Day in the Life of: Product Manager – Matthew Miller
By Mogul | December 20, 2016
My day usually starts between 5am and 6am. I wake up and check my phone for emails. What I’m looking for is information on what’s happening with Strea.ma, our software-as-a-service social media display wall. I’m Strea.ma’s product manager so I want to know how many people have signed up overnight, what support queries are coming in, or if any big famous brands have signed up. Most of Strea.ma’s customers are in Europe or North America so the website gets used mostly from about midnight to noon our time.
I get to work after dropping my daughter off at school. Someone has made me a coffee. Normally I’ll join the team for their daily WIP (work in progress meeting) at 8.30.
Most days I’m focused on Strea.ma. Lately I’ve been chasing up quotes from other companies who are going to be helping us develop the product in the new year. I’ve got a massive deadline to get an application in for Callaghan Innovation funding. If we miss out this time around, then it will be months before we can have another crack at it. Simon, a consultant who is helping me with the application, is trying his best not to nag me but it can get pretty complicated and confusing when you’ve got a project with this moving parts. And we’re only small – God knows how the Xero guys do it!
I’ve told our production team that they need to launch three new Strea.ma features by Christmas so we’ve got some good news for our customers, so we sit down as a team and go through my big list of ideas for new features. It’s a hard job prioritising new features for products. You get the easy wins out of the way first, and then you’re faced with some big decisions, i.e. awesome features that will take a lot of time and money, or little features that might not be all that important. We pick three that our customers have been asking about for ages and agree that we’ll roll them out the day before we go on holiday. A couple of years ago that would be a recipe for disaster, but now our deployment and testing processes are so well-worn that I’m confident and looking forward to it. I have daily meetings and updates with the production team so there are no surprises.
We’re also in the middle of a redesign of the Strea.ma website so I’m trying to find some uninterrupted time to write some killer content. Sometimes it comes easily. Mostly it doesn’t!
And we’re moving into a new office. The landlord’s builders are turning a warehouse-cum-church into a state-of-the-art office for a web development company. I went round there this morning and saw that things are progressing. But it’s got absolutely zero internet connection, so I have to arrange fibre and get an IT company to put cabling through the whole building. This is all new to me, but you just have to take it in your stride. It will all be OK. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing. And I’m staying well away from the interior design.
We’re also hiring some new people, so I need to be involved in creating job descriptions and job ads. Jamie, our Agency Lead, has taken over the bulk of our HR work, and George is also really good at people management so I just need to give the OK to a lot of these things, but I still need to be at the important meetings. We also have a regular weekly catch-up as a management team, and as much as possible, I attend the annual performance review meetings with each staff member.
By about 2.30pm I’m ready to get away from my screen and the meeting room for a bit, so I’ll often pick the children up from school and take them to tennis lessons, or the optometrist, dentist, orthodontist, doctor, art classes – you name it, they do it. Luckily everything in Hawke’s Bay is really easy to get to, and you never get stuck in traffic. So by 3.30 or 4pm I’m back in work mode, answering the emails that continue to pile in, or I’m finishing writing up some documentation or marketing material.
We take it in turns to do the cooking so I’ll make something for the family. The girls are getting a bit older now so we usually all eat together. Then it’s time to take the dog for a walk. She comes to work with me and I try to take her out at least twice a day, even if it’s just around the block. But now with daylight saving, we can take her for a decent walk around the hills. We let the dog off the leash and she sprints around the estate madly trying to catch rabbits and birds, and getting covered in mud. I’m getting golf clubs for Christmas so that will be another good excuse to get out in the evenings and stretch the legs.
I’ll have a last look at my emails about 9pm just to satisfy myself that all is good, then we’ll watch some TV like Westworld or Stranger Things, or even better, I’ll watch live cricket and try not to fall asleep in front of the TV.