What does it take to be an efficient Product Manager?

Company May 15, 2020

In this edition of Jampper Stories, Francis Lachica Guini, shares his experience as Senior Product Manager (PM) at Jampp. Over the last six years, his role evolved from managing complex campaigns to developing brand new products from scratch, always fueling his passion for learning new things. In the marketing team, we’ve gotten to work with Francis often, and we’re eager to share his story. Read on to learn more about the role of vision, communication and collaboration in product development 👀.

You joined Jampp in the company’s early days, and since then have been involved in some of our biggest projects, what was the first big product project you took on? What was it like?

When I joined Jampp in early 2014, the mobile app marketing industry was in its embryonic stage. At the time, the name of the game for advertisers was to drive big volumes of installers to their apps at the lowest costs possible; post-install activity was not much more than an afterthought and the challenges of user engagement were yet to become relevant problems to tackle.

Foreseeing where the industry was headed, Jampp had developed the first iteration of its app retargeting product ahead of demand, and by late 2014, I was given the objective of making the new product a sustainable revenue stream for us. This got me involved in product testing with beta clients and specifying technical requirements. I was also laying the groundwork for Jampp's retargeting strategy and training the rest of the team to leverage the product. What started as a team of two gradually became a multidisciplinary squad that achieved the sustainability of our app retargeting business 💪.

Francis meeting with Rocio from the Ops Team. 

Can you tell us a little about the product project you enjoyed the most?

Building products from the ground up can be daunting at first, but it can also be a source of great enjoyment once you start seeing all the different pieces come together and into fruition. Such was the case of the latest project I have been involved in: developing a marketing API that enables strategic partners to set up Jampp campaigns on their own platforms.

The project needed end-to-end product management: from defining the requirements together with the technical team and delineating the terms of service with legal, to beta testing with the early adopter and rolling out the go-to-market with marketing. Ensuring each area makes the right contribution towards the common goal is among the more satisfying parts of the job.

2019 - Celebrating goals achieved

Do you see product development as a linear process? How do you work with other teams for each project?

Good product development happens collaboratively rather than sequentially, especially in the context of such a dynamic industry like mobile ad marketing where technical innovation is accelerating.

Around a strong product team exists a system of disciplines that contributes to good product development. These are different areas of expertise (Tech, Marketing, Sales, Ops, Data, Finance, Legal) that solve specific product needs: Do we have the necessary infrastructure? Can it scale? Are there any dependencies? Is it compatible with the product design vision? How do we price it? How will we market it? How will we measure its impact? 🤔

“One of my fundamental responsibilities as Product Manager is to continuously align with each of these areas and ensure all product needs are tackled without derailing from the overarching problem to solve.

In addition, I remain aware of what other PMs are doing to find possible synergies and avoid potential missteps. Here, clear communication is paramount.

Francis clearly communicating in one of our All- Hands presentations 

What challenges do you face in this role?

We work in a very dynamic space where insightful data from 6 months ago may no longer be relevant today. In order to make informed product decisions, we need to stay up to date with our clients’ needs, the business, and the industry. We do this by continuously conducting and reading customer feedback (qualitative and quantitative data), market research (industry trends), and data insights (A/B tests).

Through the course of product development we are confronted with various challenges as well.

  • During product planning, we must be able to cut through the noise and recognize the features that should be prioritized.
  • For product execution, ensure that the solution developed does not deviate from the problem it was originally designed to solve.
  • To enable the go-to-market plan, we have to communicate the feature's value propositions to the marketing team.
  • Once the feature is rolled out, measure its impact and adoption rate to calculate its degree of success and whether additional efforts are required.
Tech and product working overtime for a huuuuge project 👀‌‌

How do you work around those challenges?

A clear and consistent vision of the future trickles down to our product strategy and helps us decide and defend the product features we plan for the quarter and beyond.

For example: Do we want to give the user complete control and develop an API with plenty of parameters to configure, or do we want to streamline the user interface with a simple yet smart setup?

A clear product vision unlocks our strategy and helps determine whether the feature should be prioritized or not. That said, we are not off the hook by just building new features, these must achieve business results.

“We tackle each challenge we face during product development by making sure the solution accomplishes our business objective and it is measurable. Measuring the results in turn gives us the necessary feedback to work out our next steps.”

What does it take to be an efficient Product Manager?

In addition to having a clear product vision and business goal, a Product Manager has to be a team player to be efficient in any sort of way. The PM must articulate his/her purpose, be very open about sharing knowledge about the problem, and involve the team in the customer pains that he/she is trying to solve.

“An efficient PM manages to inspire the team to rally around a business objective and discuss the best possible solution.”

Many of the best product ideas do not come from PMs, but from engineers who in addition to their base skills also have a great understanding of the business problems to solve. A great PM communicates the problem well, enables the team and trusts them in their execution, making the team look stellar 🌟.

2019 - Cortez Squad where Francis was involved in the whole project’s life cycle‌‌.

What made Jampp and this role the right fit for you?

All in all, Jampp's most important contribution to my professional development was the opportunity to work in a highly dynamic startup environment in technology. It demands you to roll up your sleeves, develop an inquisitive mindset and figure things out in order to stay afloat. This explosive cocktail of mobility and responsibility quickly hooked me to the job.

My academic background in International Relations has little in common with mobile advertising, but it gave me an outlook in a diverse range of subjects like economics, politics and law rather than developing a specific skill set. This multidisciplinary approach also describes my career at Jampp: I've had hands-on experience in account management, reporting, support, SQL querying, wire-framing, UX research, beta testing, contract negotiation, product marketing, sales decks, guidelines, and FAQs 🤹. It made me a jack of all trades, but not necessarily a master of any, an essential quality to have as a PM.

2019 - Training workshop for Jampp interviewer certification last year.

Any advice for people looking to become a PM in ad tech ?

“My advice for anyone interested in Product Management is that first and foremost you need to fall in love with the problem and not with the solution. The Product Manager's goal is not to implement features but to obtain business results.”

I think it's easy to lose sight of that and end up developing features that amount to nothing. For that matter, it's essential to identify precise KPIs and constantly measure the degree to which your initiatives are solving the problem. In doing so, you'll unlock invaluable insights that will help you iterate and achieve problem-solving products.

This is Francis receiving the “We Love what we Do” Jampper Award in 2016

There's a lot of advice going around on how to make the most of the quarantine, what are you doing this quarantine to stay sane?

It will be different for each person. My advice is to not feel obliged to making the most of the lockdown. Just because you get to stay at home and don't commute for work doesn't mean that you actually get a lot of extra time for productivity. Take care of your mental health, these are peculiar times. As for myself, I've been illustrating, designing a magnificent island on Animal Crossing, and enjoying the first months of living together with my girlfriend ❤️!

Wrapping up…

Random fact about yourself:
I illustrate thousands of dots for fun. Pointillism is a very slow technique, with some illustrations taking hundreds of thousands of dots to complete, but I find it to be soothing and somewhat therapeutic 🧘. It does require patience and perseverance though, but as long as I have a clear view of where I'm headed and what I want to achieve in my illustration, I will dot away, one dot at a time till I get there.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Br09JQjBZT4/


What’s the first thing you’ll do when things go “back to normal”?
Plan a road trip to Patagonia.

Favorite Jampp t-shirt or item of Jampp swag?
The Jampp backpack.

Francis at Jampp Camp 2017‌‌

If you weren’t working at Jampp what would you be doing?

Run a coffee & matcha specialty store.

About Jampper Stories

We believe our team is our greatest asset and we are always excited to share stories from the awesome people that make up Jampp. If you want to learn more about our day to day, follow us on Instagram at @gojampp or visit jampp.com/careers.html to find the right opportunity and see for yourself 😉.