Navigating Product Management in Nonprofits: Insights from the TechSoup Connect Workshop

Product Management Fundamentals For Nonprofits

In the dynamic world of tech and nonprofit work, understanding the ins and outs of product management is crucial for leveraging technology to maximize impact. Recently, a TechSoup Connect British Columbia Western Canada event unveiled a wealth of knowledge on “Product Management Fundamentals for Nonprofits”. The workshop, led by product management expert Moshe Mikhanovsky, founder of Products for Good, aimed to bridge the gap between technology solutions and the real needs of clients within the nonprofit sector.

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Breaking Down Product Management

The term “product management” might conjure images of software development or commercial goods creation, but as Mikhanovsky pointed out, its application goes beyond the conventional. He clarified that product management encompasses a broad range of actions from ideation to delivery, ensuring products meet customer expectations and achieve desired outcomes.

Moshe Mikhanovsky shared his personal journey from an engineering background to a product management enthusiast, driven by the need to meet and exceed user expectations with lean, iterative product development techniques. His project, Products for Good, exemplifies applying product management to socially impactful initiatives, thus providing a learning platform for aspiring product managers aimed at building products that contribute positively to humanity.

Product Management for Nonprofits

The workshop specifically tailored its insights to the nonprofit sector, where product management principles can help in strategic planning and implementation of various programs and services. Mikhanovsky highlighted three critical areas where nonprofits can leverage product management:

1. Product Development: Nonprofits developing products as part of their offerings can benefit from a product management approach to ensure their services meet user needs and remain viable.

2. Service Delivery: Viewing services through a product management lens can help nonprofits streamline operations, improve service delivery, and ensure sustainability.

3. Digital Transformation: In the era of digitalization, nonprofits need to evaluate and sometimes reevaluate the tech tools and platforms they use. Product management can guide selecting, configuring, and integrating technology solutions to meet organizational and client needs effectively.

Applying Product Management Process

Moshe took the workshop attendees through the product management process, emphasizing the importance of continuous discovery, strategy, prioritization, development, and monitoring. He outlined the roles within a product team — engineering, design, and product management — and discussed the importance of reducing risks related to feasibility, usability, value, and viability.

One interesting point raised was about adapting product management to existing systems within an organization, particularly for digital teams in larger nonprofits. Moshe suggested a regular evaluation of these systems against organizational needs and goals, looking for gaps that might hamper effectiveness or growth. This approach ensures that organizations remain agile, making informed decisions about updating or replacing systems to better serve their mission.

Conclusion: The Road Ahead

The workshop made it clear that product management isn’t just about managing products; it’s about strategically aligning products or services with an organization’s goals to create maximum value for end-users. For nonprofits, applying these principles can mean more efficient services, better use of technological tools, and ultimately, a greater impact on the communities they serve.

As nonprofit organizations continue to navigate the complexities of serving their communities in an increasingly digital world, embracing the principals of product management offers a path to not just survive but thrive. The insights shared by Moshe Mikhanovsky during the TechSoup Connect event provide a solid foundation for any nonprofit looking to leverage product management for social good.

Whether you’re looking to improve your service delivery, embark on a digital transformation journey, or develop new products to better serve your community, the principles of product management hold the key to achieving your organization’s goals with efficiency and impact.

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