Product Management All-Star: 6 Questions With Naill Mclean
We have the best job in the world — Aha! builds software for software builders. And we are connected with people you should know. The folks who are building what is next for customers around the world. So we are asking exceptional product managers who are shaping the future to share their knowledge with you.
Based in Scotland, United Kingdom, Naill Mclean currently leads a product team that builds content for a number of tools at insightsoftware.
Niall is a proud father who loves playing with his kids — they make him feel young! He enjoys running, motorbiking, 3D printing, tinkering on servers, and creating Arduino projects.
When did you learn product management existed?
"Eight years ago, I worked in a hybrid role providing IT support to the finance team at insightsoftware. I helped them utilize our enterprise resource planning system. We were heavy users of the Hubble financial reporting solution — I could see it had amazing potential. I worked closely with the Hubble team to enhance the product and customers loved the improvements. It resulted in an amazing new job opportunity for me."
What was your first product job?
"I started as the business analyst for the Hubble product at insightsoftware. I wrote customer stories, worked with customers, conducted market analysis, and delivered go-to-market activities. In those days, there wasn’t much structure to the product management process. I documented and built processes to better communicate the output from the product management team."
What is the most important trait for a product manager?
"Empathy. If you feel the pain of your stakeholders, it makes it easy to prioritise and solve the larger problems. At some point in your product management career, you will be challenged on the priority of your backlog. Using customer feedback to communicate the pain and value of the enhancement will give you evidence to explain your decisions."
What would you recommend a new product manager not do?
"A product manager should not show bias. Gather insight from multiple stakeholders to see the bigger picture, define a strategy, deliver a great product, and communicate the value. Using a scoring system also helps to eliminate your natural bias, keep you honest, and better prioritise."
If product management had a slogan, what would it be?
"Customer is king! Happy customers will evangelise your product, and nothing feels better than visiting a customer and hearing how your product has changed their lives."
What will change most about managing products in 2030?
"Like all roles, automation will play a big part in the future. We don’t want to spend hours building roadmaps, reports, and repeating manual tasks. Let’s use and improve the tools to help collect feedback and automate as much of the backlog, roadmap, and communication process as we can."