaboration into a digital and efficient workspace. This is achieved by logging activities conducted or planned to be conducted on the company platform, an overview of this is displayed to these users on an intuitive dashboard, and users are then able to sync these records compliantly back into their integrated CRM. The company product team was looking to provide their users with on-demand access to their firm’s workload capacity to help them drive business efficiency.

During the first 4 weeks we worked with the product team of the company we were matched with, to validate our Problem statement, we were able to do this through user surveys and interviews. Results from our interaction with users helped us realize that we needed to make changes to our problem statement. As a team, we were open to seeing how our problem statement evolved, this turned out to be a learning opportunity for me, I learned to be open and adaptive to change.

During the next few weeks, we identified our user persona, identified what our solution would help them achieve and worked on Lightening demos to plan how our solution would solve our outlined problem.

From our Lightning Demos, we came up with our early concepts, these helped us build out features we believed needed to be in our initial prototype. I was then able to work on our initial prototype using Balsamiq, this was shared with users. During our user-testing, we found out that some features were validated as these were intuitive and gave insight into data metrics that were key to how the users use the company platform.

The features we validated were;

  • A reports filter gives the user the opportunity to choose from 2 report types they’ll like to see based on the team data available.

  • A date filter, allows users to select a time frame from which they’ll like to see the selected report type.

  • We found that we needed to add a CSV download feature to enable clients to have access to data they can perform analysis on, to drive decisions and possibly scale their businesses.

By week 6 we had created a working final prototype, this was built by a teammate and me. The team decided that this was ready for final tests. The team conducted user interviews, we had the users interact with our prototype while we observed them, they found it to be quite intuitive and seemed satisfied with how the data was displayed to them. It was a good experience observing a live interaction with the prototype, it helped the team observe user patterns and make unbiased decisions on what features to keep and what changes were necessary to implement.

We started work on building our product by week 7, we had our Software Developer join our team to help build out our Minimum Viable Product, MVP.

We created our Product Requirement Document, PRD. In this document, we prioritised the features we had selected for our prototype. We collaborated with our Developer using Agile sprints to build our product.

We needed to build out a landing page to inform users of the product and get interested users to sign up for beta testing of the MVP, we also needed to start building out our product, as well as perform more interviews with users as we built out the product. The team was split into groups to get this done. I worked with another teammate and the developer to build out our landing page, while the developer worked on the MVP. Other team members worked on interviewing users and working with the company product team for feedback.

The product landing page was then made available to users.

It’s week 9 and we have recently launched the Beta version of our MVP, we were able to do more user testing and we are currently implementing the feedback we got. This is what the Beta version of MVP looks like live product

We are currently working on the product and look forward to launching in the coming week. Look out for more information from me, on our product launch and how to be part of the demo.

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