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Deciphering PM Lingo

I’m often asked for a list of terms a new Product Manager should know. This may be because someone is trying to get a PM gig or because they’re working at an Agile shop for the first time. Recently, there have also been a number of questions about acronyms some of our more enterprise clients use from Pivots.

This past week I gave a tech talk in NYC on Deciphering Product Management Lingo on both sets of terms. Please share this with anyone who’s looking to learn more about being a PM.

Also, check out the whole deck with notes here.

A/B Testing: Experiment that sends different users to different screens/flows which doesn’t need to be 50/50
Acceptance Criteria: The details in a user story which outline what the expected interaction will be
Agile: Software development process which places the highest value on working software
Analytics: Methodology for measuring metrics which will validate your hypothesis and identify opportunities for improvement
Beta: The not-entirely finished product given to select users
Bugs: Issues with something that is already accepted
Business Analyst (BA): helps Product Manager with story/spec writing and acceptance
Change Request (CR): Process to note or request an update to the existing specification
Chores / Tasks: Technical todo’s that have no user value, but have to get done anyway
Compliance: Team the ensures products follows rules generated by government agency regulators
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Comparison between what will need to be invested and what will be gained to figure out whether it’s worth it
Customer Development: The process of reaching out to customers and prospects in order to learn about who they are, what they need, and whether they appreciate what you’re building
Effort: Developer’s estimation of time that will be invested to deliver a story or group of stories
Governance: A group of people at a company who are entrusted to make sure projects
are in line with organization’s goals
Kickoff / Inception: Meeting to discuss the goals for the upcoming time, antigoals, risks, personas, user flows, and epic level features to ensure everyone is on the same page for the next phase of development
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): The metrics established that will validate assumptions
Lean: Business strategy that guides product based on validating assumptions and reducing risk while creating things of value to customers It is often used with Agile but is independent
Lean Canvas: Tool to help formalize and communicate your business plan in one page
MRD (Market Requirements Document): Includes justification and vision for a product and signoff to develop it for market
MVP (Minimum Viable Product): A Minimum Viable Product is the smallest thing you can build that allows you to validate a hypothesis and start the learning process
Points: Estimation of relative complexity of a story or group of stories
PRD (Product Requirements Document): Long document that includes every detail needed to build a product
Product Manager (PM): Person who decides what’s next for the product
Product Marketing Manager (PMM): Team member that positions product in market and gathers feedback
Product Owner (PO): High level person who sets vision for product and reports up results: sets vision for product and reports up results (really should be called a Business Owner and the Product Manager should be the Product Owner, but that’s not always the case)
Product Development Lifecycle: The phases needed to launch a product and it’s later features
Product Lifecycle: The phases a product will go through once it’s in the market through extinction
Product Line Manager: Leader who manages multiple products within a product line from a higher level
Program Manager (PM): Someone who is project managing multiple projects from a higher level
Project Manager (PM): Person on multiple teams that makes sure things get done on time
QA (Quality Assurance): Team which makes sure things aren’t broken
RACI Matrix: Chart to clarify who is responsible for what on a cross-functional team for compliance
Release Candidate: The branch of code that is ready for checking for bugs and integration functionality before it is give to the public
Release Plan: A list of prioritized features in this release or a list of all upcoming releases for the next few years, depending on your organization
Retrospective: Regular meeting to understand what’s working and what’s not that results in action items to keep the good and improve the bad
RFP (Request for Proposal): An organization’s call for consultants to propose what they could do to help
Risk: Anything known about that can negatively impact the deliverables
Roadmap: An outline of where the product is headed in the next few months (or years)
Scrum: Flavor of Agile with self organizing teams and a Scrum Master who’s sole purpose is to keep distractions away from the team
Sprint / Iteration: Short (16 week) periods of development
Standup: Regularly scheduled meeting (daily) where the team stands up and discusses current progress and blockers
SWOT Analysis: An outline of the Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, Threats a product, team, or organization has
UAT: A list of all of the scenarios that must be cleared before a product goes to market, which a lot of is covered by automated test suites now
UI (User Interface): The elements which the users will see, touch, or hear
User flow: How a type of user gets from A → B → C → B … and progresses through your product
User Stories: Description of the motivation and acceptance criteria for a feature that delivers user value
User Testing: Observing a user interacting with a prototype or product and asking them open ended questions to learn
UX (User Experience): Continuous concern for how the user will feel while interacting with the product
Validate: Process of checking if you’re going in the right direction

What’d I miss????

  1. Larry says:

    Hi Tami,
    This is a good list that’s quite extensive. I also liked the slides. They should give someone a nice step up.

    Just off the top of my head a couple of terms that you may have included in your talk but not above might include:
    – Agile Flavors –
    * Scrum – see above
    * XP or extreme programming – flavor of agile development most notable for the use of pair programming and testing process
    * Kanban – more of a flavor of lean but often used in Agile environments where a work in progress (WIP) limit is used to manage the development flow

    Scaled Agile Framework or SAFe – a way of expanding the Agile elements beyond just a single team.

    Hope these add some value,

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