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Managing product remotely: a chat with Jan Rosa of Toggl Hire

Managing product remotely: a chat with Jan Rosa of Toggl Hire

Jan Rosa is an experienced product manager, ex-Googler with an extensive background in recruitment. We were excited to chat about his workflow in a remote-first setup, routines, metrics and new feature launches. Learn how is the team at Toggle Hire building a new way to hire talent with smart skills tests.

Jan Rosa is an experienced product manager, ex-Googler with an extensive background in recruitment. We were excited to chat about his workflow in a remote-first setup, routines, metrics and new feature launches. Learn how is the team at Toggl Hire building a new way to hire talent with smart skills tests.

To start off, could you give us a little bit of background on Toggl Hire?

Toggl Hire started as an in-house tool. Toggl, originally a time-tracking tool, has now become a suite of products to increase your productivity. We're a fully remote company and every time we post a job online, we receive anywhere from 1000-3000 of applications.

We don't have a capacity to review every CV, since hiring is done by team leads and the management - we do not have any recruiters in the company yet. As a solution to this huge number of applications we came up with a test, that is a gateway or an entry filter. In order for a manager to review an application the candidate has to do the test and pass a threshold. It usually filters out around 90% of candidates. Hiring managers can then start the process with vetted candidates to choose from for the next round.

How big is your team?

There's 11 people working on Toggl Hire (overall the Toggl group has 100+ employees). CEO, Growth team of 4 and Product team of 6 (PM, Lead Engineer, 2x frontend, 2x backend engineer).

Toggl Hire team offsite | Photo from Instagram

How have you reacted to the coronavirus crisis? Did anything change in your workflow?

There were two major changes - we cancelled the lease of the office we had in Tallinn. We're now officially a no-office company. The second big impact was that the regular face to face meetups that happen at Toggl Hire every two months moved to online.

What is your stack?

Primarily Slack / Hangouts / Zoom for communication, Notion.so for documentation, Figma for designs and mockups, Miro for user story mapping.

We use Amplitude, Google Analytics, SmartLook and Redash.io for analytics, Google Optimize for A/B testing on the web and Intercom for support, FAQ and some campaigns. And obviously Toggl Plan for work planning.

As a product manager, what is your method of assembling customer feedback/feature requests?

I get feedback from many sources - from our Growth team responsible for sales & support, from user interviews, and from internal brainstorming sessions. I keep everything in Notion and review the insights on a regular basis to see whether anything should be added to the roadmap.

How do you stay on top of product roadmap and backlog?

We do have a bi-weekly Product meeting where the whole product team + CEO + Head of Growth review the current status and discuss if anything urgent needs to be done. Otherwise we plan the work for the next 2-3 months (in terms of big features) on our meetups that happen every 2 months. I look after the backlog in Toggl Plan on a weekly basis to make sure we are on top of stuff that needs to be shipped. We also review our master plan every 6 months to see what we have achieved and what we want to focus on in the next 6 months.

What metrics are you currently focusing on? Which ones do you consider most important?

We have several metrics - product usage and financial ones. The most important for us are scaling metrics right now. We have managed to build a stable conversion funnel that is ready for scale.  We monitor user engagement - number of tests created, number of candidates, number of sessions / time spent.

On the business side we look at the number of active paying clients, and overall revenue growth. We look at a couple of other metrics, but they are secondary / supporting.

How often are you syncing with your team? What kind of meetings do you have on weekly basis?

The product team has a sync 2x a week, plus bi-weekly Product meeting I have mentioned earlier, plus 2-3 days meetup in-person every 2 months. Plus a lot of chatter on Slack and occasional Zoom / Hangouts to figure out stuff in person. We have campfires on Fridays - 1 hour informal meetings where we just chat or play games.

Your approach to keeping on top of sales + marketing + user requests? How are you organized cross-functionally?

We are still a very small team, so we talk to each other on a daily basis. Anything that needs to be done goes through me and gets added to the backlog. If it is a small quick win or a fix, it gets implemented immediately, otherwise it needs to be prioritised.

After exploring and finding the product market fit, we settled to focus on pre-employment testing so it is now much easier for us to say no to customers if anything they look for is outside of that focus area.

Does it differ when you have a big upcoming feature or product launch? Could you share with us your process for a successful launch? Do you keep a checklist?

We do have many ideas of what we want to do, there is usually no shortage of that :-). We discuss a few features that we want to pick for the brainstorming / prototyping session for the next meetup.

During the meetup we focus on certain aspects of the feature - how it might work, how it might look, processes, mocks, flows. We usually split into 2-3 teams and people volunteer to work on stuff they are interested in. So teams are always cross-functional. We present our work and prototypes at the end of the meetup. I’ll take everything after the meetup and prepare more detailed specs with various scenarios, states etc.

The lead engineer then works on the high level tech spec. Once the particular feature is prioritised (we use a very loose kanban for prioritization) the developer prepares the detailed tech spec, gets it reviewed by the rest of the team and starts coding. Once done, there is a fair bit of testing by the whole team + whoever requested the feature from the Growth team. If things work as intended, we need to write support articles, or client comms in case of bigger changes or new major releases, prepare the marketing campaign and we ship.

What is your favourite task to do as a PM? Least favourite one?

My favourite task is definitely the beginning of the process - ideation, brainstorming, prototyping, experimenting. The least favourite would be any kind of paperwork :-)

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