Not Your Average Study Hall: Insights from Intercom’s Product Manager Mark Andrews

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At Galvanize, we’re putting a whole new spin on Study Hall with monthly, members-only sessions. At every Study Hall, industry all-stars present on one of three topics –– growth, funding, or product –– and collaborate with Galvanizers to spur innovation, solve problems, and harness the power of our dynamic startup community.

Recently, our San Francisco campus had the honor of hosting a Product Study Hall with Mark Andrews, Director of Product Management at Intercom. Mark’s resume reads like a who’s who of tech power players; He’s worked as a product manager for Airbnb, Twitter, and Google, and was a part of founding teams behind Google Fiber and Google Wallet.

The Study Hall session began with a member asking for a breakdown of Intercom’s product team.

Intercom’s R&D team is extensive –– so large that it takes up 50% of the entire company, with 130+ employees! While the Growth team is very much focused on the business side (tools, systems, marketing, and support), the Product team is divided into six different roles: Acquire, Engage, Support, Platform, Channels, and DX (developer experience).

Within this framework, the role of the Product Manager is to create an “Intermission” document, required for every major project or for work that will take more than one week to complete.

The Study Hall audience spent almost an hour dissecting the structure, process, and goals of this document, with the results broken down below.

In every Intermission, the Product Manager outlines the following:

  1. The Problem: A three-paragraph summary of the issue being addressed, accompanied by qualitative & quantitative research
  2. User Stories:  A one-paragraph overview of the “why”; what is the impact of the problem on customers?
  3. Key Success Metrics: This varies based on product and project. An example would be “number of new customers acquired” or “decrease in UX-related issues”.
  4. Scope: The PM defines the dimension of the problem for engineers and designers, to better illustrate its size and impact. Mark noted here that he believes the best ratio for success is one PM to every five engineers.

Many attendees saw immense value in the Intermission method, as it serves as a “checks and balances” for the PM and helps teams efficiently and effectively prioritize and address problems.

“Mark Andrews has definitely been one of my favorite Study Hall speakers. He is a seasoned product person and a great communicator. I was inspired by his Intermission process and have since followed up with him to learn more about his approach.” – Bruno Wong, Galvanize San Francisco Member, and CEO of Orchard

From early-stage entrepreneurs to established founders, Galvanize Members at every stage of their careers will benefit from the insights shared at our Study Halls.

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