Product Management and Development

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Nov 30

EMP 5109A University of Ottawa Faculty of Engineering, Lamoureux Hall, room 121 Mondays from 4 to 7 pm, starts January 6, 2014By Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (Civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD

Course Objectives—

The main objectives of EMP5109A are fivefold:

–To understand the nature of product management and development including engineering aspects of the process
–To highlight latest trends in product management and development
–To gain insight into processes which facilitate product management and development
–To acquire an understanding of product management and development practices via case studies
–To develop leadership and management skills required to create, initiate, develop, bring to market and implement new products or services

Who should take course?

Anyone interested in becoming a product manager or anyone dealing with/managing product managers who wishes to understand the process better.

What is a product manager?

A product manager is a person who has technical expertise as well as marketing and communications skills. He or she is present at the very beginning of a new initiative, i.e., at the ideation stage. Their responsibilities include taking a new product or service from ideation though its engineering development phase and then into the marketplace via pre-selected marketing channels or direct to consumer.

They bring an understanding of concept planning, functional programming, critical path scheduling, budgeting, cost benefit analysis, cash conversion cycles, business modeling, pricing theory, guerrilla marketing and social media as well as development skills to bear on this process. They provide team leadership and take responsibility for delivery of products or services that are in demand in the marketplace and that yield rates of return that in the target range of their enterprise; they also bring them to the market on a timely basis and on budget. They understand the value of launch clients and pre-sales not only to provide a guaranteed revenue stream for each new product or service but also to obtain business model feedback prior to launch.

About Bruce M Firestone—

Firestone is a professor, entrepreneur, urbanist, developer, broker and founder of NHL hockey team, the Ottawa Senators and their home arena, Canadian Tire Centre, as well as author, mentor, coach and keynote speaker for organizations with a positive focus on creating new opportunities for their stakeholder group. He can be reached via twitter @profbruce, email via his Executive Assistant, Ms Nina Brooks ( or through his personal website

Course design—

The course is designed to cover different aspects of product management and development. Teaching is done through a mixture of lectures, class exercises and case discussions. 

  • There will be a strong emphasis on self and group learning in the course, both inside and outside the class. 
  • Each student will be expected to do a considerable amount of preparation out of class on skill development, cases and projects.
  • Students are expected to attend classes, to do pre-class preparation and be active in the learning process.
  • Participation in the classroom discussions and group presentations will be tied to the learning, and therefore, to evaluation.

Course Pack—

Entrepreneurs Handbook II, Bruce M Firestone, Learn By Doing Publications, 2013. Available from,

Course Outline—

Topics covered in the course include:

             1. Introduction to advanced product management

             2. Business modeling/Internet integration        

             3. Role of creativity, innovation and differentiated value/IP protection, trade secret v patents, copyright, trademark, public domain/first mover advantage/becoming more creative

               4. Advanced spreadsheet use: cost/benefit analysis using internal rate of return, IRR and cash conversion cycle

               5. Concept planning, functional programming, scheduling, critical path methodology and project management

               6. Securing launch clients, sponsors, suppliers, partners, strategic investors

               7. Financing/unconventional sources/bootstrap capital/pre-sales

               8. Supply and demand theory—pricing services and products, freemium, decoy pricing, reverse pricing models

               9. Market channel development/guerrilla marketing and guerrilla market research/social media and social marketing/giveback programs

               10. Negative cost selling/negotiating/neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

               11. How to make a great elevator pitch

               12. Leadership/future vision

Assignments and Marking—

               A. Prepare Concept Plan and Functional Program for product or service student group has self-selected + Financing and Pricing Strategy (10%)

               B. Cost/Benefit Analysis using Internal Rate of Return for product or service (20%)

               C. Business Model for product or service (20%)               

               D. Critical Path Analysis for product or service (15%)

               E. Create a Message Map and (please read and then a 2-minute YouTube elevator pitch video (public or unlisted) (10%) [Lecture 3—pitch and feedback event, re-record then submit one PowerPoint slide with your message map, YouTube URL and all student names in your group for L4]

               F. Present Product Management Strategy in class (20%) [Lecture 12—PowerPoint pitches in-class/final hand-in of (revised) assignment slides due one week after final lecture]

               G. Class attendance and participation (5%)

               Students self form groups of not less than 2 and a maximum of 4 people per team. Team choices to be based on complementary skills of team members.

               Late assignments result in deductions of 15% per week


Build/Launch Product w/ Business Model: powerpoint slidedeck + word doc + spreadsheets, submitted to professor one week after last class
-1-page executive summary (word doc)
-value proposition for one customer (spreadsheet)
-financial model showing how adding one customer/client affects top line revenues & bottom line (spreadsheet)
-cash conversion cycle (spreadsheet)
-IRR, internal rate of return on equity (spreadsheet)
-powerpoint with message map, link to YouTube video, highlights of value proposition/differentiated value/leverage built-into model/scalability/mass customization/marketing, launch client acquisition, pricing & capitalization strategies, 1-slide business model flowchart, critical path schedule (image highlighting critical tasks)


How to use regression analysis to make predictions about the future–Star Trek Film Predictor

Using linear programming techniques to optimize systems and networks–examples by Steve Wilson, Math Department, Sonoma State University:

Publisher distribution problem

Gold processor problem

Farmer planting problem

Course Pre-Preparation

  1. Please get a Twitter account and follow: @profbruce and @quantum_entity.
  2. Please read Twitter Nation (
  3. Take the ECQ Test ( Send your score to
  4. Give thought to the product or service you wish to work on during this course and its business model. Please read: Things Every Tech Startup Needs to Know about Business Models ( and Things Every Tech Startup Needs to Know about Self-Capitalization (
  5. Practice developing a business model using an online Business Model Generator: BMG (
  6. Know how to create a 2-minute YouTube elevator pitch video (public, unlisted or private) by downloading and reading ‘How to Make a Great Elevator Pitch’,

Contact info:

Ms Nina Brooks, EA, ninabrooks @ @profbruce

Resources & Useful Readings

  1. Product Management
    Overview of Product Management
  2. The Parallels between Product Manager and Entrepreneur
    Guest Post by Alan Mcnaughtan, Associate Director – Internet Product Development – Bell Internet
  3. Concept Planning, Functional Programming & Critical Path Methodology
    For Product Managers
  4. iPhone Yields at least 288% p.a. Return to Apple
    Advanced Spreadsheet Use For Product Managers
  5. The Complete Business Model
    The 12 Elements of a Complete Biz Model
  6. Message Map
    Summarizing your value proposition and creating an elevator pitch
  7. Product Managers and Decoy Pricing
    Increase Gross Sales Using Decoy Pricing
  8. A Product Manager’s Fatal Mistake
    Your own views vs. the views of the Market
  9. Why Businesses (Really) Fail
    Or Why Gadgets and Gizmos Don’t Make for Sound Businesses

Reminders after Lecture 1!

  1. Get on twitter, follow @profbruce and @quantum_entity
  2. Read Twitter Nation
  3. Do ECQ Test then send results to
  4. To get in touch with Bruce Firestone use: @profbruce or
  5. Course description is at:
  6. Slides are available from:
  7. Form groups of 2 to 4 students
  8. Please read: Things Every Tech Startup Needs to Know about Business Models ( + Chapter 2, Entrepreneurs Handbook II
  9. Please read: Things Every Tech Startup Needs to Know about Self-Capitalization ( + Chapter 3, Entrepreneurs Handbook II
  10. Get copy of Entrepreneurs Handbook II
  11. Provide email address
  12. Newsletters: yes/no
  13. Thinks about your product or service and your business model
  14. Get ready to build a message map and create an elevator pitch
  15. Try using the BMG, Business Model Generator
  16. Use hashtag: #emp5109

Reminders after Lecture 2!

1. Slide deck: GTBMR, Get the Business Model Right

2. Slide deck: Making a Great Elevator Pitch

3. Elevator pitches will be 2 minutes each, given during L3. Remember, it’s just a practice round, so have some fun. You submit your revised pitch the following week (Lecture 4). That’s the one marked. Send your slide to Nina Brooks (ninabrooks @

4. Final message Map and URL for YouTube pitches due L4.

5. Remember to put all your student names in your group on your one power point slide that has your message map and YouTube URL.

6. Elevator pitch by Utah “We put your brand in their hand” student is at:

Reminders after Lecture 3!

Read chapter 10 in Entrepreneurs Handbook II, Advanced Product Management.


Hand in your message map and provide youtube URL for your elevator pitch during lecture 4.

Reminders after Lecture 4!

Read chapter 6 in Entrepreneurs Handbook II, Cash Conversion Cycle
Hand in your critical path practice assignment during lecture 5
Reminders after Lecture 5!
Reminders after Lecture 6!
Have a good study break!
Reminders after Lecture 7!

Here are the follow up notes from Trevor Wilkins:

Cheers and thanks

Trevor Græme Wilkins – the Sustainable Selling Guru

★ SpeakerChange Leader & Author ★ – now available on Amazon worldwide!

+1-613-792-3866 (Ottawa Office); +1-613-797-4239 (Cell)

+44-20-8133-3574 (from EMEA); +44-7706-155645 (EMEA Cell)


Reminders before Lecture 8!

Schedule for Balance of Term

Hi everyone,

Here’s the schedule for the balance of the term:

L8, step by step process of building a business model/doing a product launch with a few more case studies.
L9, in-class workshop. I will work with each group individually on your products so come prepared to the class with the work you have done so far.
L10, how to self-capitalize your products/services.
L11, financial literacy.
L12, student presentations.

One week after the last class—students submit their revised business models and product management strategies to me.


I am thinking of giving a real estate and development course as part of the master of engineering EMP program next year. The course would teach everything from real estate investing and home ownership to real estate development. So if you are planning to buy a home, be a real estate investor, build your own home at some point, develop other real estate projects, or find work in the real estate industry, this could be of interest to you.

Would you mind taking literally 30 seconds and answer a survey for me on this?

Thanks to Mohamed Galaleldin for his help setting this up—

Regards, Bruce

Reminders after Lecture 8!

So next week is our workshop class. Bring in a paper copy of your business model and anything else you have ready. Drafts are fine. That’s all I am expecting.

Try the BMG (Business Model Generator, yourself like the BookStar group did yesterday in class. It’ll help get you thinking.

(You can compare your business model test score against major enterprises by clicking here:

Remember, think like you are those three pilots on-board that flight in Thomas Homer-Dixon’s book, Ingenuity Gap–you need to add some creativity, differentiated value, innovation and “pixie dust” or your product will crash…

Slidedecks from yesterday’s class are here:

Cheers, Bruce

ps. take 30 seconds and fill in my real estate and development course survey too, OK?

Senators case study slides:

Remember to bring in paper copies of your business models and any other material you have drafted up already for our workshop class tomorrow Monday.

I marked all the assignments and almost everyone got the comparison between a server farm in Idaho and Sweden right. It would have helped me though if you had added a simple conclusion like, “I recommend that the server farm be built in Sweden as opposed to Idaho because operating costs there are low enough to more than offset higher construction costs incurred in Luleå initially. The return (as measured by IRR, Internal Rate of Return) on the additional investment in Luleå is 41.8% p.a. well above our target of 22% p.a.”

Remember, you are product managers not just spreadsheet analysts–you are supposed to think independently and make recommendations that you can back up.

A few of you said, “I recommend Sweden” which is better than nothing but none of you explained (in words) why.

The class had more trouble with CCC, which is not surprising, it’s hard.

Here’s what Tania did,

And here is the spreadsheet showing both cases,

Cheers, Bruce

Creditor Proofing


Ken Edwards sent me this kickstarter campaign via twitter:

They’ve raised nearly $69,000 from almost 3,000 backers so far for a free photo printing model that prints ads on the back of your photos.

Sound familiar?  So on campus, free printing for students with ads on the back of each page looks realistic.

I sent this campaign (Flag) to another former student (in Sweden) who runs They could obviously adapt the Flag model to their own purposes–allowing you to send postcards of your photos for free as long as you don’t mind ads or sponsor messages added to your card…

Former students of mine are going to launch their kickstarter campaign for soon.

Kickstarter is not only a fundraising vehicle, it is a marketing vehicle. Imagine the Flag app launching with over 3,000 PAID clients.

Here are two more successful kickstarter campaigns from former students of mine:


Form for email signup:

Form for group names/signup:

Star Trek Film Predictor

Posted on Sunday 27 June 2010

Can We Predict How Many Star Trek Films Will Be Released by 2050?
And How many Bond Films Will There Be by 2050?
Learning How to Use Regression Analysis to Make Predictions

Well, we have a good Star Trek data set available to us which should permit some reasonable predictions to be made.

The first film, the pilot The Cage, was produced in 1966 (which we’ll call Year 1). Trekkers had to wait until 1979 for the next feature film, Star Trek, The Motion Picture. Thereafter, films were released quite regularly until a hiatus began in 2003.

In 2010, in what is now known as the franchise reboot, another film was released (the most commercially successful of them all). The next planned sequel release date is 2012.

So in all, we have a (nearly) 47 year history to draw on for our Star Trek Film Predictor.

A regression analysis of the data yields this equation:

No. of Star Trek Films Released = -1.2645 + 0.2941 x (Year – 1966 + 1).

This gives us the following predictions:

• By Star Date 2030: 18 films,
• By Star Date 2050: 24 films,
• By Star Date 2100: 38 films.

In graphical form, we have:

Star Trek Film Predictor: release dates from 1966 to 2100

This type of analysis, apart from being fun for Trek fans, might also serve some useful commercial purpose by informing a studio about when it might release new films–at what intervals does it make sense to do that.

Obviously, they would have more sophisticated tools at their disposal such as revenue maximization and optimization programs that they can run. But given Hollywood’s terrible record of performance, I am not sure that anything more sophisticated actually works.

There are a lot of very smart people at work in the film industry and yet the bulk of their movies fail miserably. So some simple regressions and decisions that meet the three tests I have put forward for sound decision making (that your heart, gut and head must all agree) might be all you need.

Prof Bruce

Postscript: Oops, there is an error in the above analysis. I originally had the next sequel’s release date in the data stream as 2013 (instead of the expected 2012). But given that anything can happen in life, I did not correct for this discrepancy (which may not turn out to be a discrepancy at all). So there is an inconsistency between the graphical form shown above and the spreadsheet with the data and analysis in it plus an inconsistency in the spreadsheet itself. I posted the spreadsheet at:

Anyone keen enough can correct for this error.

It could be argued as well that 2012 should not be included in the data sample at all since it has not yet happened.

In any event, the error is small and unlikely to have much impact on the predictions made here.

Postscript 2: Here are the films released (or soon to be) so far:

Star Date Year # of Films Title
1966 1 1 The Cage
1979 14 2 The Motion Picture
1981 17 3 The Wrath of Khan
1984 19 4 The Search for Spock
1986 21 5 The Voyage Home
1990 25 6 The Final Frontier
1992 27 7 The Undiscovered Country
1995 30 8 Generations
1997 32 9 First Contact
1999 34 10 Insurrection
2003 38 11 Nemesis
2010 45 12 Star Trek (Reboot)
2012 47 13 (Sequel)

Postscript 3: How about a prediction for James Bond films, another open-ended series? Well here it is:

Predicting Release Dates for James Bond Films

As you can see, according to these calculations, there should be 35 films (up from 24 as of 2010) by 2030 and a whopping 66 by 2100!

The data and regression analysis are posted at:

Answers for server farm analysis:

Answers for Enertia ccc:

Spread The Word

About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.