The Prodify Blog

Applying Vision-Led Product Management in the real world.

Ben Foster

Ben is a co-founder of Prodify and Principal Product Advisor / Coach. He's also the Chief Product Officer at GoCanvas. Prior to that he was the VP of Product & Design at Opower, which went public in 2014 and prior to that, worked for Marty Cagan at eBay.

Recent Posts

CrossLead Case Study: Converging on Product-Market Fit

The following is adapted from Build What Matters. CrossLead is a platform that helps organizations of all sizes plan, manage, and track progress toward achieving important company objectives. It was founded by Navy SEAL David Silverman, co-author of the bestseller Team of Teams, which details the military’s need to become nimbler and more flexible in order to successfully fight Al Qaeda. Many commercial organizations are faced with the challenge of making similar adaptations, but they lack the necessary software tools and frameworks, which CrossLead provides. Nevertheless, the CrossLead team did not see immediate market traction.
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Advisor Case Study: Constantly Changing Priorities

The following is adapted from Build What Matters. When I joined Adchemy, a twenty-five-person startup, in 2006, the company had already built ingenious machine learning technology capable of generating and optimizing billions of ads and landing pages every day. The promise of that technology led to multiple funding rounds and a $400 million valuation in 2009.
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Advisor Case Study: The Color-Coded Product Roadmap

The following is adapted from Build What Matters. I vividly remember joining Opower as the VP of product in early 2010. In my second week, the board requested to see a product roadmap. Scrambling to deliver, the obvious starting point was learning from the team what had already been planned. In doing so, I discovered two surprising facts:
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Advisor Case Study: Measuring Lines of PRD

The following is adapted from Build What Matters. During my time at eBay, from 2001 to 2005, product management was run by a few different leaders. When I first joined as an entry-level product manager, Marty Cagan was leading product management and design, and there was a true appreciation for the innovative role that product management played. After he left, the engineering leader stepped in to fill his shoes. Her perspective was that product management’s job was to feed the engineering beast, producing volumes of product requirements documents (PRDs) that would keep thousands of developers busy. The joint product and engineering team became extremely efficient at delivering lots of code, less so at delivering consistent results.
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Contactually Case Study: The Power of Focus

The following is adapted from Build What Matters. Initially, Contactually was a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for the long tail, allowing small businesses in virtually any industry to manage customer relationships and communications with easy-to-understand, web-based software. The product team had been receiving input from all directions. Customers requested additional features, sales wanted new demo capabilities, customer support identified bugs to fix, and engineering felt an urgency in addressing overdue technical debt. Internal stakeholders became disconnected and frustrated with the product team, yet further trade-offs still needed to be made.
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The Top 3 Product Lessons Learned from eBay

on April 21 2020 By | Ben Foster | Speaking
eBay was in direct competition with Amazon in the early 2000's, but they had very different methodologies when approaching the market. The mistakes that eBay made during this time ultimately led to a huge difference in the trajectory of where these companies are today. On another episode of the Rocketship.fm podcast, I discuss my time at eBay from 2001-2005. 
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The Top 3 Product Lessons Learned from Webvan

on April 21 2020 By | Ben Foster | Speaking
The story of Webvan's rush to go public features prime examples of what not to do when trying to scale. I recently joined this episode of the Rockship.fm podcast to talk about three critical but often overlooked mistakes the company made when trying to revolutionize home grocery deliveries. 
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Wartime Product Leadership

on April 9 2020 By | Ben Foster | Executing Coaching Training
An Unprecedented Situation The COVID-19 outbreak and associated response have staggering immediate ramifications for many technology companies. Nearly everyone has closed their offices and plenty of thought leaders have shared best practices for delivering software in a 100% remote work environment. However, the far more important product leadership challenge today is the need to quickly switch gears based on new business priorities and to become more dynamic at the senior-most levels given unpredictable and rapidly evolving market conditions.
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The 10 Commandments of Product-UX Collaboration

on July 22 2019 By | Ben Foster | Coaching Speaking Design Training
Product management is a highly collaborative role.  One of the most critical partnerships in the success of any product is the product-design relationship, especially when it comes to the user experience.  Last fall, I presented how top product and UX teams work together at a NoVA UX Meetup.  Here's a summary of my talk.
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