Knowledge management for product managers

Product Managers process several terabytes of information on a weekly basis in the form of customer calls, Jira tickets, Slack messages, et al.

PM are also famously expected to multi-task (not multi-focus). Decision fatigue can get real and memory, long-form docs or comments in code can only help so much. Every PM needs a personal, private knowledge management system. More about this later.

Here are eight docs that help me day to day:

  1. Userguide: this is a readme file for others to better understand how to best engage, communicate and work with you. It helps them understand your preferred focus work hours and feedback style. @joulee speaks about these a lot across her content.

  2. Brag doc: as we make progress we forget our wins. Having a record of wins not only help boost morale when we hit a low but also help with performance review conversations. I used to keep a running list of milestones but then found this better template.

  3. Hype doc: this is a brag doc for your product engineering team. It is similar in structure to the brag doc but focuses on the team as a whole and their achievements such as customer wins, positive feedback from GTM, major ships, etc.

  4. Weekly plans: every Monday I send an email to the product, pmm, design and engineering folks I am directly working with on projects. It includes my: plan for week, progress from previous week and one takeaway from a book I am reading. @calvinfo writes about it in detail in his blog post.

  5. Customer logs: as a PM you talk to customers all the time. It is much easier to maintain a single document per customer so that you can add key bullets under a date for each meeting you have. This helps maintain context and trace if issue from a customer gets escalated.

  6. Product gaps: backlogs are great and all but you really need a personal diary of things you see as gaps and want to improve in the product you own. I just maintain a live document with dates as headings and bullets with new ideas, feature requests, ignored issues, et al. I visit this document every (quarterly, yearly) planning cycle.

  7. Ecosystem updates: I love consumer privacy and every single thing Apple has been doing. I maintain an open, running log of all industry developments around topics that impacts my product area or ecosystem at large – CDP for Segment.

  8. Metrics updates: this a document you can share with your team weekly summarizing metrics, new customer asks and summaries from calls w/ customer from prev week. It helps provide everyone the same context around progress.