Getting the Product Manager job done from your Smartphone

Product Management Smartphone Tools

Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, once famously revealed, that he’s running his whole company purely from his smartphone. While those claims may have sounded a bit adventurous a couple of years ago, I can totally see all the ‘normal’ management stuff being done on your iPhone or Android.
But what about people who are working more ‘hands-on’ all day long? This is why I dug deeper into the usual routines and tasks of a product manager and wanted to go through the mobile productivity solutions for your daily challenges!

Team Communication

Working as a product manager means communication. Whether it’s about keeping your stakeholders up to date, being available for questions from your development team or triaging the latest design review process, communicating with other people is key.
Luckily, apps have evolved the most in this area.

Thanks to Slack & HipChat, are tools stemming from very product-minded companies. This also shows in their mobile apps. From my perspective, both apps have evolved a ton over the last couple of months so that I don’t see any huge feature gaps when purely working through group and direct messages on your phone.

But especially if your company is a bit more ‘old fashioned’ when it comes to communication or you simply have to talk a lot to external stakeholders, you most likely rely on e-mail as well.
If your e-mail service is based on GSuite (which it really should be), the answer here is easy: Inbox by Gmail. Just make sure your admin has enabled the feature for your organization. But after taking that hurdle, you’re up for a top notch mobile e-mail experience.

For everybody not being on GSuite, the best overall experience is getting delivered by Outlook. It gets constant updates and works really well with basically all important providers. I also shared my personal inbox management system a couple of months ago, if you’re looking for inspiration.

Task & Ticket Management

For a very long time, this was achilles’ heel of mobile productivity for product managers. But especially in the last couple of months, a lot has happened in here.

First, not only got Trello bought by Atlassian they also finally added offline support for the mobile apps. This was probably the last missing piece for all product teams relying on Trello for issue management.

JIRA, the now rightfully considered bigger brother of Trello, was a long-time famously non-mobile tool. There only was a crappy mobile web version available and making serious changes from your smartphone was pretty much impossible.
But with the introduction of the official app last year, product managers were enabled to work through the whole flow of creating, defining, assigning and following through on issues.

By recently going almost mobile only for entire days, I can ensure you that working with JIRA on an iPhone 7 Plus is almost more fun from the performance side of things than in the browser…

Personal task management has never been a real issue on mobile. Quite the contrary, the incredible high amount of productivity apps led to a lot of consolidation a couple of months ago. While indy players like OmniFocus and Things are still in the game, they were a bit overengineered for my needs and I still rely on Wunderlist. I truly hope Microsoft keeps it around as a standalone product.



File Sharing, Documentation & Office Productivity

As with e-mail, a lot of your mobile apps of choice depend on your company’s infrastructure. For me personally, the microsoft office apps currently have a slight edge when it comes to native experiences, but I like the collaborative aspect of GSuite way more.

For file sharing, you’re probably bound to the service which is the closest to your office infrastructure (mainly GSuite vs. Office365 = GDrive vs. OneDrive), but I like to have Dropbox in place as well, as it still delivers the best performance and reliability for syncing and applying changes.

For documentation purposes (e.g. meeting notes or collections requirements), you can never go wrong with Confluence – Especially since the native mobile apps became real productivity enhancers.

While you have more choice in that domain, I highly recommend staying away from pure notes applications for company wide/cross-company documentation. Evernote, Bear, Apple Notes or Google Keep work well for your very own writing, but lead to a way too fragmented account landscape when trying to be forced upon teams.

Design Reviews & Wireframing

Reviewing or sometimes even creating interaction and visual design output is fairly common for product managers orchestrating a team of experts. And while tools like Sketch or Adobe XD really pushed design processes forward on the computer, mobile devices still feel a bit left our here.
Thankfully, your main task shouldn’t be creating visual designs, but rather critiquing and facilitating them. Therefore, I highly recommend InVision and it’s native mobile app. By using at, it’s easy to have almost GSuite-like design discussions right from your phone. Due to the tight integration with Sketch, it shouldn’t be a problem for your product designer to provide you her visual designs in there for some feedback while being on the road.

Zeplin, my very favorite desktop tool for that process unfortunately hasn’t come up with a native mobile app.

For occasions when you actually have to illustrate your thoughts about a new feature idea or user flow, you can’t go wrong with OmniGraffle for iOS. While I switched to Sketch for wireframing on the Mac, I’m still humbled by OmniGraffle for my phone. I really like the reduced complexity here and how quickly I can create flows and wireframes – Leaving alone how easy sharing them is.

What was the last product management task you wanted to solve on your phone but couldn’t because the lack of a proper tool?