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

Field Course: Product Management 102

Course Number 6702

Professor Thomas Eisenmann
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
Weekly early-evening two hour sessions, plus weekly optional clinics
Project
Enrollment limited to 45 by application

Overview

Product Management 102 (PM 102) is Winter Term extension of the Fall Term field course Product Management 101 (HBS course 6701). 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, most PM102 students will select, hire and then supervise developers who will build their application; the developers’ fees will be funded in some cases through the course, as explained below.

During development, students will answer developers’ questions about product requirements; conduct usability tests to ensure that the application being built will meet users’ needs; and track developers’ 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 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. Last year’s syllabus for PM 102 is available here. This year’s course will cover roughly the same content as last year’s syllabus, with more emphasis on launch marketing plans and tactics.

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) weekly “snippets” briefly summarizing team progress; and 4) a blog post reflecting on lessons learned from the course. Students will regularly present work-in-progress during class sessions and, at the end of the term, will showcase their work to the Harvard community at a project fair hosted by the Innovation Lab.

In addition to required weekly class sessions (on Mondays from 5:30-7:30), students can attend optional weekly clinics (Wednesdays 5:30-7:00) at which instructors, mentors and outside experts will coach project teams and review topics in greater depth.

Application Process

All students who successfully complete PM 101 are automatically eligible to enroll in PM 102; they can simply request PM 102 through the January add-drop process and do not need to complete the application described below. Subject to capacity and budget constraints, and to an assessment of students’ fit with skill and project requirements, a few students who did not take PM 101 will be enrolled in PM 102 by application.

On December 15, an online application form will be posted on this course description web page with detailed instructions and more guidance on selection criteria and the number of students who can be added to PM 102. Applications, which must be submitted by January 9, will then be reviewed by Prof. Eisenmann. Applicants will be informed of enrollment decisions on or before January 22, that is, before add-drop period commences a few days later. Successful applicants will be asked to commit to the course by noon on January 24 and will be enrolled; these students will then use the Add/Drop process as needed to adjust other credits for the term. 

Up to a spending cap and based on instructor review of funding requests, the course will subsidize expenditures by teams with qualifying projects. Qualifying projects include students’ startup ideas that have not: 1) raised funding from outside investors; or 2) received a significant subsidy from some other organization, e.g., a Rock Accelerator grant or a new venture competition prize. Prior year FIELD 3 funding does not disqualify a project from receiving a PM 102 subsidy, nor does the $1,000 Rock Experimentation Fund.

In allocating subsidies, preference will be given to qualifying projects that continue from PM 101. If any funds are available after subsidizing these projects, students who enroll in PM 102 through the application process described above will be invited to apply for subsidies for qualifying projects that were not developed through PM 101. If funding for such projects is not available, then applicants will need to either: 1) bring a project to PM 102 that does not require any course funding; or 2) join an existing team that began developing its application during PM 101. More guidance will be provided on these points when the application form is posted in mid-December.