Your New Product Management Job (and What to Do in the First 90 Days)

When you start a new product management job it can feel like you’re standing at the top of a ski run. It’s exhilarating, but also a little scary. You’re really hoping not to fall flat on your face.

The first 90 days are really important. It’s when you need to get up to speed, demonstrate your ability and garner the trust of your colleagues.

After that point you need to be on top of things – managing your product and delivering real value to your business.

But like a ski run, your first few months in a new job will be over far too quickly.

So to help you, I’ve provided this checklist of what you need to do in the first 90 days. Good luck!


Before You Start

  • Read The First 90 Days which is required reading at many MBA programs
  • Check the LinkedIn details of your boss and company. Also review competitor websites
  • Review any recent or noteworthy news about the company in the media

First Day

  • Listen! (rather than speak)
  • Meet as many people as possible (and smile). Ask “What are you expecting of me?”
  • Have handshakes with important stakeholders and plan subsequent meetings
  • Get your basic tools set up: computer, phone, email, intranet
  • Plan meetings for the next few weeks
  • Get a hold of the Organization Chart

First Week

  • Get on the right internal distribution lists: e.g. development weekly reports, sales reports, press releases, customer support - statistics
  • Find external info sources from colleagues e.g. market intelligence reports, analysts, friendly customers
  • Identify important internal meetings
  • Identify the Power Brokers in the company (the key stakeholders you’ll need to in influence)
  • Schedule regular reviews with your boss to check you’re on track
  • Get a product demo from Sales. Ask why customers buy and what problems your product solves
  • Understand the customer buying process – how long does it take and who makes the decisions
  • Get a product demo from Development
  • Read the product collateral - as much of it as you can find
  • Sniff out ‘Bombs’ that are about to explode and determine length of fuse! (issues you’ll need to deal with)
  • Understand the ‘stated’ corporate strategy and objectives

First Month

  • Organise an off-site lunch with PMs and close team mates
  • Make no promises & repeat frequently: “I’m here to listen and understand!”
  • Probe - remember in the first month you can still ask naive questions and get away with it
  • Have a demonstrable success (preferably by the end of the 3rd week)
  • Have your weekly structure defined (meetings, reports, reviews etc)
  • Understand how things actually work around here
  • Understand the approval process for getting stuff done
  • Understand the objectives of other business functions so you know how to work with them
  • Visit a customer (or several preferably!) with Sales or Account Management (B2B)
  • Become the expert on the business requirements for the product. Who’s using the product, how and why?
  • Get involved in a Sales Pipeline Funnel Review
  • Be the Product Owner (or have a proxy)
  • Understand the business/requirements of the top 10% of your customers
  • Understand the revenue breakdown by product(s)
  • Do a basic competitive analysis
  • Be a participant in a Sprint cycle (if company uses Scrum)
  • Review Customer Support tickets with Support Manager
  • Review the “Product Backlog”
  • Get or create a product dashboard including sales numbers and revenue
  • Identify Strengths and Weaknesses of the product

By The End of Your First Three Months

  • Determine one or two key processes you are going to work to improve
  • Gain approval for a major product development – or at least understand how that works
  • Produce a product Business Plan
  • Set up your own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
  • Join Sales on a prospecting call. Listen in on some support calls
  • Understand customer and industry vocabulary and jargon
  • Be the Market Expert – know what customers want and what problems they have
  • Be the Customer Advocate in the business
  • Be the Product Expert. Have a vision for the product
  • Have the product collateral/messaging/web content updated and be able to demo the product
  • Map the existing Roadmap and propose a new Roadmap
  • If you have multiple products, then show them on a BCG or McKinsey matrix, to get insights across the portfolio
  • Calculate the financial performance of your product
  • Introduce yourself to one or two market analysts (ex: Forrester & Gartner) that does research on your target market
  • Evaluate your personal training needs

By The End of the Third Quarter (half a year later)

  • Have established a network of listening posts in the market to drip-feed insights through to you
  • Have the ability to challenge development/engineering work estimates
  • Understand the unique competences of the company