Field Course: Product Management 102 - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Field Course: Product Management 102

Course Number 6702

Senior Lecturer Julia Austin
Spring; Q3Q4; 3 credits
Weekly late afternoon 120-minute sessions
Enrollment: Limited to 45 by application


Product Management 102 (PM 102) is Spring Term extension of the Fall Term field course Product Management 101 (HBS course 6701; last year's PM101/102 syllabus here). Like PM 101, PM 102 is a project-based course that uses a learning-by-doing approach; none of PM 102's sessions will entail case discussion.

PM 102 will hone skills relevant during a new software application's development and launch phases. Working in teams of two or three, PM102 students will select, hire and then supervise developers who will build their application.

During development, students will answer programmers' questions about product requirements; conduct usability tests to ensure that the application being built will meet users' needs; and track programmers' progress, revising priorities as appropriate. Following their product's launch, students will then: 1) identify bugs and determine which should be fixed first; 2) monitor early usage, collecting and interpreting data needed to prioritize additional features; and 3) iterate through another development cycle to improve the product. In parallel with these development tasks, students will conceive and implement a marketing plan for their product launch.

PM 102's weekly sessions will focus on building skills required during a software application's development and launch phases, for example: how to select and supervise a developer; how to write agile user stories and estimate the development effort required to complete them; how to conduct usability tests; how to structure SQL queries and use analytics software; how to manage an AdWords campaign; how to design and implement an A/B test. In addition to skill-building workshops often led by outside experts, PM 102's sessions will feature intensive peer-to-peer feedback on project work-in-progress.

Deliverables for PM 102 will include: 1) a cost budget, with ongoing tracking of actual spending against budget; 2) a detailed launch/marketing plan; 3) task scenarios for usability testing; 4) a video demonstrating how a user can complete key tasks using your software; and 4) a blog post reflecting on lessons learned from the course. Students will regularly present work-in-progress during class sessions.

Application Process

All students who successfully complete PM 101 are automatically eligible to enroll in PM 102; they can simply email Julia Austin by January 16 with their request to continue and do not need to complete the application described below. Subject to an assessment of students' fit with skill and project requirements, some students who did not take PM 101 will be enrolled in PM 102 by application. Please note that due to budget constraints, applications cannot be accepted for new projects that would require a subsidy from the course to pay software developers.

Applications, to be reviewed by Prof. Austin, must be submitted by January 13, through this form, which also provides more detail on selection criteria. Applicants will be informed of enrollment decisions on or before January 20, that is, before add-drop period commences. Successful applicants who choose to enroll will use the Add/Drop process as needed to adjust other credits for the term.