The first 90 days as a new Product Manager

Elena Calvillo
5 min readOct 28, 2023

2022 was surprisingly unexpected for me with different challenges, some of them more satisfactory than others, but at the end it all comes to growing in a personal and professional way. I’m happy to announce that I’ll start 2023 with a new job at a IT services company. I’m very excited for this opportunity and the challenges ahead.

So I decided to take the opportunity to write about what a new Product Manager should focus on the first 3 months in any company.

The first 90 days of the job

Product Managers are planner lovers, am I right? The first thing you should focus on is learning as much as you can of the product, the company and get to know all the teams involved. To be successful at this new job, you need to create a plan of how you’ll meet expectations over time (this is where the “long-term” comes in).

First 30 days: Listen, ask, learn

Use the first week to get to know the company, the people, the culture, the business and the product strategy. Try to understand what your personal goals are and if possible set up your career plan with your leader. Also, learn about the product’s market, users and the competitors.

Does the product already exists or is it brand new that hasn’t been shipped to market? Knowing this will help us to outline a 1-year roadmap with the team, but this will depend of the state of the product. If the product already exists and there’s a roadmap try to deep dive into it, get familiar with the features and what comes next. Take vantage of your fresh eyes to seek for improvements in early stages.

During weeks 2 and 3, work closely with the team to get familiar with the metrics measure the product’s success. This will be important to start thinking in how to improve the user experience.

On week 4, spend time understanding existing processes and try to identify which ones are the most successful ones and those that need improvement. This will help you to know what you should keep and what you should change.

From 31 to 60 days: Build bridges

For weeks 5 to 6, you need to get familiar with the current state of the product and the technology stack. Also, define the product goals and objectives by understanding customer pain points. Connecting with the customer base directly or by other means is the goal here.

Weeks 7 and 8 will be dedicated to prioritize the features and build an MVP. This will include defining the features in detail, determining what should be built first, validating assumptions and creating a plan to test the product.

From 61 to 90 days: Iterate, iterate, iterate

Weeks 9 to 12 will be spent planning the product launches and working closely with the team to make sure all the elements are in place. This includes working with designers, developers and any other team to bring the product to market. Also, create clear and concise product specifications and use cases.

After the 3 months will be focused on launch, ongoing user feedback, refinement of the product and maximize user engagement. This will involve regularly following up on user feedback, making sure the team is tracking the product’s metrics, and refining and optimizing the product over time.

Overall, the first 90 days as a Product Manager is crucial to the success of the product and the company. The goal is to make sure you understand the product, the team, the technology, the market, and the users in order to create a brand new product or even release a new feature of an existing product.

DON’T! Things you should to avoid from day 1

As a new product manager, it can be tempting to dive right in and start making changes right away. But that’s not always the best approach.

In fact, there are some things you should avoid doing in your first 90 days on the job:

- Don’t assume anyone is waiting for your ideas or insights. Everyone has their own work to do, and they might not be interested in what you have to say just yet. Don’t force it!

- Don’t try to fix everything at once. Instead of tackling everything at once, focus on one thing at a time — even if that thing is just learning how everything works around here!

- Don’t try to make all of your decisions alone. It’s tempting to think that hard work will be recognized and rewarded by being able to make all of your own decisions, but this isn’t always true. By working with your team, you can avoid making decisions that could later cause issues for other people on the team or for customers.

- Don’t think that other solutions will work here too. Every company has its own unique culture and style — so take some time to understand what worked here before making sweeping changes based on what used to work somewhere else.

- Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go perfectly from day one! It takes time for teams to gel together; for processes to become established; for new hires to settle into their roles. It’ll be okay, that’s completely normal!

90 days checklist

30 days

◦ Understand the company culture and goals

◦ Get to know your cross-functional teams

◦ If brand new product, outline a 1-year roadmap with the team

◦ If there’s a roadmap, seek for a small new feature to launch

◦ Determine the metrics to measure the product’s success

◦ Understand the current processes and identify improvements

31 to 60 days

◦ Get familiar with the current state of the product and the technology stack

◦ Connect and build relationships with the team, stakeholders and customers

◦ Define the product goals and objectives by understanding customer pain points

◦ Prioritize the features to work on in the near term

◦ Validate assumptions to mitigate risk

◦ Create a plan to test the product

61 to 90 days

◦ Create a plan to launch the product or feature to market

◦ Double check with the team everything is in place

◦ Create clear and concise product specifications and use cases

◦ Gather valuable user feedback

◦ Improve necessary processes

◦ Make sure to track product’s metrics

◦ Refine and optimize the product over time

As promised here is the template with the 90 days checklist 👇

Get the template

That’s a wrap!

The first 90 days of as a product manager are crucial for setting yourself up for success. After all, if you don’t get it right during this period, it’s going to be hard to recover later on.

In summary, in this period of time will be full of learning about the product, the team, the customers, the business model and the processes. It’s important to keep the objectives in mind, plan and set deadlines to measure progress. All this combined with good engagement, communication and trust will help you become a successful Product Manager.

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