Technology Decisions - Part One, Basics

Week of November 18, 2019
Monday, Nov 18, 3:30-5:00pm
Wednesday, Nov 20, 3:30-5:00pm

Guest instructor: Sam Clemens, Accomplice VC

In this session we will review technology fundamentals and considerations for planning your product development. This is part one of a two-part topic; the second one being hiring developers based on your technology decisions and product requirements. We will cover more on that topic in the Nov 25 session.

Required Reading

  1. 10 Tech Terms Even Non-Geeks Should Know - Benjy Weinberger

  2. Top Five Technical Skills Every PM Should Know - Colin Lernell

  3. Getting to technical enough as a product manager - Lulu Cheng

  4. What is Kubernetes - Kubernetes.io

  5. Native vs. Web vs. Hybrid Apps, What’s the Difference? - Gigvy

  6. The Top 5 Software Architecture Patterns: How to Make The Right Choice - Peter Wayner

Recommended Reading

  1. Resources for learning CS Basics Online  - Mike Goes Coding

  2. TechnicalDebtQuadrant - Martin Fowler

  3. Cloud Computing Introduction - Chris Woodford

  4. Industry icon, Joel On Software, has a great reading list you should bookmark as a founder/PM.

  5. The Mythical Man Month is a classic read for anyone in the tech industry. While somewhat dated, it is great historical context.

Minor Deliverables:

Recognizing the time necessary to complete the following team assignments, we are giving you two full weeks to complete them all. The first two are subsets of your PRD. The final one is for an in-class exercise on Nov 25. Post a link to each of these minor deliverables in the Assignment Master tab “Nov 22 - T&H Plan” by 5:00pm Friday, November 22.

  1. Technology Plan: Write a one-pager describing the technology decisions you’re making as you begin to consider product implementation. These could include areas like the importance of application performance and reliability for your product, privacy and security, and/or the perceived technical complexity of your near and long-term solution (e.g. does it use machine learning?). This could result in decisions around deployment (e.g. in the cloud), platform (web / native mobile), database / storage, etc. Technical decisions are inevitable and if they aren’t considered and deliberate may cause problems for you down the road. Conversely, more strategic or well-considered technical decisions can help drive near and long-term product success. This is a first draft of the Information and Software Architecture section of your PRD. 

  2. Engineering Cost Plan: Using this sample Engineering Costs template from the Trellis team (‘17) as a reference, begin to estimate the cost of building your app. This is a first draft of the product build expense item in the Projected Cost section of your PRD. 

  3. Job Description: Whether you are starting your own company or working as a PM, you will likely be involved with the developer hiring process. Write a developer Job Description (JD) for your project. For those continuing on with us in PM102, this is a first draft of the JD you will use to hire a developer in the spring. We will select 2-3 JDs for critique in the Nov 25 session. Look for more details on the 11/25 session in Canvas.

Session Prep: 

  1. Bring any questions your team has for Julia, Christina and/or Sam about tech decisions or cost estimation for your product.

  2. We will have 3 team critiques in this session. Selected teams will be notified by Friday, Nov 15 at 5pm. These will be “open crits” where teams can ask for one piece of feedback of their choice.

Lab Prep: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this will be our last lab of the semester! We will use the time for open crits - please let Christina know if you want 10 minutes for feedback on anything - and the rest of the time will be for teams to work on their PRDs.

Julia Austin, Senior Lecturer

Harvard Business School

Rock Center 115