I had the pleasure of attending Pendo’s yearly user conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.

My number 1 take away from this conference, is that we can get a lot more value out of Pendo, just by having more people (ALL types of product people) use Pendo. But, in order to do this effectively, there is a lot of work we need to do to create and empower our Pendo teams.

Not just training, but processes and governance. Managing this can really become a full-time job, even for smaller organizations. But now, I'm getting a better idea of how other companies are doing this, and how we can do it from within.

My favorite session was a talk by Dan Ariely. Dan is a behavioral economics psychologist, professor, and charismatic storyteller. He spoke on the topic of friction. Super-relevant for a lot of the stuff we as product teams need to champion at ADP. (And also relevant for my mission, to enable and enhance my organizations' capabilities around data-driven decision making.)

I’ll probably write a separate blog about Dan's topic in the future. It was also great to connect with the other co-worker Pendomonium attendees:

Day 1

General Session

  • Pendo’s Todd Olsen, in his cool and casual style, preached the value of companies being Product-led.
  • Pendo as a startup is doing really well. More funding. Featured on the Forbes Cloud 100 for the second year in a row.
  • “Aligning Around the Product”. Many companies to start creating teams around Product Operations. (More on this in a later session)
  • New Pendo stuff
  • Data Explorer! Getting Pendo data to look the way you need it is difficult. This new interactive tool will help Pendo users more-quickly get to the measures and visualizations they need, and makes it easier to share with other Pendo users (Available now, in Beta)
  • Pendo bought a startup called Receptive, now know as Pendo Feedback. This is like Jira’s idea board. Users get to vote for the features they want the most, submit new ideas, etc.
  • This is REALLY cool
  • Transparency around upcoming features, releases, suggestions
  • Flexible, customer-communication roadmap tool
  • Pendo user groups, on-site training packages...(Reading between the lines on this one...Pendo’s own time-to-value is not what it can be.)
  • More Pendo admin analytics, like who is using Pendo, viewing reports, etc.

Pendo seems to be following the “Platform” (not-necessarily multi-sided) approach—creating an ecosystem of apps, integrations, etc.

Breakout Sessions

How Procore maintains consistency with over 130 Pendo users

  • Session led by Amanda Bridge, a UX Content Writer. Her primary role is to write content for the user across many systems, devices, experiences. This is a newer role, it did not exist at her company before her.
  • She created a Pendo Center of Excellence. (ADP Core UX created the beginnings of one, and I have some pages in Confluence. But the effort needs to be more deliberate and tailored toward Compliance Solutions’ use-cases. And we need more people participating.) Amanda detailed her approach in creating a COE: Create a cross-departmental strike team (Engineering, QA, UX, Marketing)
  • A Pendo Guides Process: Prep, Create, Test, Review & Publish, Analyze, Maintain and Test
  • This needs to be managed OUTSIDE of Pendo, since there are not tools within
  • Limit the number of Pendo Publishers. Procore has 5
  • It took Amanda and team 8 months to create the COE

A Cross-Functional Approach to Delivering an Awesome Customer Experience

  • Session led by Allison Caldrone and Ryan Durbin from Citrix
  • Understand the value of in-app, contextual messaging
  • Engagement with in-product guides resulted in 40% fewer support cases
  • Talk to your support teams. What are customers biggest problems?
  • Over 50% of their users do not interact with guides. But they’ve come up with some creative solutions for “Remind me later” functionality...
  • (The title of this session didn’t match the content too well...)
  • Session led by Thomas Mella, Director of Customer Success, FourKites. FourKites is a freight tracking startup.
  • Aanlytics without action does nothing
  • Created a feedback loop in Slack with Pendo integration
  • (Does ADP have a central place for customer feedback for us to integrate with?)
  • Emailing the customer based on feature usage (or lack of usage)
  • Using Zapier for workflow automation. Visitor report from Pendo -> Zapier -> Email User
  • Create a customer health score. Understand what a healthy-usage customer looks like. “Your 250 warehouse users should be logging in 3 times a week"
  • Identify your top 100 power users! Engage! (USERS, not clients)

Pendo Naming Conventions

  • Led by Leo Frisghberg, Home Depot Quote Center
  • Fun dude:
  • ~200 guides are being created every two weeks. He needed to come up with a robust solution for naming Pendo Guides and Tags
  • Leo worked with a [taxonomy expert?] to create the syntax:
  • I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. It requires a level of rigidity that makes me uncomfortable...

Day 1 Closing Session

  • Led by Oji Udzue, of Calendly
  • Spoke of product vitality
  • A great product that redefines a category = vitality
  • Spend a lot of time with your customers. Have a splash of inspiration.
  • Your product needs to be self-service
  • Spoke of network effect - where the value of the product increases just by having more people using it

Day 2

General Session

  • Brian Crofts, Pendo’s CPO
  • “How do you become a master of your craft?”. Seat the details in the context of the greater vision. Have a ritual, maintain a discipline. Stay the course. Never be done. Ask yourself “How do I become a master of MY craft?"
  • Pendo Mobile Announcement - lots of hype around this
  • “How do I message the right customers in the right place at the right time?”
  • “How do I view product usage across my entire portfolio?"
  • New version of the Pendo agent for mobile apps.
  • Tag interactively in the Pendo Designer with your mobile phone plugged in
  • Pendo Platform - bring data in from other systems and view in-context with the rest of Pendo data
  • Pendo Pro Services - instructor-led Pendo classes
  • Pendo Slack, Communities & User Groups

Chef Vivian Howard

“I wanted to be a storyteller”

  • North Carolina farmer -> successful restaurant -> successful PBS TV show

Breakout Sessions

Feature Goals and Dashboards: Engage Your Stakeholder Teams

Led by Illuminate Education

  • Pendo has a “Feature Goals” feature. Show of hands if we use it? Almost nobody in this session uses it.
  • Create a goal from the page or feature you’ve tagged in Pendo. Share this as an ongoing or time bound goal.
  • Make sure we have good metadata for segmentation (SCP is in the process of adding User Provisioning data)
  • Use-cases: feature deprecation, legacy vs new usage, compare client usage via segments, share visitor/client lists
  • Engage your stakeholders. We have the data!
  • Use page and feature goals as KPI’s and add them to dashboards

Complex Deployments and Multiple Teams

  • Infor Talent Sciences uses data to predict candidate potential
  • They’re using guides to target some of their internal teams
  • Talk of scalability. Should different departments own different parts of Pendo?
  • Infor relies on a Pendo swat team to make sure guides don’t conflict…
  • Control user-permissions until people are ready

Using experimentation to deliver value at supersonic speeds

“Are we just delivering crap faster?”

  • Continuous delivery does not mean we are continuously delivering value
  • Start with a simple if...then...hypothesis. Validate with behavioral metrics.
  • TINY feedback cycles
  • Use feature flags for A/B testing. Convince your dev teams to start creating these to support reliable experimentation. Yes, feature flags create tech debt if they’re not well managed. (There are also tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely that can help manage this, but were not mentioned in this session.)
  • Keep your stories small. And when you think they’re small, make them even smaller.

Building a tactical team within Product Management

  • Session led by Shelly Larock, Navex Global. An Ethics and Compliance software company.
  • It was a hard case to get a product operations team. Product managers were doing work they “shouldn’t” be doing. Pendo users for 2 years.
  • Product Operations did not exist. There was no coordinated product management efforts.
  • Other Teams had no idea of the value being delivered. Product Ops helps with this.
  • Product managers should not be doing data analysis. They should not be coordinating sales and services groups around releases…

Closing Session

Fireside chat with:

  • Brian Crofts, Pendo CPO
  • Elias Torres, Drift CPO
  • Ben Galbraith, Segment
  • Falon Fatemi, CEO/Founder Node
  • Daily rituals
  • Interruptions are expensive
  • Prepare for days the evening before
  • Drift CTO works without a computer. Day driven by calendar.
  • WORK. OUT. (Stay healthy.) Find time. Every one of these people preach the values.
  • Details. How do you know what matters?
  • “Hard to grow in leadership roles sometimes because I love the details of product management”
  • Goal-setting. Leadership provides one vision: “focus on net retention”. All the teams set their own goals that need to align to the vision.
  • “Seeing opportunities where others don’t.” Thinking differently. Not just building another me-too product.
  • Book: Leadership pipeline
  • “Great product managers have to be truth-seekers.”