Next AMA: On Product Management [with Shashank Mehta of Razorpay]

How does your day to day look like.
And what different things (ad-hoc basis) come in the midst of product management.
How PM role differs for a big organisation vs small organisation.

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We follow annual targets in the form of OKRs and quarterly roadmap. Process is largely what I’m describing below. It’s tough to cover all the nuances on the go but I’ll call out some key aspects

  • Information Gathering
    One of the advantages of B2B over B2C is that clients are very vocal with their requirements. Our PMs go on a lot of client meetings to get first hand understanding of what is needed. We also conduct brainstorming sessions with our sales team, account management team, support team etc. since they are client facing.
  • Evaluating ideas
    Key thing to handle in this stage is the non-asks of customers and also going deeper into what exactly the client wants. Our job isn’t to churn out features basis direct customer asks. We then estimate the impact and effort of the ideas.
    These ideas are also looked at from the annual goals perspective. The annual goals are in themes with measurable targets. Four themes we are currently chasing: growing our core business, diversifying our revenue, improving customer experience and improving sustainability.
  • Strategic focus
    At Razorpay we like to take a long term horizon view of things too. That’s how RazorpayX and Razorpay Capital came out. For these kind of projects we follow an extremely quick prototype and test ideas approach wherever possible post market study. RazorpayX v1 was launched in 45 days and Razorpay Capital MVP was launched in a couple of weeks. These kind of projects follow their own planning and a rapid action team is created for experimenting.
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Hi Shashank,

How do you solve the problem of Prioritization?
At the same instance, there will be multiple features/functionalities which can be added, what strategy/framework people at Razorpay use to solve this riddle.

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It depends /shrug

We currently don’t follow public roadmaps in truest sense. However we use the B2B aspects of our business to our advantage. At some stage of their journey with Razorpay, they may get a call from someone our team. In some of these calls we evaluate their thoughts on items on our roadmap. This allows us to have a ready list of clients who will adopt it before we have built a feature.

We also use our client survey forms sometimes for this.

We are thinking of exploring public roadmaps with RazorpayX. However we may still shy away from making our marquee headlining features visible on public roadmap. This is to avoid copy cat announcements from competitors, who don’t necessarily wait for product to be really ready to do a PR blast. This is possible because of the long sales cycles in B2B, especially in enterprise.

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One of the terms I learnt from Anshuman Bapna of MMT is “reading the tea leaves”. It basically means trying to take long term picture and trying to predict how the industry will change. This leads to bunch of ideas which are then evaluated from the angle of synergy with the company’s core vision.

Our general thumb rule is that we want to get into domains which are tangentially related to payments (our core) and where we have an inherent advantage because of our payments business.

Lending becomes like THE go to product line for fintech companies due to this. A non-standard example is what we are doing with razorpay.com/x.

For each of these we evaluated the market readiness, feasibility etc. and then created a small team to quickly execute a closed MVP release. RazorpayX was launched in 45 days. Razorpay Capital took us about a couple of weeks to release. It was built completely on excel sheets to get it started and then converted into a proper product in another 2-3 weeks.

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We are extremely thoughtful about our PM hiring process. Every round has been carefully designed to evaluate various skill sets that we believe PMs need to have to be successful at Razorpay. The entire model has been made public and has been written here http://razorpay.com/unfiltered/how-we-hire-product-managers-and-what-to-expect-in-your-pm-interviews-at-razorpay/

This link has everything you need to know about PM hiring at Razorpay :slight_smile:

PS: We are hiring PMs!

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Great to see you here Shahshank. What kind of experience do you recommend someone build in order to apply to a product role - here I’m talking about switching work streams (say from tech or analytics team management) with no core experience in B2B or B2C product development. For example, would you, as a hiring manager, consider someone who has built their own product a viable candidate?

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One of the most important behavioral aspect of PM is ownership and taking responsibilities. Being an engineer, I’m guessing you would be seeing customer issues/asks etc. Can you take up some of these? Maybe go to customer meetings to understand their asks and write the concept note that a PM can take forward? Go through support tickets to see if you can identify some issues that you can go deeper on as a PM?

Basically simply standup an start acting as a PM. In great orgs this should work well.

I was an engineer at Razorpay for 2 years before I moved into product management (I was the first PM at Razorpay). My movement into PM happened because I was doing almost everything a PM does without the company asking me to. And when the need was felt to add PMs, it was extremely easy for me to take it up full time.

Some other things you can do would be to follow PM folks on Twitter, read books etc. I have a not-so-well maintained list of things to read for people looking to move to PM here: https://www.notion.so/shashankmehta/PM-Articles-d663b2917b9b4935994698126ccbc06d

Hope this helps!

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We have written a blog post on what we ask PMs in interview process. This should give you a very good picture on the skillsets you need. Here’s the link: http://razorpay.com/unfiltered/how-we-hire-product-managers-and-what-to-expect-in-your-pm-interviews-at-razorpay/

At a high level:

  1. Product Thinking
  2. Problem Solving
  3. Business Acumen
  4. Tech understanding
  5. Strategic Thinking and Planning
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Product Thinking is one of the key things we test for in our PM hiring. Here are some sample questions

  • How would you design an app for Swiggy’s delivery exec?
  • Design a mobile app to be used by parents at an amusement park.
  • Build a product solution for Flipkart to win the senior citizen citizens - online shopping destination for senior citizens
  • Design an elevator system.
  • Design a washing machine for blind people.

Product thinking for is nothing but problem solving. Can you solve it in such a way that it works for 1Mn customers?

It’s definitely something that can be learnt. Key things to learn are who your users are, what really is their problem, why is it a problem etc. If you understand people, you can develop product thinking.

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What’s the most challenging thing being in a product role at Razorpay?

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I have a B.Tech in Electronics and Communication. The courses I loved the most in college were all humanities courses! Of course, correlation not causation etc. applies here.

As I wrote in another answer (link), if you understand people, you can do product thinking. Humanities definitely helps with that.

I don’t think it will ever become a hiring parameter, given the dearth of great product managers. However I strongly believe it will help good PMs become great. I wish I could establish through a series of logical statements but I can’t. And hence it isn’t a hiring criteria either.

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We have followed a very common-sensical approach to scaling Razorpay. We did whatever felt right to us at that time and tweaked it as we scaled and things no longer seemed right.

Our entire product org (PMs, Designers, Engineers, Tech Writers) report to Shashank Kumar who is the co-founder. He is the CTO and CPO for us. We haven’t ever had PMs reporting to engineering folks, which is the norm in some places. It never made sense for us.

Our product team is broken into independent units: Core Payments, Payment Apps and Platform, X and Capital. Each has its own product leader who reports to Shashank Kumar. These are normally at Director level. The PMs in each unit report to Director or Associate Directors (who report to the D). These two positions are the only people management product positions.

Side note: Marketing is part of product org too. We are building exactly what we are selling (APIs, software) unlike Flipkart where you are building the ecommerce platform to sell the mobile phone, as an example. So the marketing team, which is marketing the product, which is what we are building, sits along with product team.

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this is brave :slight_smile: most PM teams suffer through this.

Partly answered it here: Next AMA: On Product Management [with Shashank Mehta of Razorpay]

We prefer to have end-to-end ownership on product segments. It’s not easy to setup though. For example, in payments product, do you separate ownership by:

  1. Payment APIs/Checkout for clients
  2. Backend processing systems working with banks

or

  1. Card payments (from client APIs/Checkout to processing)
  2. Netbanking payments (same)

etc.

We used to follow approach (1) which worked when we had way more engineers than PMs. Now we are shifting to (2) as we try to create self sufficient pods which can own the segment end to end.

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While working with large demanding enterprises, how do you ensure that you don’t deviate from your core product philosophy? Did you ever come across a make or break “feature” deal which was not in your roadmap / not fancied by the majority of your other clients

Every business is a mathematical function. Master the variables and you are golden.

Eg: A super simplified example
Rate of growth of revenue for Netflix = (rate of growth of new users - rate of churn) x pricing

It’s your standard mathematical form of f(g(x)), really.

So I strongly recommend understanding the levers of growth of the company you have joined. Then look at things from this lens. Things like vision, customers, features etc.

Another thing I recommend is to understand the reason why every job role exists in the company. Why is there an account management team? Why is there a digital marketing manager? What are their KRAs? This will give you a crash course on what matters for the company and why.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. So I have tried to cover some not so usual models that I like!

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But surely, the ‘dearth of great product managers’ should mean that a relatively lateral entry to the field must be encouraged? A company like Google already does it since so much of the universal appeal-ification of their products depends upon knowing people and cultures as much as technology. But I do concede that it is perhaps a luxury that only large companies can afford.

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Your PM tools? What’s the product stack at Razorpay?