The expert is calling from inside the house

I’ve played product manager more often this year than I have in years. It’s been a fun role to get back into.

It’s also been a long time since I played product manager at a larger company. The last two times were tiny startups, and well, it’s a very different experience.

With tiny startup product management, I didn’t have a lot of internal expertise to rely on, so most of the research was external – I had to find people to talk to, find research, do a lot of research, and figure out how to validate assumptions.

A lot of that is similar in a larger company, but, the expertise is inside the walls at a larger company. I’ve had great results in all of my recent projects by just asking for folks who have expertise in big public Slack channels and they just appeared!

I think we frequently discount our own, and our peers’, expertise when doing discovery and research, especially our peers in customer support roles. I think that’s a huge mistake. Who talks to your customer more than the folks in customer support? Nobody. Who knows your product better than the people who have to support it? Pretty much nobody.

I was able to jump start onboarding to new subject areas a whole lot faster by asking our support teams about their processes and doing user interviews, just like I would with a potential customer, and that lead to some really interesting discoveries and avenues to explore.

So, don’t take your internal experts for granted! Ask them things! Praise them! Share your results back with them!

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By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.