Drowning in product documentation? Start swimming – Part 1

(Updated from the original on 3 December 2015)

Do you spend more time writing documents about your product than actually managing it?

Many companies with a product management function become all caught up in the process, drowning themselves in increasing numbers of documents. These rapidly become overwhelming to manage, contain duplicated detail and ultimately obscure the real goal of product management, namely to create successful products.

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Painting the Forth Bridge

I’m originally from Edinburgh, despite the distinctly foreign-sounding surname.  Running across the Firth of Forth from South Queensferry are road and rail bridges.  The rail bridge is the older of the two and is a distinctive rust-brown colour, which settles it into its context both by blending in with the surrounding hills and countryside on sunny days, and by contrasting with the grey mist and clouds on overcast days.

There is a popular myth that in order to protect its metalwork from the salty ravages of the nearby North Sea, the bridge needed to be painted to keep it proofed against corrosion.  The task took so long that, by the time the painters finished one job, it was immediately time to begin over.

It occurred to me recently that I’ve spent the best part of the last nine months getting to grips with our financial reporting so that we’d be able to define realistic targets for each of our thirty-odd software products and data sets.  Now that I’ve just finished, I have seemingly a short lull before I have to begin over again.

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Easier product forecasting

Do you find it difficult to set appropriate financial targets for your product?  Recently I’ve been attempting to simplify the process as part of my planning for my company’s next fiscal year and wanted to share an approach I’ve found helpful with you.  I’ve created a straightforward spreadsheet, which you are welcome to download and adapt for your own purposes.
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