At the ripe age of 40 I now know that being a Product Manager suits me to a tee, having worked in many roles in the past (academic researcher, primary school teacher and in community development). I’m a stickler for doing the right thing, have an eye for detail, love developing supportive one-to-one working relationships, and love the geekery and psychology combination needed for creating technology to help people make a change for the better.
Here are five things I discovered along the way…
1. Be prepared for your product to work on you
When I first started at BetterPoints, I walked a bit, but relied on driving most journeys (even under a mile) and didn’t really think twice about the impact on my health, my car’s emissions or the local traffic. Fast forward to four years later and our family has gone down from two cars to one car, I have a Co-Wheels car club membership, I scoot five miles a day and am an avid gym goer. We are much healthier as a family as a result. If I hadn’t made those changes then staying at BetterPoints wouldn’t have been for me.
2. All feedback is good feedback
It’s easy to be prickled by someone telling you something negative about a product you’ve worked hard on creating. However, I do absolutely value people taking the time to tell me about how the app doesn’t work how they expect it to. Unprompted feedback is gold-dust to someone in my role. Our platform and app is doing something genuinely new so we are constantly learning about how we can make it better, and that’s what lean and agile development is all about. We can only hone the app to suit users if they give their feedback.
3. Be prepared to muck in
I keep using my product from as many angles as possible, both as internal and external users. We have a very complicated, extensive back-end to the BetterPoints platform that is incredibly powerful at rewarding people for very specific durations, frequencies, locations and so on. Making this easy to use for our implementation team so they can dangle the right carrots at the right time to the right people has been key - so I work very closely with Lobelia who is the team’s product implementation expert to make sure they can get the most out of the platform and use the latest features to the best effect. I set up my own testing programmes so I can see for myself whether there are frustrating or confusing elements for administrators or users. I also keep a close eye on our support messages so that I know what’s not clear for users - this helps me freshen up my perspective on the product.
4. Seek diversity
Thankfully at BetterPoints, we have a pretty diverse team - from a development manager that cycles up mountains to marathon runners to people who hated sport at school; we’re different ages, we live in different parts of the country, we have a lot of women for a tech-focused company and we’re all the better for it. Our empathy muscles are constantly flexed and needed to work together as a team. This especially helps me to hone the product so that we can appeal to as large a range of people as possible, and try not to alienate people.
5. Celebrate product successes as much as you learn from your near-misses
I love reading users’ stories that they have shared with us - from Krunal who’s cycling more to how Deborah has walked to help herself through depression to how Donna went on long walks with her son in local Salford parks Some people find that BetterPoints doesn’t motivate them - and that’s ok - as there are lots of people who find that it does incentivise them and it makes a real difference.
Anne is Product Manager at BetterPoints. To find out more about Anne and the rest of our fantastic team please see our Meet the Team page