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Hackernoon logoHow to Plan your First 90 Days as a New Product Manager by@salemm

How to Plan your First 90 Days as a New Product Manager

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Product Management Leader.

There is always that new product manager who is wondering what the next 3 months will look like. The successes, learnings, adaptations, expectations, and the list goes on and on.

I am writing to let you know you are not alone and I'd like to share some pointers on how to accomplish and exceed expectations in your first 3 months.

Based on my personal experience, this guide has helped many PMs get up to speed. It is old news that new employee onboarding in several fast-paced companies can feel like drinking from a firehose. Hence, a carefully curated progression plan can be a great mechanism to define clear expectations early on for long term success.

Also, please feel free to use this as a primary resource if your manager is yet to provide you with an onboarding plan.

Before you dive in:

I personally believe a good onboarding plan for a PM starts before you even join the company. This step is optional. However, it could significantly reduce your ramp-up time while massively increasing your odds of succeeding within the company.

Goal: Come up with a list of things you would do if you were the CEO.

Without knowledge of the internal business priorities and product challenges, write down all the things you feel the CEO should do in the next 12 months. This helps you build outsider perspective before you get biased by internal information.

Once you have joined, this could be a great conversation topic for your 1:1 with the CEO.

Step 1: The First 30 Days

Goal: At the end of 30 days, you should have a better understanding of how your company works and who the key players are in each department. Put an early focus on the actual product.

Key Tasks:

Schedule 1 to 1 meetings: This could be very time consuming but very profitable if done correctly. One quick way is to do lunch and coffee daily with a new person from the company. When it comes to getting things done, knowing what role each player plays in the overall company dynamics is vital.

Ship the product: Yes, you read right. It might feel scary, don’t forget that what you ship matters less than getting a quick win — even a small change that improves a customer’s life by 0.0001% is a win. You could use any low priority item from the existing backlog. The goal is to learn how to ship a change/feature in this new company.

Shadow non-product meetings: Attend cross functional meetings teams like sales, marketing, customer success. In these meetings, observe, listen, and write extensive notes. When you need to connect all the dots and understand the customer touchpoints, you’ll find these very impactful.

Over ask questions: Everyone allows the new hire to ask the most stupid questions. Ask away whilst you can, because you will soon be answering most questions.

Step 2: 60 Days

Goal: By Day 60, you should understand the company’s expectations of you and your unique value offering to customers, products and the business.

Key Tasks:

Deep Dive into the product: It is time for probing sessions with relevant engineers and designers. Take even more time in walking through critical product scenarios; you will find the real situation and identify all existing challenges. You are looking to learn opportunities and ship more improvements to production.

Interview internal & external stakeholders: Plan a listening tour that spans across all teams. Build a list of questions that you can ask all participants, such as to identify their pain points concerning a product or a process.

Master the process: Here, you need to know the processes that works. From quarterly planning to multi level reporting, OKRs, etc.

Step 3: The Third Month

Goal: By Day 90, you should be considered an ancestor in the product team. You should have at least two features or projects where you’re the pilot. You should know the process and people for each stage of the entire product lifecycle.

Key Tasks:

Develop your formula: Find the notes gathered from all the 1:1 meetings, shadow sessions, and listening tours. Try to find common patterns and use them to build your formula and then set metrics that you can then tackle to create an impact in upcoming months.

Orchestrate for next quarter: Based on the OKRs, create a draft of projects that you would need to tackle. Share this initial draft with an engineer and UX designer counterpart to gather their thoughts. This should lead to a basic plan.

Write your feature concept doc and get buy-in: Whip up simple 1-pager feature specification document for all the projects. Tweak your scope after sharing with respective engineers, data scientists, or designers. Automatically, you get an initial buy-in from both the engineering and design department. Finally, prioritize.

Notify cross-functional teams: Proactively share the next quarter plan with relevant cross-functional teams and clearly state the help you will need from them. An example is for marketing to design copywriting for a new feature launching in next quarter.

Final Thoughts

As much as i think this is not a perfect plan, it has proven to be effective in the past. What I have tried to do is to form a template for anyone to flesh out their own 90 day plan. I hope this helps, and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

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