Writing Effective Docs: Master Product Management

In the world of product management, writing effective documents is a crucial skill. However, in smaller companies like startups, it is often challenging to gather sufficient data to back up the information in these documents. So how can you write impactful documents without relying on weasel words and unsupported claims? This blog post provides some tips and strategies for writing in a context with a dearth of information and offers insights on time allocation for writing as a product manager.

Writing in a Context with Insufficient Data

When working in a startup or smaller company, it is common to face situations where there is a lack of data to support the claims made in the documents. While it might seem daunting, there are strategies you can employ to write effective documents even in the absence of hard data. One approach is to define and follow certain guiding principles or tenets that can help you make decisions when data is scarce.

For example, you can establish a tenet that prioritizes quality over quantity. This means that even if you don’t have concrete data to back up a particular claim or decision, you can fall back on the principle of preferring quality over quantity. By setting these tenets upfront, you provide yourself with a framework for decision-making that doesn’t solely rely on data. This approach allows you to write documents confidently, even when you don’t have all the supporting numbers.

Another tip for writing in a context with insufficient data is to acknowledge the ambiguity and embrace it. Instead of attempting to make unsupported claims or using weasel words, be transparent about the situation and focus on the process or steps that can lead to finding a solution. This way, you can present your thoughts and ideas without making unsubstantiated claims, and it shows a level of honesty and professionalism in your approach.

Time Allocation: How Much Time Should Product Managers Spend on Writing?

As a product manager, writing is a significant aspect of your role. However, the time allocated for writing can vary depending on various factors, including the stage of the product development process and the complexity of the documents you need to create. Generally, product managers spend a significant amount of time on writing, which includes research, meetings, and actual document creation.

While it is challenging to determine an exact percentage, a rough estimate suggests that product managers spend around 30-40% of their time on writing-related tasks. This includes drafting various documents like product requirement documents, user stories, and internal reports. Additionally, product managers have to invest time in gathering information, conducting research, and seeking alignment with other team members.

The remaining time is dedicated to other product management activities, such as strategy development, feature prioritization, and execution. The balance between writing and other tasks can vary depending on the stage of the product lifecycle and the priorities of the organization.

It’s worth noting that while writing may seem like a time-consuming activity, it is an essential part of the product management process. Well-written documents can align teams, clarify goals, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Therefore, it’s crucial for product managers to allocate sufficient time to writing and treat it as a valuable aspect of their role.

Conclusion

Writing effective documents with insufficient data is a common challenge for product managers, particularly in smaller companies. However, by following certain strategies, such as defining guiding principles and acknowledging ambiguity, you can write impactful documents even when hard data is lacking. Additionally, allocating an appropriate amount of time for writing is crucial for product managers to ensure clear communication and alignment within their teams. By mastering the art of writing in a context with a dearth of information, product managers can excel in their roles and drive successful product strategies.

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