How should I structure a case study for a Product Manager role at a startup?

Most PM interviews have a prequel – A case study on “tell us how you would implement feature x in our app, how would you go about it”.

Here are some points I’d definitely cover, but in case you have limited time, keep a check on the need to be detailed.

Structure:

  • Vision
    1. 1-2 sentence description of target customers, their unmet needs, and your proposed solution.
    2. You can probably also include the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Persona(s)

 

  • Motivation
    1. Jump into the demographics of the user/customer you’re building for. What are his goals, mantras, needs and worries. What are the key metrics of success?
    2. Can repeat this for Secondary and Tertiary persona(s) as well

 

  • Research Design
    1. You could then go on to cover a couple of experiment designs, discoveries, and ideas to help get to the features that you want to implement.
    2. This followed by Lo-Fi MVP Testing (stuff like emails, surveys, chatbots, etc) and present your results.
    3. You could also do a competitor analyses at this stage covering Competitor, Key Strength, Key Weakness, etc (both direct and indirect) and then share your key takeaways and points of differentiation

In case of a feature in an existing app, you can do these steps on a very low scale.

 

  • Key Path Scenarios
    1. Now move on to a simple walkthrough or workflow. You could also go about building out a very simple wire-frame (lots of tools available like proto.io) if you have time
    2. This would ideally cover my entire user journey, but can be limited since you’re building out only a part or a new feature

 

  • Design & Features Description
    1. Can focus on the feature description rather than design
    2. Very important to cover the dependencies and priorities in this case

 

  • Suggested Information Architecture
    1. What will the views look like? If you have a tech background, you can also emphasize on the requirements that you feel will be needed/suited

 

  • Roadmap
    1. Next, move on to the timelines and roadmap. Since different versions will have different requirements, I’ve divided this into three sections.
    2. Provide a summary of the functionality proposed for your MVP, the next version of your product, and the mature product.

 

v1 aka Minimum Viable Product: The MVP solely focuses on helping the basic features up and running. Should answer the question: What functions are absolutely necessary?

vNext: The vNext version is focused on helping the users on secondary benefits. Should answer: What additional features would give me a better functionality?

vLongterm: The vLongterm functionality will further enhance the core functionality in v1 and vNext. Should answer: What are some features that aren’t necessary but will definitely enhance user experience?

 

  • Milestones / Timing
    1. Describe the planned timing of releases and key activities for your first release.
    2. What are your major milestones (internal demo, beta launch, full launch, etc.)?
    3. Are there natural points for reassessment? Consider linking to a spreadsheet with a PERT / gantt chart.
    4. Describe the major elements of your Go-to-Market plan. What marketing methods do you plan to leverage, in what sequence, etc?

 

  • Metrics
    1. What are the primary metrics that you’d want to track?
    2. These can be related to Value to Users, Virality, Super Users, and Growth, Cohort Retention, NPS, MAU, DAU, CAC etc.

 

  • Projected Costs & Operational Needs
    1. How many engineers * weeks will the project require? How much will different components, individuals, or usage cost you for storage and compute resources?
    2. At some point, you will need to get estimates from engineers (or via Upwork) on the amount of time and potential costs for your project.
    3. Some that you could include:
      • Engineering Costs
      • Marketing / other Costs

 

  • Risks
    1. Last but not the least, consider key risks and dependencies, what might be a probable explanation and what you think are some mitigants that you believe might work.

 

While this looks like a whole lot of detail, feel free to use it as a guide and pick sections based on the time available.

Feel free to drop me a message on [email protected] and I’d be happy to go through your case-study solution and provide some feedback!

February 7, 2019

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