All related (14)
Jacqueline Porter
Director, Product, GitLabDecember 2

Communicating as a product manager is probably 90% of the job. I would say you need to make sure you establish clear chains of communication, both internally and externally, especially as a pertains to product roadmap delivery updates. My favorite method of doing this is to create a safe, publicly available, published version that you can distribute internally and externally so that everybody’s on the same page regarding the major milestones that you’re hoping to accomplish. This can also be coordinated with marketing to help create marketing launch activities around it. As a product manager, I hope that you’re working iteratively working with engineering in a way that requires you to pivot and think about problems strategically. As a result, you may completely scrappy roadmap next quarter from what you originally published, but all you need to do is update to publish version and make sure you have a disclaimer that says these are not commitments, and they are subject to change.

As far as distributing this published version, I have had success distributing it on social media, newsletters to customers, or having just a subscription to the page so people get updates, whenever the pages are updated.

Zeeshan Qamruddin
Director of Product Management, Fintech, HubSpot | Formerly Segment, WeWork, AirbnbApril 12

At the company level, there are a few different methods of communications to keep everyone abreast of updates:

  1. Product Notification emails (Ad Hoc) - These emails have a set template and allow product teams from around the company to share updates to their areas in a digestable format as major features go out of the door. 
  2. Product Newsletter emails (Weekly) - The weekly newsletter summarized major product updates and initiatives to all product team members. 
  3. Quartery Business Review meetings (Quarterly) - These larger meetings gather key parts of the business to talk through major updates each quarter, including an opportunity for the C-Suite to interact with and pose questions to respective teams. 
  4. Quarterly Kick-off meetings (Quarterly) - These meetings are specific to our Product Area and include our stakeholders; each team in Fintech is able to share wins from the prior quarter and plans for the coming quarter. 
  5. Slack Updates (Ad Hoc) - For major releases, the PM will often post a message in our global product channels to notify the broader group of the change. This allows an opportunity for the team to be recognized, as well as others to be informed about the update. 
Ashka Vakil
Sr. Director, Product Management, MezmoDecember 13

What product management updates get shared with the rest of the company and how they get shared will vary based on the size of the company and the function of the company. The goal for communication, however, remains the same and that is to keep everyone aware of what is happening with the product and how it fits into the overall goals of the company. 

Here are a few activities that I think help drive better alignment and transparency across the organization.

  1. I am a big fan of maintaining and managing public roadmaps tied to OKRs in product management tools like Aha or productboard so that they are easily accessible by everyone in the company whenever they want. This drives transparency across the organization, especially GTM. 
  2. Conducting quarterly roadmap sessions that showcase what was delivered in the last quarter, what is underway, and what is planned for next quarter to make sure there is a common understanding across the organization
  3. Monthly newsletter or update via Slack, teams, or an equivalent asynchronous tool that highlights wins/losses and key metrics.
  4. Synchronous meetings with sub-teams focussed on large initiatives or key announcements/launches with a readout posted to key stakeholders and execs that need to be kept informed.
  5. Asynchronous updates to stakeholders in case of an escalation from a strategic customer or a critical outage
  6. Big launch announcements and shoutouts in Slack or teams as well as company/group all-hands meetings.
Janet Brunckhorst
Director of Product Management, Aurora SolarOctober 25

Great question, and it doesn't have a single answer. One thing that is important is having a consistent, accessible, forum/location for people to see:

  • What's been released;
  • What's coming up;
  • Metrics;
  • Issues/outages/major bugs.

The details of how you do this will depend on a few factors:

  • Size of your company
  • Whether you're distributed, in-person, or hybrid
  • The type of space/collaboration tools you use
  • The team culture

For example, a very small, in-person team might rely on a weekly Iteration Planning Meeting and some physical information radiators on the wall. A very large, distributed team might use a monthly all-hands for high-level updates and a formal product roadmap that everyone can access. 

As your company grows, you'll also want to collaborate with other teams on sharing updates. For example, Customer Support or QA teams may handle centralized communications about bugs and issues that affect customers, and Product Marketing may create a customer-facing product roadmap for got-to-market teams to use. 

Selecting the tools, forums and cadence that best support your team's needs, and then being prepared to change them as your team grows, is the most important thing.

Rupali Jain
Chief Product Officer, February 27

There are different types of updates that need to be communicated to the rest of the company and how those get communicated is different

  • Vision/Roadmap: At least annually, live at the annual kickoff to the company.  A recording should be available at all times, as well as part of the sales enablement and onboarding materials.  A vision is high level and helps internal teams get excited about our direction and share that excitement with prospects and customers
  • Major launches: Major launches typically are for a new product launch or new category of capabilities.  These involve the most work to communicate across the company and to customers including press releases, blog posts,  analyst updates, demos at conferences, webinars, internal enablement, customer references and more.
  • Minor launches / Features: These should be grouped into coherent themes or focus areas to ensure the value of each feature is amplified.  A mistake that a lot of product teams make is to trickle out each feature individually without articulating a larger value proposition, which makes it difficult for the rest of the company, especially customer facing teams, to see the forest from the trees.  The onus is on the PM + PMM to articulate the value in a way that everyone in the company understands and can convey to customers and prospects.  These may not include all the activities listed for major launches but a subset
  • Customer asks: In B2B companies, this is an important aspect of what customer facing teams look for from the PM.  The number of these tend to grow non linearly with the size of the PM team, and hence hard to stay on top of.  A good way is to set expectations for what set of these will get updated and at what frequency (e.g. top 50 updated every month etc..).  And it's also important to avoid focusing only on a small handful of the largest customers, but balance with the needs common across a larger base of customers.