Handling the Product Development Process

At a recent PM Internship interview, I was asked to provide a brief overview of how I would oversee the creation of a P2P payment solution that would serve 1 million users, from concept to launch.

I adopted the Product School’s Product Development approach, which divides the process into seven phases, starting with discovery and ending with launch.

The interviewer’s response wasn’t very positive because he thought I couldn’t tailor the procedure especially to the 1 million consumers and that it sounded too general.

What method would you use here? Which procedure would have been most appropriate?


To start, I’d just usually advise against using an exact model that you find online. Some interviewers dislike it, many applicants use acronyms as if they were ordinary (they aren’t, outside of interview preparation), and if you’re not careful, it can show a lack of experience [fine for internships though!]. For example, in this Product School model, I would combine the discovery and research stages to produce a specified MVP instead of having the define, design, and discovery phases exist separately (sorry) (including design). But you can change these whatever you like.

With relation to this specific query, you must ascertain the interviewer’s motivation for asking about 1 million users. Are they attempting to determine your familiarity with user research or are they wishing to pursue further technical inquiries around scaling?

To gain that kind of clarity, I’d ask some follow-up questions (and make sure to always ask “why am I building this product”), then indicate how you will respond to the question (for example, list your seven steps before diving in) so that they may redirect you or tell you what to short summarize.

A payment product for 1 million customers is a relatively low constraint in this scenario, so I’d concentrate on the reason for the restriction, with my best assumption being that the interviewer is prepared with a very specific market segment.


That’s a good response @KaneMorgan; it’s about where I’d expect an intern to be. The important thing to keep in mind is that you will need to repeat that cycle hundreds to thousands of times to move from 0 to 1,000,000 users. For tens of experiments, you’ll probably be at several phases of that cycle at once.

Also, you’ll have a more expansive hypothesis for the product’s overall outcome, significant features, and various users. It is loop after loop. Turtles at every level.

Hence, while likely required, that structure alone is insufficient.

You might also discuss the metrics you would use to measure success and discuss the main personas (tax-payers, banks, money senders, and money receivers) and how you would measure success for them. Consider making a rough sketch of your ideal users and their objectives.


When managing the product development process for a P2P payment product that would host 1 million users, it’s important to consider the unique challenges that come with scaling to such a large user base. Here’s an approach you can use to create a tailored product development process:

  1. Discovery: Understand the needs of the target market and identify key pain points and opportunities for improvement that the product can address. Gather insights from user research, market analysis, and competitive research to inform the product vision.
  2. Define: Create a clear product roadmap that outlines the key features and functionalities that will be developed and released over time. Prioritize the features based on their impact on the user experience and business goals and ensure that the roadmap is flexible enough to accommodate changing market conditions.
  3. Design: Develop user personas and user flows to guide the design of the product’s user interface and user experience. Create wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to test and refine the design with users and ensure that the design is scalable to accommodate the needs of a large user base.
  4. Implementation: Develop the product using an Agile methodology, with frequent sprints and a focus on delivering working software that meets user needs. Use automated testing and continuous integration to ensure that the product is stable and reliable, and that new features can be added without disrupting the user experience.
  5. Market: Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes social media, email campaigns, and other channels to reach potential users. Use data-driven marketing techniques to optimize the conversion funnel and maximize user acquisition.
  6. Train: Provide training and support to users to ensure that they are able to use the product effectively. Develop documentation and tutorials that are easy to understand and accessible to all users, regardless of their level of technical expertise.
  7. Launch: Plan a successful launch that generates buzz and excitement around the product. Monitor user feedback and usage metrics to identify areas for improvement and plan for future releases.

By tailoring your product development process to the specific needs of a P2P payment product that would host 1 million users, you can ensure that the product is scalable, reliable, and meets the needs of its users.


Do not simply knock down frames (but to be honest for an INTERN this answer was ok)

Try to apply it without overly outlining.

Typically, you start at a base. How many users do we now have, and how many are B2C users, B2B customers, etc.? Then you list a few actions you would take. This reading may be of interest to you: Why you should stop using product roadmaps and try the GIST Framework

It’s a different paradigm, but it effectively shows why you shouldn’t approach anything this vast like a road map (a sequential plan of tasks)

You basically outline the first several steps, MVP, adjust, MVP, adjust, MVP, adjust.

Nevertheless, as an intern, I wouldn’t even anticipate that degree of an answer. Instead, you might explain this using real-world instances of a product.


Thank you so much for your responses.


This process sounds very waterfallish. i would have used an agile process. I would have story mapped it, then prioritized the work so that I could have gotten an MVP, then kept on improving it from there.


This sounds like a much better approach. Thank you, @Luisneilson.

If you don’t mind me asking, How long have you been in PM?


Agile and stage-gate processes (what you describe) are not necessarily at odds.

The idea of having feedback loops and rapid development / prototyping / iteration is very much built into the core of it, let alone the more lightweight versions.

Honestly, the interview question seems weird - the goal is to scale up to 1m users, presumably, not to launch with 1m captive users already secured. So, you need to be talking about how the iteration happens as you discover via either VOC research or utilization data how customer satisfaction works, etc. This is the work that’s generally happening in post-launch review and then informing additional development sprints to further refine.

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I’ve been a PM for 8 long years. :slight_smile:

You raise a valid point about the importance of incorporating feedback loops and iteration into the product development process, especially when aiming to scale up to 1 million users. As you mentioned, the goal is not to launch with 1 million captive users already secured, but rather to continuously iterate and improve the product based on customer feedback and data insights.

To address this in the interview, you could highlight the importance of incorporating user feedback into each phase of the product development process, and how this feedback can be used to inform product decisions and drive improvements. For example, during the design phase, you could conduct usability testing with a sample of potential users to validate and refine the product’s user experience. Similarly, during the implementation phase, you could use A/B testing to experiment with different product features and functionalities to see which ones resonate best with users.

Overall, the key is to have a flexible and agile product development process that allows for continuous iteration and improvement based on user feedback and data insights, rather than treating the launch as a one-time event.

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