Case Study: The Role of a Product Owner in Your IT Project


From the point of view of the outsourcing company’s client, the role of a Product Owner is both crucial and difficult. Why?

The Product Owner shapes the vision of the product. On the other hand, they try to maximize its value and use technical resources in such a way as to create a product satisfying the customer’s needs.

I would say that the Product Owner is an ambassador among the developers. They represent you or the specialist working for a software company who may represent the needs of all stakeholders in the Product Backlog. I will discuss here a Case Study of a project in which a client decided to outsource their Product Owner.

Scrum Guide describes main Product Owner’s responsibilities , such as:

  • Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal.
  • Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items.
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible, and understandable.
  • Ordering Product Backlog items.

What does it mean?

Let’s see what it looks like behind the scenes when you decide to entrust the role of the Product Owner to someone from the software house.

1. Defining Project Vision

This obligation requires close cooperation between the customer and the Product Owner.

Product Owner should manage product development from a strategic perspective. This means that they should know what their purpose and goals are, without necessarily having to know the way to it from the very beginning.

To know the purpose of your project, the Product Owner needs to communicate with all the stakeholders, sometimes including your customers, your employees, and your business managers, so everyone involved in product development can present their perspective on the product.

Thanks to this, the Product Owner can confirm whether the objective of the project expressed by the stakeholders is consistent with the business objectives of the company. In the nutshell, the purpose of the product is defined in the product vision and all the knowledge gathered is presented in the form of road maps.

Next, another Product Owner’s responsibility is to communicate the goals to the rest of the Team.

2. Product Backlog Management

This obligation requires regular cooperation.

The Product Backlog is a list of tasks to do. To make the work effective, the Product Owner is responsible for maintaining it. So, they must create stories and tasks for the Team, updating them when it’s necessary.

To create an effective product backlog, they must:

The product backlog can’t be immutable, because it’s not just a suggestion, it’s a signpost. If it is NOT properly maintained and optimised, it will cause inconsistency of work, delays, and confusion. If it happens to you, that means you don’t have a real Product Owner.

Let’s move on to the next responsibility of the Product Owner.

3. Ensuring Backlog’s Transparency

This obligation does not require your effort.

Product Owner must make the backlog accessible to all parties involved in the product development. It means that both the developer and the client should understand it. This is the duty that takes up the most time and requires preparing clear descriptions of intended effects, understandable tasks for developers, and flow characteristics for testers.

And one more responsibility described in the Scrum Guide.

Read more: How to Choose a Tech Stack for Your Next Project?

4. Prioritising the Needs

Product Owner is responsible for prioritising needs according to the scope, time, and your budget, keeping in mind your main objectives. This is quite a difficult task because priorities can change, which is why Product Owner:

Overall, Product Owner must deliver the maximum outcome to achieve goals and missions.

What other responsibilities does the outsourced Product Owner hold?

5. Evaluating Product Progress

Once the priorities are set, a Product Owner should oversee the product throughout the development cycle. So, they are a key player in product development, process refinement, and product review. Their responsibilities are:

Product Owner can inspect and adapt product participating in Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning Meetings, Sprint Reviews, and Retrospectives . Thereby, Product Owner is updated, informed about priorities, and understands the perspective of any impediments.

6. Liaison Between the Teams and the Stakeholders

Outsourced Product Owner role consists of acting as a primary liaison between the Team and the stakeholders to work on:

All relationships should be based on trust between the Product Owner and the stakeholder (client). In my humble opinion, the trust is built on frequent relations, clear messages about the developments, precise communication of needs, demonstrating commitment, suggesting solutions and taking care of the client’s interest.

Establish a Fruitful Cooperation Thanks to the Role of a Product Owner

For cooperation between Stakeholders and outsourced Product Owners to succeed, both parties should respect their decisions and trust each other. The decisions of the Product Owner influence the content, the Product Backlog and Increment at the Sprint Review, whereas Stakeholders’ decisions are necessary when setting the goals. If they manage to find common ground, there’s no stopping them.

Explore All of the Benefits of IT Project Outsourcing

case study for product owner

I believe that anything I do, I do for the end-user. I maximise value by:

- setting a path to the product's goal, helping developers do what they need to do

- frequently inspecting the result of their work to confront assumptions with reality

- adapting to the changing needs of Stakeholders based on feedback and measurable data.

I manage IT products agilely and know how to make your vision a reality. Would you like to work with me?

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Product Manager and Product Owner (Case Study)

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What Are Product Management Case Study Interviews?

Ellen Merryweather

BY: Ellen Merryweather

Updated: January 9, 2023 - 11 min read

What is a Product Management Case Study Interview?

A case study interview, also known as a case interview, is a tool used by many companies to assess a candidate’s analytical, creative, and problem-solving skills. Similar to coding interviews for engineers, they allow the interviewers to simulate a situation that allows your skills to be put into practice.

Quite simply, you’ll be given a situation, and asked to make suggestions or come up with a hypothetical solution or improvement.

In product management, this can be about any number of things. The realm of product managers is vast, and covers many different aspects of product development. As product managers sit at the intersection of business, technology, and design, you could be asked case questions under these umbrellas.

This means that you could be given a case question based on product design, monetization, market research, user segmentation, trends, data, technical development, go-to-market , prioritization…pretty much anything product managers are into!

Example Case Study Interview Questions

What’s your favorite product? How would you improve its design?

Which company do you think we should acquire next?

How would you go about launching our product in an emerging market, say, India?

What new feature would you build for Instagram?

How to Ace a Case Study Interview

two women looking at person across the table

The product design case interview

No, they’re not going to hand you a wacom tablet and ask you to mock up an entire product in the room! Instead, you’ll be asked to think through some solutions to pretty common design problems. Things like:

How would you improve our in-app messenger?

If we tasked you with making our user interface more inclusive of those with disabilities, how would you approach that?

How would you redesign our homepage to make it more appealing for X demographic?

We’re finding that X number of users don’t make it through the entire onboarding process. What would you do/design to fix that?

The key when being asked a question about how you’d improve the company’s product is not to insult it too heavily. Remember, the people who built it are in the room with you, so if you come in hot with “well, for starters, your homescreen is absolutely hideous and needs a complete do-over”, you’re not going to endear yourself to them. A product manager is a diplomat, so be as diplomatic as possible.

Instead of focusing on how you’d fix what you see as glaring problems, try to come up with something that adds to the product. “I think a chatbot in your user onboarding process would help people to navigate through the process. Here’s where I’d implement it…”

How to ace it

Give your hypothesis:

Because everything in product starts with

Lay out your approach

: Briefly summarize what your approach would be, given your hypothesis. Include things like the research you would need to do, and the preparation the team would need to make.

Identify the user:

Companies want user-driven product managers, so definitely make sure you know which user you’re building for.

Describe the solution

: How would you actually build the solution? No need to get too technical if that’s not where your skills lie. If that’s the case, talk about how you’d lead the engineering teams to build the solution.

Suggest testing:

If you’ve got 2 ideas and you’re not sure which one is better, describe both and talk about the test you’d run to discover which one to roll with.

Prioritize features

: Show off your prioritization skills if you’re suggesting more than one feature.

Suggest features for an MVP and plans for a V1 launch:

Finish off by helping the interviewers to visualize what the finished MVP would be like, as well as the plans you’d have for a full release later down the line.

The business-thinking case interview

gray concrete building under blue sky

Business thinking is vital for product managers, as you’re the person that ties what’s being built to the needs of the business. This is why you may be presented with a business problem, so that the interviewer can assess your thought process, and how you approach product strategy.

Business case questions may include things like:

Management wants to build X because a competitor has launched something similar. How would you respond?

If we wanted to move more into the B2B market by launching X, what would you do first?

How would you increase customer adoption for the feature we released last month?

We want to become more product-led in our growth strategy. What recommendations would you make in terms of pricing structure/increasing customer adoption?

Establish market characteristics

: This is especially important if your case question is a go-to-market question. If you’re not sure what the market characteristics are, talk about what you would find out before starting the work.

Layout your approach:

Briefly summarize what your approach would be.

Prioritize your actions:

If you’ve been asked for a step-by-step approach, talk about why you’re doing things in that order.

Provide analysis

: Business decisions require a heavy amount of analysis, so be sure to include some competitor/customer/market analysis.

Make recommendations:

Talk about the end result in a business sense. Instead of getting into the weeds of feature building etc, give a step-by-step approach of how you’d take a new feature to market, or make business-oriented improvements to a product.

Remember that a business-thinking case question requires an answer that would make c-suite happy. Try to think through your answer for the eyes of management. Think about what they care about the most, and tailor your answer around that.

The technical interview

Here, by technical interview, we don’t necessarily mean the tech interviews that engineers can expect to go through. It’s very rare for PMs to be asked technical questions in an interview, unless they’re specifically applying for a technical PM role. You’ll usually get some warning in advance that your technical prowess will be tested, either by the recruiter or a hiring manager.

The chances of being given an in-depth technical case interview (aka, a coding interview ) is rare, so you’re more likely to be asked a few general questions to gauge your technical ability.

Things like:

What’s your experience with X or Y technology?

Do you feel comfortable managing a team of engineers?

Can you explain the most technical project you’ve worked on?

These are questions that you should be able to answer in the room, because they’re based on your direct experience. So you don’t need to put any special level of preparation into their answers.

You may also be asked some technical questions that allow you to show off your technical knowledge, but are open-ended enough that you can still answer even if you’re not very techy. The goal is to gauge how much technical know-how you already have, not to embarrass you and put you on the spot for not having a CS degree.

These questions might include:

What feature do you think we should build next? How should we approach building it?

Would you build X solution in-house, or would you outsource development elsewhere?

What partners do you think we should integrate with next? (eg. Slack, Trello)

These are questions that you can approach in your own way, from a technical perspective if you come from that background, or from a people-management/design/business perspective if you don’t.

Product Managers and Tech Skills…What’s the Deal?

turned on gray laptop computer

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be asked to go through a technical interview, as product managers aren’t the ones who physically build the product. They provide the direction and the insights, and the engineers provide the solutions and the finished product. So what’s gained by seeing how well you can code?

Well, some roles are more technical than others, so obviously in these roles you’d need either a CS degree or a proven record of technical work, like an engineering background.

But for a regular product manager, you’re less likely to be given a technical case interview, and more likely to just be asked a few very general questions to gauge your knowledge.

Check out our guide to coding interviews if you’re getting ready for this type of case interview. Or, if you want to brush up on your tech skills, check out Top 10 Courses for Product Managers .

Give yourself time to think

The worst thing you can do is panic, and rush in with an answer. It’s OK to give yourself time to think. An interview is not a first date, and silences don’t have to be awkward! So pause, and give yourself time to consider your answer before you start.

That’s much better than giving a sub-standard answer that you can’t take back. The interviewer will expect you to need a moment to gather your thoughts, so don’t stress.

Hack: The McKinsey Case Study

Now, you’re bound to go off and do plenty more research on case study interviews, wanting to find out everything you can. So let us give you this secret hack: check out materials for McKinsey case interviews .

“But I want to work at Facebook/Google/Amazon!” we hear you say. “Why would I prep for McKinsey?”

McKinsey is one of the most difficult interviewers out there. Reviews by some previous interviewees makes it seem like the process was designed to help choose the next ruler of Westeros. Their standards are incredibly high, and their case interviews are something that people prep weeks, even months in advance for.

This has a double result for you. One, there are swathes of resources out there specifically to prep for this behemoth of a case interview. Two, if you can give a McKinsey-standard answer to a case interview, you’ll outshine the competition easily!

Practice ahead of time

While you can’t be totally sure what you’ll be asked in a case interview, you can still prepare. They’re not going to ask you about something you know nothing about (eg, if you’re not going to be working on an AI product, they’re not going to ask you about AI.)

The smart thing to do is to practice case interview questions ahead of time. The way to do this is to pick apart the job posting you’re interviewing for, and identify what the main responsibilities are.

Case interview preparation is absolutely essential for acing PM interviews, as you’re bound to be asked a hypothetical question sooner or later in the interview process.

Don’t feel pressured to give a perfect answer

Companies know how much time, research, and information goes into making informed product decisions. So if they’ve asked you to propose a new feature for their product as part of your interview, they’re not looking for something they can actually implement from you. They just want to see how you think, and what your analytical and problem-solving skills are. It’s also a test of your communication skills, seeing how you present yourself and your ideas.

So don’t pressure yourself into giving an answer that’s on par with the work their existing product managers do. That’s like beating yourself up for not running as fast a Usain Bolt when you do your first ever 5K.

Prepping for Product Manager Interviews?

We’ve got you covered! Check out these great resources:

Master The Product Manager Interview Playlist

: We’ve collected together our best talks on acing the Product Management interview, from a look behind the scenes of recruitment, to how to break into the industry.

Check out the entire playlist here

, or enjoy this sample from Google’s Product Manager…

The Ultimate List of Product Manager Interview Questions:

Prepare yourself for every kind of question you could ever hope to be asked in a product manager interview!

Product School Pro:

If you really want to deep-dive into the best interview techniques, and become the master of any interview you walk into, you should check out the exclusive resources we have in our Product School Pro community. We’ve got cheat sheets, templates, and more!

Hired — How to Get a Great Product Job:

Tailored guide-to-go for PM positions in top tech companies. As this book will show you,  some of the most successful product transitions originated from people in music production or finance, with full-time jobs or with no prior experience. The collection of stories of Product Management transition will show you how it’s done.

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Updated: January 9, 2023

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Sushant Kumar

Sep 2, 2019

4 Practice Case-Studies for your Product Management interview

The Case Study round is one of the qualifier rounds for any product manager interviews. It helps recruiters understand your product, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Generally, case studies will have multiple parts to gauge your overall product understanding.

Let’s jump on the sample questions and scenarios

1. Instagram Case-study

Type: New Features, Marketing, Problem-solving, Go-to-market strategies

You have been on-boarded as a Product Consultant for Instagram. In your monthly catchup meeting, you found that businesses or brands pay influencers to post adverts on their profile. Influencers are also generating decent revenue from their followers, but the entire process is happening outside the Instagram platform. Some of the companies who help businesses do this are — Ifluenz , Scrunch , and Pulpkey .

Part 1: New features — Can you build something which can make the entire experience smoother for both brands and influencers? Think from both influencers' and brands' perspectives.

Expectations: - Explain how you would like to solve this problem? - User flow diagram. - Wireframes & Prototypes

Part 2 : Launch Strategies — Let’s say you have got this feature built by your tech team. How would you go about the launch plan?

Expectations: - Explain your launch or Go-to-market strategies for this feature - Write a blog post in around 300 words to be shared with influencers.

2. Lyft Case-study

Type: New Features, Metrics, Problem-solving, Prioritization

You joined Lyft as a Product Manager. You aim to increase the revenue per active rider in the next six months. How would you go about it?

Expectations: List down the improvements in existing features or suggest new features. First, provide a name and a short description of your product features. Then, please select the highest value feature and describe it in detail. - Work on a PRD and wireframes. - Include the metrics that would help you measure whether you are moving towards your goal. - Three years of revenue estimation plan.

3. Google Case-study

Type: Metrics, Data, Business Insights, Product Roadmap

Let’s assume; you joined Google as a Product Manager for a newly launched app Neighbourly . How would you go about planning the 12-month product roadmap?

Expectations - Build a 12-month product roadmap. - Choose the metrics you would track and why. - Come up with a revenue model for this app.

4. LinkedIn Case-study

Type: Data, Metrics, Problem-Solving

You joined LinkedIn as a Product Consultant. You have observed that the newly launched “ Career Advice ” is used by only 5 million users out of their 575 million user base. What would you change and why?

Expectations: - PDF document the proposed solutions and how you would validate your ideas. - List the Data points you would analyse, which lead to your conclusion. - Discuss the success metrics of the proposed solution.

“P.S — These are not actual interview questions. I’ve drafted this based on my personal experience with product management interivews.”

EDIT: I’ve also published the sample solution of one of my case studies —

I’d happily share my reviews and comments if you work on any of these case studies.

More from Sushant Kumar

Product Manager @ Times Internet | ex-DailyNinja | Co-founder @ InternStreet

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Product Discovery Process – A Practical Case Study for Product Owners

What is the Product Discovery process? How does it look in practice? Read this article, to learn the answers.

Katarzyna Owcarz Scrum Master

Table of contents

When using Uber, Tinder, or Wallet, have you ever thought about the trigger point for releasing them on the market? What was this spark that ignited their development?

In the search for ways to manage your product, you might have come across the idea of Product Discovery and its two pillars:

You can read in our previous article on What is Product Discovery in Mobile App Development? that Product Discovery enables teams to target users and decide on the features that are crucial to implement; all in order to launch an attractive product.

However, in this article, I will walk you through a case study of creating a mobile app for teens and show you some practical step-by-step usage of Product Discovery techniques for a mobile application .

What is Product Discovery in mobile app development?

Before we move to a case study, let’s take a quick look back at what Product Discovery is.

In a nutshell, Product Discovery in custom mobile app development is the initial stage of the development journey , when you want to make sure that you know your target audience and that your app fills the gap in the market .

The foundation of Product Discovery is a constant testing of solutions and ideas, as well as learning how to adapt them to the user’s needs. This process should also ensure you that, not only are you aware of the end-users’ needs, but your dedicated team is able to deliver your ideas.

Read also: The Ultimate Guide to Mobile App Development Process in 2021

In the next part of this practical case study for Product Owners we’ll go through the following phases and techniques:

Let’s jump into practice!

To explain how Product Discovery can help your business, I would like to share with you a case study where we will see how to crystalize and test the vision of a product .

Drive Your Product to Success – Free Guide for Digital Product Owners

Even the best team can’t deliver a successful product without proper guidance. If you own a digital product, our Ebook will be a perfect resource for mastering the fundamentals of successful product delivery.

Product Discovery Process: Hustly case study

“Money doesn’t grow on trees!”. I’m sure you remember your old folks’ repeating similar excuses when you asked them for some pocket money. Earning your first money in your first side hustle is usually a nostalgic memory from teenage times. Let’s refer to that story in our case study.

Please meet Tom, a 42-year-old real estate businessman (Product Owner), and Amy, his 16-year-old daughter, a high school student (User).

What’s the matter? Amy is fed up with asking her dad to top up her account every time she goes out with friends. She decides to look for a side hustle to free Tom from weekly pocket money. Working part-time in the cinema or dog-walking didn’t hurt any kid, Tom thinks.

He recommends Amy finds some posts on the job portals he used to visit: or Amy flicks through the lengthy, generic offers with no interest, yawning when browsing unfriendly applications with attachments and dozens of questions. It’s definitely an overkill for a teenage girl to stretch herself in finding a $7 per hour job in the same way her mother is looking for an accountant post.

It’s a great niche in the market, Tom thinks. Why not solve his daughter’s and her peers’ problem on the way?

Tom wants to do some research and test the waters. Where should he start? How can he share these ideas with others? Tom has experience with real estate but not IT. Will investing capital in a mobile app bring him more profits than flipping another property?

It’s time for the prep before the journey!

So, let’s try to help Tom define the problem areas and go through the Product Discovery phase in order to find the best solution.

1. Target potential users and their problems: Persona

Firstly, as Tom spotted a niche, he needs to properly describe the target:

A persona is a simple tool to identify who our target users are. By answering the questions within their profile, we dig into their perspective and mindset. Empathy is the key to understanding their current journey and their feelings behind it.

It is not necessarily true that the more profiles of potential users you define the better. Try to focus on the median: what is the average user like?

Tom knows his daughter pretty well, so he could easily fill out her profile

Personal background: familiar with mobile apps, active on social media, loves the online experience of products that are simple and intuitive for users.

Goals: She wants to be independent from her parents and find a side job to replace her pocket money. She does not want to fill up long applications and would prefer to find the job on the spot, just as she does it with a good cafe.

Current journey: She needs to scroll through dull formal job portals and send lengthy CVs and cover letters.

Feelings: She is frustrated, bored, and impatient to find a good match.

Tom did a couple of more interviews with his daughter’s peers and collected some more observations.

Get a Printable User Persona Template

Download for free

2. Define the profile of your product: Product Canvas

As Tom knows who the target user is and what their needs are, it’s time to define the initial picture of the product to help others understand what’s on Tom’s mind. The Product Canvas is a simple tool to collect basic information about your product. As a starting point, it helps you to review and validate your approach. Here’s an example of such a brief:

Let your audience know your product vision by providing the following information: name, business goal, purpose, metrics, target group, and a big picture description of the product.

Tom meets up with his business partner Mark and shares the vision of a mobile application that will be targeted at searching for a teen job.

He portrays the idea of an app that he wants to call Hustly (a reference to side hustles ). It could connect American teens looking for some side hustles with companies looking for part-time, underqualified workers.

The target group? Teens and company owners.

How are they going to earn money? Ads and fees for promoting the posts.

After brainstorming and checking pockets, his friends turn on the green light and start the project. Mark recommends Tom contact and consult a chosen software house regarding the next steps.

Get a Printable Product Canvas Template

3. Ideate solutions: Event storming

Having spare capital, time, and effort to invest, this is the point you should confront your initial idea with the next steps of Product Discovery. One of the tools that can help you out with ideating a solution is Event Storming.

It is a flexible workshop format where everyone can participate, while a facilitator keeps the group focused and engaged.

The group is guided to progress toward a complete model of the business domain. For this purpose, we may only need a board and sticky notes or a Miro board (online collaborative platform).

Participants start with domain events, which means collecting anything that can happen in the application.

So, after brainstorming and finalizing the Personas and Product Canvas, Tom decides to confront his ideas with mobile app experts. He goes to a befriended software house to conduct a Product Discovery workshop . It’s time to engage domain experts, namely Developers, Designers, Business Analysts, and Testers, all of which will help Tom with reviewing the business idea behind Hustly .

The whole team uses sticky notes to write down all the possible scenarios from the user’s perspective that they could think of. From logging in and entering personal data, to adding reviews, subscribing, and receiving alerts, everything can be considered. The team walks through the model forwards and backwards to ensure that everything is covered.

At this phase, there are no stupid ideas, as all options should be considered. Participants add the commands, or triggers, that cause the events, and analyze users, external systems, and the order of events. The facilitator helps to identify bounded contexts and create a context map.

The technical and business domain experts are there to share experience and provide you with scenarios you might not have thought of. It’s time to explore the unlimited possibilities and define the bounded contexts that contribute to the features of your application.

4. Prototype and review ideas: User Journey Mapping

The model created in the Event Storming is a starting point for the next exercise to visualize the product. In order to prototype the app that is on your mind, Designers will use another tool: User Journey Mapping. This is one of the best tools to develop human-centric designs. User Journey Mapping visualizes how a user interacts with a product and allows you to see the product from their perspective. Ultimately, it leads to a better user experience.

Tom leaves the board with sticky notes and moves on to explore the application from the next angle. Designers pick markers and start drafting the first screens of Hustly .

With the support of the whole team, customer journey scenarios appear on the board. By filling up simple templates, the application slowly materializes. Tom can slowly see how his app could look and behave.

5. Narrow down the ideas: Wireframes

A more detailed approach and a common follow-up to User Journey Mapping, is creating wireframes.

The same screen can be built in a lot of different ways, but only a few of them will get your message across correctly and result in a positive user experience. Devising a good interface structure is possibly the most important part of designing software. Creating wireframes before any code is written and before the visual design is finalized will save you lots of time and painful adjustment work later.

This part is also a test for your pocket.

Usually, after workshops, Product Owners are provided with estimated costs of developing each feature. It might turn out to be impossible to implement all the features that you thought about due to your budget limitations.

After collecting positive feedback on Hustly , Tom decides to follow up with more detailed prototyping.

The chosen software development company offers 100 hours of their UX/UI Designers’ time to prepare wireframes. For around two months, Tom works closely with Designers to implement the best solutions for the functional and visual part of the application.

However, while 100 hours of a designer’s time is not enough to have the final designs, it is sufficient to end up with a prototype that could be presented to the target users. So Tom sends up a clickable prototype to all the teen and college relatives he has in order to collect feedback and adapt improvements on the spot.

His fellow users are enthusiastic about the idea of Hustly , so he ultimately decides to move on and reach out to the Software House he’s been working with so far.

6. Prioritize and plan: MVP

We are slowly reaching the final part of Product Discovery, where it is highly recommended to start the prioritization and planning of the first version.

One of the most essential concepts of building a successful mobile application is the crystallization of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) .

It is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early users who can provide feedback for future upgrades of the application. The sky’s the limit in your roadmap but taking the first step on the market as soon as possible is crucial.

Tom decides that the first version of Hustly will hold only the basic features related to posting and responding to a job offer. Logging in will only be possible via email, using a very generic user profile. He also decides to reduce the audience to iOS users.

Teen customers will need to wait for social media integration and notifications in the next releases. The MVP will allow Tom to get to know the market better.

Read also: Guide for Product Owners: “Drive your Product to Success”

7. Test and collect feedback: Interviews

Having an MVP on the market is a great opportunity to test your target users, collect feedback and adapt your roadmap to their needs. At this point, another customer experience tool might come in handy: Empathy interviews. This is an approach to finding out as much as possible about a person’s experience as a “user”. We want to understand the choices that people make and why they make them.

Properly tailored interviews are a massive business tool and provide valuable insights to product development.

Hustly has been downloaded in the first week by around one thousand high school and college students. The First ratings and reviews have appeared on AppStore.

However, Tom asked his daughter to collect more detailed feedback on the user experience, which apparently became his daughter’s first hustle job.

Product Discovery process – wrap-up

The Product Discovery process and tools that I introduced you to in this article are just a suggestion. There are plenty of alternative approaches on the market. However, whichever method you choose, the key deliverables of Product Discovery should be:

The more information and feedback you have, the better for you. If you understand it and use it to your benefit, the chances of success for your product are higher.

I hope that, after reading this guide, you know WHY it’s important to run a Product Discovery, WHEN it should happen and HOW you ought to implement it.

Side note: Hustly is a made-up story, but I hope there are many Toms out there willing to discover some successful apps.

References: , , , .

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Katarzyna Owcarz

Scrum Master

Katarzyna Owcarz is a certified Scrum Master (PSM I), with 5 years of experience. Previously, she was a Product Manager using the Waterfall framework, but then she met Agile and fell in love. Totally. In her job, Kasia most enjoys supporting the team in delivering value. One of her superpowers is the ability to shorten the distance between people, so they feel as one team (both a development team and a PO). A great fan of Sprint Retrospectives and Liberating structures. Squash player and a passionate traveler.

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How to solve a product manager case study in 4 simple steps.

Richard Chen

case study for product owner

We cannot emphasize the importance of Product Manager case studies in interviews enough. Companies rely heavily on this step to assess your critical thinking and problem-solving skills as it closely mirrors the day-to-day activities. However, you don’t have to be a Product Manager with years of experience to come up with impressive case studies that will get you hired. Like the job itself, a Product Manager case study should be situational and contextual—getting it right is about tailoring your answer to the company you are interviewing for and the context behind the question. 

So, how do you make sure you hit the nail on the head? There are four steps to solving the Product Manager case study. Our case study instructors recommend the following: 

From startup case studies to whiteboarding questions, this guide will take you through everything you need to know about tackling the notorious product management case study using these simple steps. Practice this approach with the various examples we provide and you should be ready to ace your next Product Manager case study interview .

How to Approach the Product Manager Case Study 

Let’s say that an e-commerce furniture company wants to implement a feature: free returns. Take a minute to think about this case study question . How would you go about implementing this? What is your first step?

If there’s one thing we know from working with thousands of aspiring Product Managers, it’s that more than 90% of the candidates fail the product manager case study interview one way or another. And not because the candidates lacked the required skills! Like we mentioned above, a successful case study is tailored to the situation and context. 

Before we dive in, here are some pointers you should remember to get you into the right frame of mind as you tackle the case study assignment you are given. 

Ask Questions 

This is where to start: Always approach a case study assignment with the assumption that you know nothing. Never dive into solving the problem with little to no information on it. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer everything you need to: 

Making assumptions could lead you down the wrong path, but on the other hand, remember that being a Product Manager involves solving ambiguous real-life issues. Keep calm and creatively and strategically acquire more information for clarity of the situation. You’ll be one step ahead of fellow candidates.

Prepare for Anything 

Many novice candidates believe that the case study round always involves a take-home assignment, which would allow them to do extensive research on the question at hand. But while take-home assignments do come up often enough, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Prepare for your case study interview to involve on-the-go questions. You should also expect to whiteboard and solve problems on the fly during the interview. When that’s the case you’ll have only seconds — or minutes if you’re lucky — instead of days to tackle the problem.

There Is More Than One Correct Answer

The Product Manager case study interview is a way for companies to evaluate your problem-solving skills. They want to see how you identify product users, measure product performance, navigate technical aspects, and so on. You can demonstrate these competencies with a variety of answers.

Don’t Spend More Time Than You Need To

The take-home Product Manager case study can be especially time-consuming and you might spend all your time working on these assignments if you don’t have support . Remember that job hunting is a numbers game and allocate your time and effort accordingly.

Need more time to prepare for your next case study interview? Take your prep to the next level with this video by Product Gym co-founder Cody Chang:

How to Solve Any Product Manager Case Study in 4 Simple Steps

Without further ado, here are the four steps you need to follow to solve your Product Manager case study:

Step 1: Evaluate the Need

To understand the need in the Product Manager case study, you need to ask a series of questions. Here are a few of them to get you started:

Essentially, you need to figure out the bounds and constraints of this question.

You may not be an industry expert on the business that your interviewer is in, or you may lack that domain knowledge. So in order to create an informed answer, you have to know what your answer is not .

Step 2: Validate the Need

You have to start on the pre-question. Let’s take the example of a furniture e-commerce company.

Some of the questions you would ask yourself are: 

When you focus on these unknowns, what you’re really focusing on is time and resources. This gets into the business side of asking questions. If you are not a domain expert in furniture e-commerce or are not familiar with their business model to give a nuanced response, what are these Product Managers looking for in your answer?

The company you are interviewing with is likely operating in another domain that you are not familiar with. That’s okay. As long as you can lay out the roadmap for your product with sound reasoning, you’ll be good to go.

Step 3: Set a Goal for the Feature

In this specific example, you want to focus on time and resources, which is money. This means explicitly profitability . What are all the areas that might factor into profitability? Here are some questions to consider:

Check out these guides to help you determine the essential metrics for your company’s business and the product you are developing:

Step 4: Decision-Making

Based on the business requirements, how do you want to evaluate these unknowns? The rabbit hole of questions can go on and on. You may need to spend these resources and push back the engineering deadline. Is the company okay with that?

It also depends on how you communicate “Yes” or “No” answers. If you say, “Yes, I want to prioritize this feature,” then know your reasons:

Or, if you say “No,” have your reasons why to address the same areas:

These are all moving parts that you want to evaluate and then communicate to the PM interviewing you in the Product Manager case study. The best thing to do when you ask these questions is to get specific. Use examples of times when you had to make these decisions yourself based on these factors.

Remember to communicate competency on how you evaluate whether or not you implement a feature. Ask questions to create constraints and boundaries to the case study, and control its scope. Once you have this information, you will know how to best approach the questions based on the Product Management knowledge you possess.

BONUS Step: Get Your Case Study Presentation Reviewed by a Professional

You’ve worked through the case study and put your solution into a slide deck to present to a panel of interviewers: congratulations! But if you want to go above and beyond to impress the hiring team, take some time to get your case study solution reviewed by a professional.

A fresh set of eyes may catch typos and grammar errors, but will also be able to point out the areas where you can improve the solution overall. A Product Manager who’s gone through multiple case study interview rounds is going to be able to assess your solution from the perspective of the interviewer and use their experience to help you polish it.

At Product Gym, our interview coaches routinely check over members’ case study presentations, offering insight, constructive criticism, and tips on how to make their technical interview round a success. Solving case studies isn’t just a good practice for acing your interview — it’s also an excellent way to develop applicable Product Manager skills. That’s why we include classes on case studies in our program. Our case study curriculum was developed and continues to be taught by Senior Product Manager for Atlassian, Roman Kolosovskiy .

Because we’ve been working with Product Manager job hunters for the past five years, we’ve had ample opportunity to test and perfect the case study strategy we teach our members. We’ve even compiled a bank of case study prompts that aspiring Product Managers have received in their interviews so that members can exclusively access to hone their problem-solving and storytelling skills.

What to Expect from a Product Manager Case Study at a Startup 

The type of company you are interviewing for is a key consideration when determining the context for your case study. It’s highly likely that you will interview for a Product Manager position at a startup—there were 30.7 million startups in the US in 2019, and the numbers will only keep growing.

No doubt, the expectations, and responsibilities differ immensely in a startup role as compared to being an enterprise PM.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when interviewing for a PM position with a startup: 

So how do you show your interviewer that you are ready to take on the challenge?

1. Demonstrate Fast Execution

First and foremost, you should show that you are quick when making decisions and taking action. Unlike established companies, you will not have many tools or practices to help you make decisions and organize your and your team’s tasks. You should be comfortable with communicating decisions and last-minute action items with the rest of your team.

2. Be Ready to Take Risks

Executing decisions takes a sense of responsibility and ownership, which brings us to our second point. As a Product Manager, you should be a leader who isn’t afraid of taking risks. When needed, you should be ready to take the driver’s seat. There is no doubt that your responsibility will exceed a single product, and you will soon be expected to come up with ideas that will impact the whole company.

3. Prove You Can Multitask

Limited resources mean you may find yourself wearing different hats. For example, you might not have a UX designer and end up designing the wireframes yourself. Regardless of the situation, get ready to prove to them that you can multitask. How do you show this skill in your Product Manager case study? 

4. Learn About the Company

A case study assignment is a simulation of the real job, especially in startup interviews. Leverage it to learn as much about the company as possible. Assess how they treat you and try to figure out how the company culture is.

Are they ignoring your emails and acting like you don’t exist? Or are they making a genuine effort to make the interview work for you despite the lack of resources? Are you expected to solve a complex case study on the go during an interview?

Answering these questions can give you a good feel of your possible future employer.

5. Prioritize, Prioritize, and Prioritize

As we mentioned, startup companies operate with minimal resources and are under a lot of stress. So, remember to focus on the essential features needed to create a fully functional MVP ready for the market in the least amount of time.

Make some realistic estimations and come up with numbers to help your interviewers with the budget, resources, and time you need to create this product. Roadmap the steps required to get to the MVP and clearly define everybody’s responsibilities to build it.

How to Solve Whiteboarding Case Study Questions in 4 Steps

Along with the commonly assigned take-home assignment and the presentation that follows, the product management case study is notorious for its technical and whiteboarding interview questions. Here are four simple steps our instructors developed to help you master the dreaded whiteboarding interview questions in your case study round.

Step 1: Keep Calm and Embrace the Fact that You Know Nothing

Most aspiring PMs fail the Product Manager case study not because they do not have experience, but because they panic over a lack of information. 

In practice, Product Managers rarely have enough information about the problem they were asked to solve. Having seen many candidates interview, we can confirm that interviewees often disqualify themselves by showing the interviewer that they are not ready to tackle ambiguous real-life issues.

So, remember to keep calm and accept the fact that you have insufficient information about the problem that’s thrown at you.

Step 2: Try to Understand What the Question Wants You to Achieve

Companies ask whiteboarding interview questions to see if you can create or improve a product that can accomplish a specific goal. When you take on any product management case study question, start by taking a step back. Think about what the question wants you to accomplish.

In most cases, you should be able to divine the purpose of the question from how the interviewer forms it. Our case study instructors have identified four specific purposes: 

Determining the purpose behind vague questions and finding the right approach to address them requires a lot of focused practice with real case study questions.

Step 3: Nar row Down the Question as Much as Possible

You need to narrow down the case study questions as much as possible to come up with some real and data-driven conclusions. Given that you have little to no resources available to you, you have to make some realistic estimations. Accurate estimations are only possible if you get to the heart of the question.

Think it through and ask as many questions as you need.

Step 4: Keep the Conversation Alive

Communication is an essential part of the case study interview: you should keep your interviewer informed about every aspect of your thought process. After you identify the whiteboarding question’s purpose, clearly inform your interviewer what direction you want to take and your reasoning.

Check your reasoning with your interviewer by asking them if this is something on their mind or if this is something they would consider. In most cases, they would either have an answer key or a direction on their mind and would be able to help you.

Once you agree on the direction you take, ask more specific questions to extract as much information as possible and get a confidence vote from the interviewer that you are on the right track.

Last but not least, make your interviewer’s life easier by suggesting options and giving details while asking questions. See how we used these four steps to work through a Facebook Product Manager Case Study question: Should Facebook enter the dating market?

Product Manager Case Study Presentation Best Practices

You have worked hard and finally finished your Product Manager case study assignment, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax—your case study presentation is as vital as solving the question.

Not only is it the time to demonstrate your excellent communication skills, but a good presentation shows your interviewers how you collaborate. Here’s a breakdown of how to give a winning presentation:

List of Product Manager Case Study Question Examples

Before we dive into the most common examples of Product Manager case study interview questions , let’s solve one together. Check out how our Case Study Instructor, Roman Kolosovski, tackles the popular FAANG case study question “How would you build a product for pet owners?”:

1. Product Design Case Study Questions

These are the most common types of questions. They range from designing a product from scratch to improving an existing product. Some questions will explicitly tell you to focus on a specific OKR, while others will leave everything ambiguous to challenge you to think more.

Product Design Question Examples

2. Product Strategy Questions 

Unlike product design questions, strategy questions require you to think about the bigger picture. You’ll either be asked to find ways to make a product better—and hence define success for the product, or to complete the overall organization more successfully. 

To solve these questions, you need to be well informed about the company and its products or services. Consider the company’s business model, competitors, and the recent developments in that industry. The essential skill you need to demonstrate here is analytical thinking.

Product Strategy Question Examples

3. Estimation and Analysis Questions 

These are used by interviewers to measure how comfortable you are making decisions with limited data, so show them how you use data to derive the KPIs you need for your product. These questions are mostly asked during the interview. To solve them without internet access is only possible by learning the fundamental values of the company beforehand. This includes the revenue it makes or the approximate number of users it has. You should also be able to calculate their critical KPIs.

Estimation and Analysis Case Study Question Examples

4. Scheduling/Operational Questions 

These types of case study interview questions are few and far between. Interviewers ask these questions to assess the candidates’ ability to turn ideas into deliverable tasks. Note that for most operational Product Manager case study questions, the interviewer will require you to write a detailed delivery schedule and write user stories and tasks.

Scheduling/Operational Case Study Question Examples

Product Manager Case Study FAQs

The short answer is yes. You should always have a couple of screen designs ready for your case study interview. Why? It’s probably the best way to spark any reaction from the interviewing committee. Plus, it’s also way more comfortable for your audience to understand what your product looks like with a solid prototype. 

Given that it’s not your job to develop the actual design, low fidelity seems more appropriate. That being said, the bar for low fidelity designs has been relatively high over the past couple of years. So, low fidelity designs are more than pen and paper sketches: they are expected to be digital.

Detail the solution you came up with a presentation that states:  Here is what the solution is. Here is what the solution looks like. Here is how a user would go through the process within this solution.

There are four common types of Product Manager case study questions:  Product design questions  Product strategy questions  Estimation and analysis questions Scheduling/operational questions

Unlike larger companies, startups do not have as many tools and resources at their disposal. This means that not many will have a recruiting team or a full-fledged HR strategy and are interviewing as they go. Many Product Gym members that have taken the startup route have noted how disorganized the Product Manager interview process can get at a startup, so prepare for some confusion. No matter the size of the company, be sure to assess how they treat you and try to figure out how the company culture is in the process.

Put Your Product Manager Case Study Skills to the Test

Put your case study skills to the test with our free online training course. Access to instructor-led whiteboarding sessions with real FAANG interview qu estions to take your prep to the next level.

Don’t forget to call us for free career coaching to learn more about how Product Gym can help you land the Product Manager job of your dreams!

Thing I Wish More Candidates Asked in Product Management Interviews

The One Thing I Wish More Candidates Asked in Their Product Management Interviews

Product Manager vs Technical Program Manager vs Producer

Product Manager vs Technical Program Manager vs Producer

Thing I Wish More Candidates Asked in Product Management Interviews

Product Gym vs Pathrise

Thing I Wish More Candidates Asked in Product Management Interviews

Getting a PM Job with no PM Experience

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