PROD SS14 Q&A with Lecturers

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PROD SS14 Q&A with Lecturers
Please use this thread to ask administrative questions on PROD.

For self-help questions among students please use the “Product Management” subforum.

We will monitor this forum and try to respond in time.

Could you please provide the spreadsheet with the case-teams on it, which has been completed today. I’d really like to connect with my teammates, but can’t find their names.

Please go through the Course Link Index document where you can find links, including those to the course management spreadsheet with the teams.

Upcoming “Tasks”

one of you asked by email

for the 10 ECTS Project I updated the slides on project work at

where you can find your next upcoming deliverable. It is due next Tuesday.


Mapping from the course schedule to the course topics document
One topic team asked how to clarify which topics should be addressed. The answer to this can be found by looking at the Course Schedule and finding the topic number. For instance topic team 1 presented topic S1: The Business Case (MRD). This topic can be looked up on slides PROD 01B - Course Homework on StudOn (pages 11-12), where you will see the sections of the Course Topics outline which correspond with the assigned topic. In this example, S1 includes section 1.1 of the topic document.

The reason for this is that the Course Schedule describes what topics will be covered in PROD, whereas the Course Topics document is a list of all topics which we’d like to cover in a course on product management, but which might not fit within the scope of this particular class due to time constraints.

Group submissions on Crowdgrader
One team asked the following question (paraphrased) about the topic papers:

Crowdgrader doesn’t accept group submissions. Should everyone upload the same file (which could lead to the same student being asked to review it multiple times, and other members of the team being asked to review their own work), or should just one person upload it? Is there an option to upload it once and tag it with all team members?

I would say that just one person ought to upload it; we know who is in a team together and as administrators we see who uploaded the paper. So all members of the team will get credit for the work.

Case analysis: how to do it
I’ve added three suggestions to the Case preparation instructions document to help you with your preparation. The first was already in the recommended book and the last was noted in the feedback on the first case but now it’s written explicitly.

For everyone: An important thing to keep in mind is that while some aspects of the case are true, other ‘facts’ are presented as the opinions of people in the case and may be challenged.

In general you can trust figures which are given in the case, unless you know that they are calculations made by the protagonist, in which case they fall under the category of opinion. Where there is no information available which would allow you to determine if the information is factual, it can generally be assumed to be. A fact looks like this: “The CFO insisted that each developer must bring in 2.5 times the employee cost in revenue.” An opinion looks like this: “The biggest financial risk would not come from changing the vendor, but from failing to include all the expected improvements in the next release.” Upon reading the second statement you should be wondering if the risk has been correctly calculated/understood. If there is information in the case which would allow you to draw your own conclusion (such as estimates about how many customers would be lost if the improvements were not included, and the amount of revenue those customers bring), you should perform the analysis.

When writing your case: If you have to make any assumptions to proceed, state them explicitly.

You will have to make some assumptions in order to do the analysis because no case includes all the data (just like real life). It’s important to be logical in your assumptions (and if there are multiple plausible interpretations which give very different results, you should explore them all) and to be explicit about what you’re assuming. An example might be: “I assumed the 19.2% VAT did not apply to these sales, because they are business-to-business.”

For teams presenting cases: The classroom discussion should include systematic analysis of whatever factual information is in the case (if there are numbers, calculate them) and an application of the theories (in the concepts document) to the case material, not just people stating opinions.

This cannot be stressed enough. It’s easy to have an opinion about a situation, especially from the benefit of hindsight. However, no company will let you make decisions on this basis. Case-based learning is designed to simulate the situations you may find yourself in, and to apply the tools a product manager might use.

Question about project’s report and presentation
Dear Professor,

We are Project Team 2 who take the topic “stage goes mobile”

We have some more questions consider our finial report and presentation:

Should we contains all our understanding about MRD and PRD, our whole solving process for industry partner and our result in both report and presentation? Or just our understanding of them?

And how many pages should we write for report? Is it count in group or in individual? How many minutes should we present?

Best Regards,
Project Team 2

Dear Xueman,

your final report, consisting of MRD and PRD, is that: A report on your findings. Process reflections etc. are not part of the report. If you think you need to discuss the process or any other “meta topic”, please put it into an appendix.

As to the number of pages: Use as many pages as it needs. In general, shorter is better.

The final day presentation will be either 30 or 45min of presentation. We don’t know yet.


Individual Case Analysis
One of the students asked of the case analysis: " I was wondering if there were any formal requirements along with it : references, pages, writting style, margins, etc…"

We have no formal requirements about margins, font-size, spacing and so on. The defaults are probably fine. Your classmates probably won’t appreciate 9-point font with 1 cm margins, and you won’t be able to cover the material if you use 18-point font. So pick something reasonable. The course homework slides (on StudOn) have a few basic requirements about length and formatting: up to 5 pages of text (10 including figures), DinA4 PDF submitted to Crowdgrader, no author name on the submission.

Writing style is covered in the instructions for content.

References should always be included when you are working in an academic environment. Any of the standard formats should be fine. APA and IEEE are popular ones that we often make use of.

Individual case analysis on Eva’s Way
Several students have asked if an individual case analysis of Eva’s Way should include only part I or also parts II and III. Because parts II and III provide some solutions to the problems posed in the first part of the case, covering only part I would be any easy option compared to doing an analysis of any of the other cases in this class. Therefore your paper should certainly consider the issues in the earlier parts of the case (in particular ones which you feel were neglected by later parts of the case - you will note that each part of the case considers a narrower portion of the problem in greater detail), but the third part of the case offers the most opportunity for you to demonstrate your analysis and reasoning because it ends with an open question.

As a reminder, when your questions are potentially of interest to other students, please post them here so I don’t need to answer multiple times (and the answers are also available to students who didn’t ask). The board is checked frequently so you should get answers in a timely manner.


question concerning the Topic paper:

As for the presentation, you told us that we should also explain very general things and give definitions, because PROD is done by several students with different backgrounds.
How about the paper we need to hand in? Sames requirements or can we expect an ‘informed reader’?


Simple term definitions are not needed—your fellow classmates should be familiar with the terminology or should be able to look things up when reviewing your work.

Please note that I not only take student reviews into account when grading, but also how you evaluate the reviews.

Case reviews

concerning the case reviews, how detailed are we supposed to comment on the analysis?
And did we have the opportunity to write the case analysis in German?


You can find the instructions for case reviews in the Crowdgrader slides on StudOn. You will probably need at least half a page to do a good review.

In the course introduction we noted that the default language for the class is English, but it is always possible to use German. So yes, you may find that some case analyses are written in German. The solution we proposed in one of the early classes (which I repeat here for the benefit of others) is for students who are not able to read the German case analyses is to skip over those analyses and let Crowdgrader assign alternate analyses. Because there are only a few analyses in German, and only a few students who are unable to assess German writing, this should not affect the system.

Topic Review on Crowdgrader
I’m not sure if there was already someone who noticed that but I have a problem with Crowdgrader:

  1. I wanted to review the topic papers so I was given the first paper by Crowdgrader
    → reviewed it.
  2. The second paper I was given by Crowdgrader was my own topic.
    → declined to review it.
  3. At next, Crowdgrader gave me a new topic paper
    → reviewed it
  4. The next paper I was requesting from Crowdgrader was again my first reviewed paper from step one
    → declined again to review
  5. The next requested paper was the one I already reviewed at step three.
    → tried to decline - but I cannot as I am only allowed to decline twice.

What to do now??

Hi Bernhard,

thanks for the info. I’m not sure I fully understand but it sounds like what you describe shouldn’t happen.

In step 2. were you given your own submission? Or is it a submission by your team mates?

In step 4, you were seriously given the very same paper that you had already reviewed?


These are the papers I was given by Crowdgrader (in this order):

  1. Topic: Roles and Responsibilities (I reviewed it)
  2. Topic: PRD (Declined because it was the topic I was presenting - my team colleague uploaded it, so I understand that Crowdgrader cannot know this)
  3. Topic: Innovation (I reviewed it)
  4. Topic: Enterprise Product Pricing and Sales (I reviewed it)
  5. Topic: Innovation (Declined because I have already reviewed it)
  6. Topic: Roles and Responsibilities (I have already reviewed this, too. Cannot decline…)

I heard of one more student (so far) who has similar problems

I see. Some students did not write their own summary but actually submitted team work rather than individual work. We didn’t see this yet but would have during our own reviews. (Which we do after yours.) I raised your reject limit, you can do more. It is OK to reuse your prior review.