With the quarter almost over, sharing my personal checklist for wrapping up a quarter as a Product Manager. Although not mandatory or officially set by anyone, this is one of those things that I wish someone talked to me about and helped me refine when I just joined Facebook. A lot of it can be relevant to any company, but each will have slightly different emphasis according to company and team culture and ways of working.
I follow this checklist every quarter. If that’s also a quarter where we do heavy planning process, that will be added on top.
#1 — Internal | Product Team Items
“Product Team” includes all the cross functional (XFN) partners (i.e. designers, researchers, data scientist, etc..) and the engineering team.
I can’t stress enough how much “team health” is incredibly important at our company, and is part of PM’s expectations. That includes things like — aligning the team, getting buy-in, ensuring the team functions well, etc..
These items are meant to address that, and ensure we’re always learning and improving as a team.
- ✅ Partners expectation alignment : During the quarter, I hold 1:1 conversation with my XFN partners and/or their managers, about what is expected from each of us to deliver and demonstrate. I really love the idea of supporting my XFN partners success, so I have explicit conversation about that, which I follow with making sure there are enough opportunities planned in the quarter and that we know how can we support each other in fulfilling those. As we wrap up the quarter I make sure I have those expectations for each partner and that the opportunities are considered clearly in the product plan.
- ✅ Team retrospective — involving all product team members, to learn from what did and didn’t go well for us this quarter, and build more empathy, with visibility and open conversation. | Often, for us — UXR (user researcher) led.
- ✅ Strategy sync session — often the strategy doesn’t massively change when we’re off planning season. However, it’s important for the team to always be aligned on the strategy, with the emphasis of connecting the different pieces team members has been working on this Q to one narrative. I found it to be a very important to platform for the team to raise great questions, build excitement about the vision and more empathy and awareness on what are the prioritise for different team members and why. | Normally, PM led.
- ✅ Goals check in session — that could be a sync on where are we in terms of the goals we set, if we want or need to update any of the goals or the strategy. It helps give the team a tangible sense that we’re on the right track, or not, and that will give a heads up and a strong reasoning if we change direction. | Ideally, DS (Data Scientist) led.
- ✅ “Understand” insights summary — our “Understand Crew” (mostly UXR, DS, PMM (product marketing manager)) share their “Understand” insights throughout the quarter. This is just an opportunity to wrap together the summary of the insights which give context and help shape our next steps for the upcoming quarter. That’s similar in content to what we’ll present to the leads (see section below), this item is just to make sure we’ve shared it with the team as well, and if needed set the platform for questions and feedback. | Often PM led, with XFN collaboration.
- ✅ Customers insights: making sure we looked at customer feedback, summarised it, and shared with the team. That is useful for strategy/roadmap input, and to build empathy to our users. Now we have some dedicated tool and process to collect those, but in the past, I just collected user feedback in docs, and then, at least once a quarter reviewed and shared them | Ideally, PMM led.
- ✅ Roadmap update: according to input as well as team capacity, we 1) update the roadmap, 2) share it with the team, and 3) call for input. We collect the team’s feedback and input, and after around a week share the finalised roadmap. During planning times, we’ll have a more heavy brainstorming and prioritisation workshops. | led by PM, however due to capacity can also be driven by EM, UXR or other partners.
- ✅ Engineering quality roadmap update: our team does that grooming monthly. In other teams it’s done weekly or quarterly. As a PM I just want to make sure that we’re starting a new quarter with that roadmap updated as well.| EM or TL led.
#2 — Leadership Review
From my experience, the review (or “check in”) with leadership includes:
- ✅ Goals and guardrails check in — how are we tracking? is there anything we should update and why?
- ✅ Summary of Understand insights — as mentioned above, will focus on the insights we’re taking to shape our next steps.
- ✅ Strategy and roadmap update — how are we tracking against the roadmap? what are we changing and why?
To not end up too stressed, I give a heads up to the team to start working on their summaries, as soon as I know the date of the review, or 2–4 weeks before end of half.
#3 — Stakeholders Across The Company
- ✅ Broad share out: I’m a big fan of sharing such updates and summaries with our stakeholders, to ensure we’re bringing everyone on the journey with us, listening to feedback and enabling conversations on partnership opportunities early. Depending on where your product is at and your company culture and tools, sharing a note might be sufficient. At other times, I also do a live meeting a broadcast or meeting. There are 2 parts that might be relevant here
- 1) focusing on practical updates — what did we ship? how can people use the product? how can people dogfood?
- 2) strategy update and call for partnerships — where the product is going? what is our vision? who are we hoping to partner up with and on what?
- ✅ Sharing “Thanks”: recognising others is a great motivation booster for everyone, and a tool to help us all stop, reflect, feel grateful and proud. In the company, our main work tool is Workplace (which is similar to Facebook but internal for an organisation), where we use have a #thanks bot. I create a post on our product group, which is visible to the entire company, and invite people to share a “thanks” to someone they worked with. It can be someone who helped them this quarter, or did went the extra mile, or did something very well worth recognising.
As a side note: some teams / orgs do that on a monthly or weekly basis, which I think is a great culture!
Different companies use different ways to communicate internally. I really do encourage you to find the way that works for your org to recognise the individuals of the larger team, in a visible way.
Hope it helps! happy for feedback, input and questions!
Happy quarter wrap up!