Are you from a development background and considering the move into product management or product ownership? You’ll have an understanding of stories, requirements, coding and test timelines, but what new skills should you begin learning?
Search “career+change+covid” on Google News and you’ll find 587K+ results, which highlights the market is active and likely growing. As a Microsoft Partner, Zupa relies heavily upon its Azure and DevOps architecture however not all applications in this arena are subscription products. We’ve built this list of free workflow tools with links to basic training—whether to help you on your journey to a career in project management or to simply gain a better understanding of how your product owner adds a user story in to your sprint.
1. Design prototypes with Adobe XD
“Define the look of your user interfaces with vector drawing tools, colours, character styles, grids, guides, and more.” This may sound out of your league, but what you’re looking to achieve is a standardised, easy-to-understand way to present and collaborate your ideas with a team.
Adobe XD allows you to create a library of components, colour schemes, and containers on a wireframe grid system. With integrated fonts and responsive design tools, you’ll produce professional assets to stir debate and imagination between your clients and devs.
As you become more skilled, you can begin to experiment with triggers and auto-animate! Get inspired with https://xd.adobe.com/ideas/.
2. Get to grips with Kanban using Atlassian JIRA Core
A Kanban board is a visual tool to manage projects with task cards moving from left to right across ‘swimlanes’. JIRA Core is designed for Agile management practice and is popular in development and customer service circles. You may be used to completing features via ‘pick from the right’ but successful deployment begins at planning.
Using an online portal means availability of live data, but without a real-life team, you may not be sure where to start. You can create your first project from a template. With this, you can learn trend spotting and analysis of time, workflow and production blocks. You’ll gain an understanding of the terminology and tools which are common throughout performance tracking platforms and you’ll begin to plan with critical thinking.
3. Learn which apps integrate with Microsoft Teams
All roles at Zupa rely on Teams; from our help desk presenting remote training, to our daily video stand-ups and third-parties’ ability to email into chat channels. Our developers especially like the GitHub plugin. Our version control software places notifications into Teams channels with live links into projects.
The app store has grown to include dozens of integrations that can help a PM or PO, from a quick questionnaire in Polly to Team O’clock that will track your retrospectives. Whilst some apps require their own subscription, search through the Productivity and Project Management tabs to find and test whiteboards, bots, agreement management…the choices are plentiful.
4. Keep your test and demo user data in KeePass
Describing itself as ‘the free, open-source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager’, KeePass does exactly what it says on the tin. You must make your own decision when choosing a security product, but don’t let its early 2000s look fool you; the encryption is built with algorithms approved by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). With a database filing system, it’s a good place to generate, store and sort your sensitive access and user data for PM/PO test environments.
P.S. If your future projects require users with emails, birthdays, addresses, and D.O.Bs, this Random User Generator is open source.
5. Begin data modelling with Power BI
Step away from Excel and begin to produce interactive reports through modern dashboards and journals. Find and interrogate meaningful project insights with ‘answers to address your needs’. Power BI Desktop is free to download and because you build with your own data, you’ll create a more powerful suite than the kick-off and burndown charts in JIRA Core. Acquisition, modelling, visualisation, and action options mean project management in Power BI can handle everything from milestone efficiency to risk impact alerts.