Right Questions to ask when you join a new org as a product manager

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I have worked with multiple organisations in the last decade and there is one thing used perplex me is “how do I quickly get onboarded to a new workplace”. While some organization do have great onboarding programs but most of them give you a surface level understanding of the ecosystem.

As a product manager , our responsibilities are very cross functional in nature i.e we need to be aware of entire company ecosystem. We need to ensure we know the right people across departments and at the same time we understand the business properly.

We as PM’s sit right at the center of a business, which means we need to have a good understanding of the business holistically than just getting ourselves familiar with the product.

The above ask is easier said than done , this usually becomes a big barrier for a product manager to quickly get onboarded. The only viable solution to the problem is “asking the right questions”.

I am now going to mention a few important questions that every product manager should get answers to in the first 30-60 days of their onboarding.

  1. General
    1. Who are the key stakeholders from different departments?
      • Engineering (Aravind)
      • Sales
      • Support
      • Customer Success
      • Marketing
      • Product Marketing
      • Design
      • Cross function BU
    2. Is the company sales driven / product drives / customer success driven? Who owns P&L for the BU.
  • GTM
    • Historical growth rate (MOM , YOY)  
    • Churn Rate (what cohort of customers have least/most churn)
    • Lead flow and lead scoring method
    • ARPU
    • Total customers by geo , size , industry etc
    • Definition of enterprise , mid-market , SMB
    • Target market
    • Positioning
      • What jobs do our customers hire us for?
      • How do we package and price our offerings?
        • Value metric
        • Pricing tiers
        • Add ons
        • Cross sell and upsell
      • What moats are we developing?
      • What is our brand known for? How do our customers describe what the company is?
    • How does internal enablement work?
    • Access to business dashboards
    • Cross sell and upsell initiatives?
    • Other business metrics
    • Build vs buy
  • Product
    • Product structure
      • How are products divided and what are the overlaps?
      • What are the platform limitations/dependencies
    • Tools and resources
    • User personas
    • Releases
    • Roadmap planning
    • Working with engineering
    • Working with design
    • Idea generation
      • Support ticket analysis
      • Win/loss analysis (Renewals and new business)
      • Customer idea board
      • Public reviews analysis (G2 , trust radius , foresstor, gartner etc)
    • Competition
      • Who are the top 3-4 competitors?
      • Why do customers prefer us over them?
      • Why do customers leave us for them?
      • Why do we lose deals to them?
    • Product adoption framework (Metrics) / dashboards access
    • Customer interaction (interviews , sales calls , support calls, conferences etc)

The biggest problem during first 30-60 days of your onboarding is that there is too much going on. You have a LOT of questions to ask. The problem is not the questions but the structure. If you develop a mental model to group your questions logically then your mind can grasp the answer easily and you holistically cover the larger ecosystem.

I hope the above structure helps you organize your thoughts and questions better.

About me

Welcome to my blog! My name is Rahul Jain, I am a product management evangelist with 10+ years of experience working in B2C and B2B domain. I want to express all my learnings through this website and I will try to uncover all the product management jargon in the easiest and realistic manner.