Tool-a-Palooza at SVPMA

November Event Review: ‘Tool-a-Palooza’ at SVPMA

By Neha Nayak

November 2015 Event

The Silicon Valley Product Management Association held their first ‘Tool-a-Palooza’ event at their monthly meeting this November.  ‘Tool-a-Palooza’ was a session aimed at sharing productivity enhancing, easy-to-use product management tools for leading and aspiring product managers.  The session introduced and discussed five keys tools successful product managers have leveraged to add rigor and discipline to their efforts and drive better outcomes:

  • Rally Software
  • UserTesting
  • Balsamiq Mockups
  • UberConference

Rally Software: Jeffrie Penrod, Solutions Architect, Rally Software, led the demo and discussion on Rally, a software product that helps product managers speed up deliverables, by separating planning and development from delivery.  As product managers scramble through the overwhelming ‘What’, ‘Who’ and ‘When’ pieces of the puzzle, Rally systematically divides deliverables from longest running Themes to minimal marketable Features.  This division of deliverables can be expressed as, Themes–>Initiative–>Orders–>Feature.  Product managers working on a single feature are typically tasked with delivering it within three to four months, and can leverage Rally and its effective features to deliver on time.  Among its top features, shining bright is Capacity Planning.  At all times during a project, the software alerts PMs to potential dependencies and helps set up realistic projections and accurately plan resource requirements.  Further, Rally not only eliminates time consuming tasks such as report generation and consolidation, often inherent to the process, but also seamlessly supports enterprises that are looking to quickly scale.

UserTesting: Today, user testing is a part of every good product development/management process.  Numerous studies conclude that integrating user experience into product development not only creates better products and more satisfied customers, but also reduces the cost of development, support and maintenance.  Steve Matthews, Product Manager, UserTesting, led the demo and discussion on UserTesting, a web and mobile based service that helps users gain real product insights in as little as one hour.  During his demo, Steve also explained how UserTesting helps product managers watch a user take the survey created by them.  By observing the target customer during a survey, product managers can better evaluate their survey against its intended purpose.  Watching users responding to survey questions unveils insights about the clarity questioning, and opens doors to richer insights through quick fixes, Steve explained.  The UserTesting software can also be used to review competitor process, and is thus a source of rich competitive intelligence while testing prototypes, websites and native apps.  Steve further shared that wireframes used in the process can be developed with free professional tools such as InVision, a web and mobile prototyping, collaboration and workflow platform.

Balsamiq:  Debashish Niyogi, SVPMA Board Member, led the demo on rapid wireframing tool Balsamiq.  The demo highlighted functional features that assist PMs in delivering faster and smarter outcomes.  Debashish detailed features of the wireframing tool that reproduce whiteboard sketches in a fast, easy to learn and editable format during his demo.  It is an excellent tool to create great website, mobile apps, software and interface mockups. and UberConference: Tom Gilheany, SVPMA Board Member, led the demo and discussion on note taking and instant sharing software,, and a solution for better conference calls, UberConference.  During his demo, Tom walked the audience through the key features of that make sending out the minutes of the meeting a walk in the park.  The web-based service includes important features like agendas, to-do-lists, ideas, decisions, signatures, and dates.  An efficient email interface supports electronically sending out the minutes to all participants instantly after the meeting.  Tom further shared his experience with UberConference, an easy and cool alternative to generally painful audio conferencing.  The service automatically authenticates users based on the number they are calling from, eliminating the need for lengthy dial and access codes.  The prominent features of the service that make conference calls more productive and fun include screen sharing, recording, the ability to identify the speaker at any time during the conference, the ability to add up to ten people during the conference, and a link up to Google Hangouts.

The first Tool-A-Palooza session at SVPMA ended with an audience Q & A session, and great lessons learned by an energetic crowd of aspiring and leading product marketers and product managers.

Neha Nayak is a data centric thinker and has over 7 years’ combined experience in market research and product marketing.  She can be contacted at

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