A day in the life of a PM

What it's like to be a PM at a software agency?

What is the PM? 

Among the roles in the development team, unlike ‘Developer’ or ‘Designer’, PM doesn’t seem to have a clear definition in its name. PM can stand for Product Manager, Project Manager, or Program Manager, the role and job description both depend on the company. PMs at some firms might lead the developers or even manage people in a team. 

Here at OOZOU, PM means ‘Project Manager’. The PM shares the same hierarchy with everyone in the team. We manage the project’s timeline and budget, gather requirements, and collaborate with the development team to deliver digital products to the client. From time to time, as a PM, I also wear various hats such as a Business Analyst, Product Owner, or Scrum Master. It’s not that you must cover everything, but the role is flexible enough to let you participate in multiple areas.

Well, now we have something to start with. Let me walk you through the typical day as a PM. (Although nothing feels typical after Covid-19!)

9:30 am

Arrive at the office!
At OOZOU, we don’t have fixed working hours and we commonly start working a bit later than other companies. People usually come to the office around 10 am but I just come a bit early to get myself organized and ready for the day. My morning starts with some coffee (we have a decent coffee machine at the office), free snacks, and fruits (again, provided by the office!). 

10:00 am

Day to day tasks
Officially start working! A snapshot of a PM’s morning routine might be similar to the following: 
  1. Reply emails and Slack messages
  2. Organize JIRA tickets
  3. Sip some coffee then repeat 1.

10:30 am

Daily Stand-up
It’s time for the team members to update what they did yesterday, what they will do today, and if there is any impediment. The goal should be getting people on the same page, not verifying that people still work, that’s not how it works at OOZOU. 

Based on the Agile/Scrum practices, the stand-up should last no longer than 15 minutes. However, it’s a great time to have a bit of chitchat with everyone in the team about how our lives go, so we end up standing there together a bit longer.

'How is everything going?' time aka Daily Stand-up

10:45 pm

Plan for the day
It’s time to carefully review all the feedback from the client and development team. I use Notion to take notes and manage my own to-do-list. For instance, when I get feedback from the client, here is what the next step can be.

  1. Review the existing product.
  2. Clarify the reason why the client wants to change 
    • Is there any data to support? 
    • If not, how do we know if it’s improved from the existing one? 
  3. Are the time and budget fit with the updated scope?
    • Does it require amendments to the design or development? 
    • What is the expected release of this feedback 
    • What is the estimation from the team? 
    • Do we have enough people to do it by the time requested?
  4. Summarize the plan 
    • What are the pros and cons of doing it? ROI? Should we do it?

There are some steps required to make a decision. That’s why taking note plays an important part of my job. 

Things also become more challenging when you have more than one project to manage. Normally, at OOZOU, each PM will take care of 1-2 projects. If the project is big and there are many stakeholders involved, there will be a fully dedicated PM for that project. For example, I’m taking care of 3 projects simultaneously. Thus, it’s essential to find ways to balance the time spent on each project and prioritize what must be done first to keep them on track.

12:00 pm

My favorite time of the day. Period.

1:00 pm

As a PM, I am a mediator that connects everyone together and makes sure they’re all on the same page. That’s why I regularly spend my afternoon discussing the features and planning product roadmap with clients and my team members. It's essential to manage all related stakeholders without being overwhelmed by tons of meetings. At OOZOU, we mainly use Hangout and Slack but the client may request to use other tools. I end up having Zoom, Microsoft Team, Skype, and many more apps installed on my laptop (still waiting for MSN to come back…).

Always stay professional in the meeting even only half a body.

3:00 pm

Project Management
Scope, Time, and Budget, the Triple Constraint Triangle, are the key elements of project management. PM will be making sure that the working scope fits well with the time scheduled with the people that align with a project’s budget. To get user’s feedback early in the process, we offer iterative and incremental product development to the client. The PM must adjust the project plan and facilitate the stakeholders according to the ambiguous requirements. 

Here is a time for me to start prioritizing the new enhancements and updating the iteration plans. Sometimes I have to ask the development team for the new estimation, add additional members to the team, or renegotiate the project scope with the client to make sure that we can deliver a working increment within the time and budget approved by the client. 

4:30 pm

Product Management
To help the client maximize the product value, the PM must have a holistic and strategic view of the product challenges and the potential solutions that the development team can offer. For instance, part of my job is recommending how the client can collect feedback from real users by analytics tools and user testing. Thus, I may spend an entire afternoon with my colleagues to create a list of the required events and funnel on Google Analytics. On another day I may be working with the Product Designers to develop the wireframe and design the user journey that can potentially tackle user pain points. Some PMs may also take part in other areas of the development cycle such as QA/Testing and DevOps.

Getting to participate in many parts of the product development journey helps me learn a lot from the team members, who are all professionals in their fields. On top of that, I've been receiving huge support from them from the first day I joined OOZOU. Working as a PM wouldn't be this fun without them.

5:30 pm

Keep up with technology!
It’s also a time to keep myself updated with technology trends as well as new product solutions offered in the market. Study plays a big part in making me look smarter (than I actually am) when I work with clients from different industries. I allocate this slot to read books and websites like Techcrunch or Mashable kind of stuff and to practice coding. However, I found one of the most valuable resources is the developers in my team especially when I try to learn different tech stacks. 

5:45 pm

The day is almost over. It’s time to list down what needs to be done tomorrow. I find it’s always better to plan for everything at least one day in advance. In case I have a bad dream or low blood sugar, I still have something left in my dead brain that morning. 

6:00 pm

Call it a day. 
Time to appreciate 35 hours/week and no overtime policy. It enables us at OOZOU to maintain the work-life balance and explore the world after work. That may be wishful thinking during the Covid-19 period, but who cares, when there’re still Netflix shows to catch up.

I hope this outline helps you visualize what the PM does daily. Nevertheless, as you can imagine, no one day is like another. What surely remains the core of the PM role is keeping the team together and creating a meaningful product for the client. 

If you’re curious to find out more about the PM role at OOZOU, please drop by our career page!

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Nut Ittiattanee

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