In Dcard, the Associate Product Manager (APM) usually works with the Product Director and Senior Product Manager to clarify operating strategies, ideate future development directions, set clear execution goals for each product stage, and of course, collaborate with project teams to carry out product ideas at the same time.
APM can approach PM coach and mentor for assistance when they encounter difficulties, learning while executing a project step by step, and become a more experienced product manager (PM)! Today we’ve invited Dcard’s current APM — Jonas & Sylvie — to share their experiences of becoming an APM.
Before becoming an APM
I served as the vice president of the student council, mainly in charge of helping to promote the progress of each group and giving advice when I was an undergraduate. Its duties were quite similar to those of an APM, which sparked my interest in the PM role. No matter when I was the vice president or an APM, I usually played an auxiliary role in the team, leading everyone to discuss and promote the progress of the project.
What I’ve studied has nothing to do with PM, so I wanted to find a marketing-related job when I first graduated. However due to my huge interest in PM, and the finding of marketing was my specialty but not what I loved, made me eventually decided to give up the industry. Luckily, I just happened to see that Dcard had opened the APM position, in addition, I was already a user of Dcard, so nothing has resisted me to submit my resume. That’s how I become a partner of Dcard : )
I was also a PM before joining Dcard. I started to explore the career direction of product management without knowing my enthusiasm to be a PM at the beginning. When I first graduated, I only knew I wanted to develop an interest in the design thinking field, that’s why I was trying UX-related jobs. I was working on a side project with my friends at that time and was responsible for UX research and some design parts. However, my lack of sharpness in design led me to hesitate when it comes to two different design solutions, I can hardly give a solid reason for choosing one of them. I think I can do better decisions if there were data to support my analysis and judgment.
To try other jobs related to design thinking, I interned at a consultancy firm that put efforts into user experience strategy. For me, it was interesting to help clients solve problems and learn a lot of coping methods in the meanwhile. But I had little chance to verify the feasibility of the solutions or get feedback from the client after implementation, this sometimes let me down.
The only option left out was product manager. I found that the PM post satisfied my career pursuit after gave it a try. For the reasons that I fell in love with the job as a PM, not only because solving the problem and using data to support my ideas are my concerns, but instantly feedback is also given by running an online project.
I did a lot of filtering for choosing the industry as entry at the time. Since I wanted to involve in an industry with more up-to-date and data-based, so I turn to exploring Direct-to-Customer industry. With these criteria, the choices were scoped down and I found Dcard!
What does APM do?
Jonas & Sylvie: Our main work can be divided into two big parts:
- Untwist entangled situations to clarify project goals;
- Communicate and collaborate with buddies from different departments (e.g. engineers, designers, data analysts, etc)
Mentors and PM coaches will help us on setting short, medium and long-term goals, the duration of each stage will also be adjusted according to our status to cultivate Senior PM by driving us learning through every stages from drawing out product strategies, conducting quantitative and qualitative research, to carry out own ideas on our product.
APM’s Daily Planning
Jonas & Sylvie: We started by mastering the projects we usually encounter in the company to establish a framework of PM’s work, such as the process of product development, understanding of OKR or framework of BCG consulting thinking, etc.
Attending PM’s regular meetings is also part of our daily. Dcard’s PM team will spend half an hour every morning as Daily Sync, our days will only start after following up on those projects in progress to ensure every aspect of them, from big concept to design details, is taken into account. In addition, Dcard separates the PM team into two: the first curve group the second curve, which promotes products through two perspectives.
The first curve group is in charge of consolidating and optimizing Dcard’s existing products, while the second curve group helps the team to curate new projects and expand product development. These two groups will hold Weekly Sync separately to track the progress of each project. Besides, you can also seek help from your PM coach or mentor on how to better communicate with the designer, how clarify your requests, etc.
As for the mid-term, we will start to lead projects on our own! The mentor and PM coach will decide when can us take over a project team depending on our conditions. And it’s time to apply what you have learned in the early stage of working, through implementation, we got the chance to cross-check our interpretation with the actual thought of PM, in the meantime build up the ability to break down context.
Jonas & Sylvie: The team is always willing to offer resources when we encounter hardship to ensure we become more experienced PMs.
For us, PM coaches and mentors are more likely a supporting role. Regarding avoiding limiting our imagination, they tend to guide us instead of giving us solutions. Through setting broader goals and directions for use with mind-mapping (also our most used method), drawing out smaller yet feasible goals, brainstorming new ideas, more use our insights to stuff full the project.
Think about product from indicators
Jonas & Sylvie: It’s difficult to measure the outcome based on the goals we set, moreover, each product derives from a different database. Under these conditions, we convert targets to indexes, so that each product manager normally would carry different indicators based on their project, these indexes reflect our performances.
To clarify the ambiguous goals, we usually break them down, for example, if we aim to grow daily active members (DAM), we can start with analyze the various ways to grow DAM, break them down into attract new users and increase the retention rate of existing members. For each of these, what needs to be done? What elements are needed? What is still lacking? We use mind maps to resolve the problem layer by layer to reach the needs to achieve the goal.
PM coaches and mentors will check on us regularly to make sure our concepts are still staying on track after a period of training through assigning homework., for instance, retrieving a set of data or writing a SQL. To prevent wrong knowledge that may lead to unexpected consequences, our coaches will examine the assigned homework. As the project goes on, they will regularly check on project content with us, to keep track of working on directions, so that we won’t have to start the project from scratch to hatch when mistakes occur.
What are Jonas and Sylvie doing now?
Jonas: Currently, I am responsible for members’ growth, thinking about how to attract new members and improve the retention rate of members. It’s important to APM that able to resolve issues and sort them out when there is no specific answer to the question. In general, I’ll first try planning directions and goals by mind mapping and thinking from the users’ point of view, to better understand the mental and physical obstacles that users might encounter using the product, and their intentions, to draw out the context of the fuzzy problem in order to achieve the goal while creating value.
Sylvie: I’m now in charge of an image-related project, the core is helping Dcard acquires more rich and diverse content. In the initial stage of the project, I will first think about the existing problems in the list, then discuss with the design team on optimizing the issue. I will sync with my mentor during the progress of the project, one is to preserve the possible risk, and another is to set concrete key performance indicators. When it comes to the mid-term of the project, a review will be done to check if the solutions fit the initial problems and have a discussion with the engineering team on the feasibility of implementation and scheduling the plans, to reach the goal of each stage.
Things to learn in Dcard
Sylvie: The most unique thing about Dcard is, the product has accumulating a great amount of users and 10-years experience in operation, which allowed me to learn more about business intelligence. I’m able to observe the data as a whole, and running an A/B test can also be discussed from various aspects. From the experience of assessing product performance with the BI team, I can make sure what I’ve learned actually helps the foundation of detailed data, this consolidates the learning process.
Besides, Dcard includes talents from many different fields, developing a product is not only the coordination of different teams, it’s also important to avoid conflict by communicating with the teams, I found it interesting as well when it comes to the discussion with the oversea team. It provided me with chances to learn the differences between launching the same product but in different countries and places. It’s a special experience for me to know how to attract different nations or which parts need to be adjusted or reinforced on our products.
Jonas: As Dcard developed, more and more users have been using the product, and we are also aware that the public welfare and social value that we can bring to society. I’ve learned not only to consider the increase of user stickiness but also to think of improving social value when I am involve in product development and anticipate seeing the product bring impacts to society, which made me think more deeply.
Favourite part after joining Dcard?
Jonas: I am actually concerned about the iteration of perspectives and learning quite a lot, while Dcard is an inclusive working place, I’ve learned a lot from the discussion with PM. Whether it’s different insights, discourse, or diverse observations about the product, it’s always my favorite thing in Dcard : )
Sylvie: After becoming Dcard buddies, the most interesting thing I found in my work was doing user interviews due to Dcard’s large user base and many products. During the interviews, I actually receive a lot of feedback from users with different backgrounds, which allowed me to compare their thoughts on products, clarify the issue they actually pay attention to, turn it into research data, and share it with the team to bring out the ways to improve our products.
As for the happiest part of Dcard’s life, it’s definitely the Remote Day on Wednesday and Thursday! Working remotely really saves a lot of commuting time, not only to make up for sleep but also to work in a better condition. The home atmosphere also allows me to focus more on the details of the project and work more smoothly!
We’re looking for our next APM!
Dcard has designed an Onboarding Program for APM to gradually help them grow into PM who can independently lead teams, set product strategies and project directions, and conduct qualitative and quantitative research.
As an APM at Dcard, you can create a service that for you and your friends, there will be plenty of room for your strategies and ideas that are long-waited to implement! If you also want to show your impact, plan the future development of the product together, and are well-prepared to keep breaking through yourself in the rapidly changing internet ecosystem, then join us!
Let’s take on more challenges together and become the workforce that creates millions of traffic 👉