Interviewed by Milan Lostica.
Slite is a simple collaborative documentation tool that helps businesses stay organized and work more thoughtfully. Founded in 2016, the company’s simple tool acts a single source of truth for all internal documentation and processes.
Mike Barlett, head of product at Slite, has always been a firm believer of putting the customer at the center of all product efforts. For years, he searched for a solution would allow him to gain direct insight into customer feedbacks, relate feature ideas back to specific customer conversations, and be transparent about what features are being built next and why. He found everything he was looking for and more in productboard.
I’ve been doing product management for nearly 20 years now, and I’ve always been looking for a tool like this.
A customer-centric approach to product strategy
“One of my philosophies towards product management is that customers don’t always ask for what they need,” Mike told me, “they ask for what they know.” Because of this, he always makes it a point to dig deeper beneath the surface, and loves that he can speak directly with customers using productboard’s Intercom integration. “With productboard, I can re-engage customers and find out if their needs are actually different than what they asked for. This helps me get to the root of their problem and approach it with the right solution.”
Mike also uses productboard to source incremental feedback from customers on features that are in the delivery process. “I like how easy it is to get more information on how customers see a feature working. I can even show them mockups of features that are in the works. I’ve been in product management for a long time and have never had this relationship between customer insights and the roadmap. It is really useful.”
“I’ve been in product management for a long time and have never had this relationship between customer insights and the roadmap. It is really useful.”
This open line of communication helps Mike properly prioritize features that customers truly want and need. And build them just the right way. Talk about a true customer-centric approach to product strategy.
Earning buy-in from the team
Slite’s fully remote team enthusiastically uses their own product on a day-to-day basis. While this is a clear signal of the product’s value, it means that the team often advocates for new features based on internal usage habits. This makes it difficult for Mike to get everyone on board with customer-focused features that don’t align with internal expectations.
For Mike, productboard is “an indispensable vehicle to achieve buy-in from the team” even if their true passion is for “super-stealthy ninja keyword shortcuts” rather than being able to paste Excel tables directly into a Slite note (customers use Excel, the Slite team doesn’t). Using the Features board, he organizes all incoming feature ideas and requests into a logical hierarchy for delivery. Now the whole team has access to a holistic overview of features coming down the pipeline as well as the customer conversations and quantitative data behind them. This effectively rallies the team behind what is being built next and why, and ensures that the company maintains a customer-centric focus.
“productboard makes it easy to focus on the customer rather than opinion. When you’re able to refer to quantifiable insights that are organized in a really useful way, it takes a lot of subjectivity out of the conversation.”
Celebrating milestones as a team
As a young company (they have yet to turn 3!), Slite celebrates new and exciting milestones every day. The company now boasts teams of 500+ in their ever-growing list of customers, and has blossomed from a team of one to a team of 14. When it comes to product, Mike is focused on continual delivery of features that spark delight and simplify the lives of Slite users. With his customer-centric mindset, we believe he is well-poised for success now and in the future!
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productboard is a product management system that enables teams to get the right products to market faster. Built on top of the Product Excellence framework, productboard serves as the dedicated system of record for product managers and aligns everyone on the right features to build next. Access a free trial of productboard today