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Shipping Greatness: Practical lessons on building and launching outstanding software, learned on the job at Google and Amazon [Kindle Edition]

Chris Vander Mey
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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  • Print ISBN-10: 1449336574
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-1449336578
  • Edition: 1
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Book Description

Need a shortcut to a degree in shipping great software? Successful team leaders must have an extremely broad skill set to find the right product, work through a complex and ever-changing development process, and do it all incredibly quickly. In this guide, Chris Vander Mey provides a simplified, no-BS approach to the entire software lifecycle, distilled from lessons he learned as a manager at Amazon and Google.

In the first part of the book, you’ll learn a step-by-step shipping process used by many of the best teams at Google and Amazon. Part II shows you the techniques, best practices, and skills you need to face an array of challenges in product, program, project, and engineering management.

  • Clearly define your product and develop your mission and strategy
  • Assemble your team and understand enough about systems to communicate with them
  • Create a beautiful, intuitive, and simple user experience
  • Track your team’s deliverables and closely manage the testing process
  • Communicate clearly to gracefully handle requests, senior-management interactions, and feedback from various sources
  • Build metrics to track progress, spot problems, and celebrate success
  • Stick to your launch checklist and plan for marketing and PR


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Shipping Greatness is a perfectly-sized primer on how to lead a software project...it's quite possibly the Dungeon Master's Guide of anyone's set of software books." -- Matt Shobe, co-founder of FeedBurner

"Shipping Greatness condenses years of experience on working with world class products into an accessible, practical guide. Whether you're looking for reference as an aspiring software leader, or need a handbook to keep everyone on the same page, it is a must-have guide for software leaders." -- Mike Smith, CTO Disney Interactive

"If you are about to start a project and only have time to read a single book, this is the one." --Lars Thorup, software consultant, CEO

"This book provides the tools and insight to be a better leader." --David Lutz, Senior Systems Engineer, Splunk

"It's the perfect book for folks who have an idea for a product, know they can build it, and are jazzed to get started." -- Tamara Adlin, author of The Persona Lifecycle

"Nevertheless, if you are a product manager or a startup building products , we strongly recommend you to get hold of this book (link). This is a must read." - Ashish Sinha, founder of Pluggd.in

From the Back Cover

This is your shortcut to a degree in shipping great software. Team leaders today need an extremely broad skill set to find the right product, work through a complex and ever-changing development process, and do it all quickly. In this guide, Chris Vander Mey provides a simplified, no-BS approach to the entire software lifecycle, distilled from lessons he learned as a manager at Amazon and Google.
 
In the first part of the book, you'll learn a step-by-step shipping process used by many of the best teams at Google and Amazon. Part II shows you the techniques, best practices, and skills you need to face an array of challenges in product, program, project, and engineering management.
  • Clearly define your product and develop your mission and strategy
  • Assemble your team and become sufficiently technical to work with them
  • Create a beautiful, intuitive, and simple user experience
  • Track your team's deliverables and closely manage the testing process
  • Communicate clearly to gracefully handle requests, senior-management BS, and other feedback
  • Build metrics to track progress, spot problems, and celebrate success
  • Stick to your launch checklist and plan your marketing and PR

Product Details

  • File Size: 1954 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (August 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091YS2CO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,859 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
In the interest of Federal Trade Commission guidelines and covering my legal bases, I got this book free of charge via my involvement in the O'Reilly Media Blogger Review Program. That said, this review is entirely my opinion, after my reading of the book. I would also like to assure everyone that I was not paid to give any particular rating to the work, and that my rating is my personal choice.

Now let's get to the good stuff, which is the review itself.

If a university ever decided to teach a course on shipping great software, I enthusiastically nominate Chris Vander Mey for professor. After all, this book is practically a course already, with the added benefit of being speedy and concise.

Within its pages, you'll find not just the attitudes you need to build and launch outstanding software, but also the specific frameworks, along with the things you need to get done at each stage. It will also arm you with a load of examples for your benefit, including some cases from Vander Mey's own work at Amazon and Google.

More than that, Chris will be with you every step of the way, from the moment you begin to define the right product, all the way to dealing with crises during launch. At each stage of the process, he'll first show you the scaffolding you need to get in place, and then end strong by teaching you how to turn good to great.

In terms of the writing style, the attention to detail is sure to appeal to the analytic techies out there. Even if you're a veteran at the process, this book still has enough substance to make you feel at home. Even so, the simplicity of presentation will surely resound with anyone at any level.

Nowhere did the author cram the book with too much jargon, so even the newbies will find themselves comfortable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid advice, but not earthshakingly new January 17, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a little book of just over 200 pages that contains solid advice on the process of creating software products. I deliberately omitted the word "great" here and all its variations, though the author promises that his advice will help you lead a team that will create great software.

I have no argument with the author's advice. Two generations ago, Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft CEO, learned much the same lessons at Proctor & Gamble, then as now one of the great American marketing companies that maintains its leadership by introducing a constant stream of new products, all of which are "great" and most of which quickly die in the marketplace.

There is no question that if you faithfully follow the author's guidance, your product development process will be smoother. But there is no guaranty that your product will be "great".

One of the more amusing and potentially useful aspects of this book is its being loaded with tons of contemporary buzzwords.

Overall, I think this is a fun and helpful book, particularly for those new to the product (and business) development process. If I sound a bit jaded, it is because I have lived through three generations of books like this and read those of the two generations before mine.

The basic ideas don't change: only the jargon does.

Jerry
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of great practical advice September 8, 2012
Format:Paperback
As a product manager, I really liked this book. Software product management is, as the author says, a "new craft", and finding good references on it is hard.

This book shares more practical advice on software product management than any "mentoring" conversation I've ever had. For one thing, the author isn't shy about talking about his own past mistakes, and how he learned from them; and insightful about the reasons for his success. He explains his tricks and techniques in very specific terms, with actual spreadsheets in some cases. A very useful book, and a let's-not-take-ourselves-too-seriously tone that makes it an enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Primer to Program/Product Management September 27, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
As a part time software 'producer' at a interactive design firm I find the book interesting, engaging, relevant to my work leading dynamic software projects. what caught my attention was the quote about this being a dungeon master guide to product management and I'd have to agree. I'd have to say the book really is more engaging if your in the fields and definitely a must read...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy reference for product managers September 17, 2012
By tjain
Format:Paperback
Shipping Greatness: Practical lessons on building and launching outstanding software, learned on the job at Google and Amazon by Chris Vander Mey is as name suggests, is collection of Chris' experiences at Amazon and Google. This book is comprehensive list of best practices from Amazon and Google for developing and launching new product from a product manager perspective.

I like to cover this from a two opposing views:

What is good in the book?

List of best practices from Amazon and Google
Lucid flow
Conversational
Emphasis on quality - quantative and qualitative and acceptability by customer not just on shipping the product
Consumer/user is center of all discussions and decisions

What is not considered?
Book assumes that project is being executed in fairly large organization so availability of resources is easy (if you can access them).

Considering context of book, it will certainly remain on by book shelf for long time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enough to turn you into a product management Jedi
Chris covers nearly all aspects of what it takes to lead a product from start to finish. Despite being written from a product manager point of view, it is highly effective for... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stanley Tan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas in an easy to read book
I have been a PM for a few decades now. This book is a quick read and refreshes all the basics of getting software out the door and to customers. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Earl Tolley
4.0 out of 5 stars good overview of creating new software products
Author has a deep understanding of the topic and described his experience in an easy to read way.

I do have a technical background so that impacts how I approached the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bruno Deszczynski
5.0 out of 5 stars very good manual about shipping software
Chris describes very well in his book how to lead development team through allthe milestones of project development cycle. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Alexey Solovtsov
5.0 out of 5 stars Good solid advice. Nothing new here, but a good recap of...
Some reviewers are complaining that nothing in this book is new. That is true, but is also true about most books. Read more
Published 19 months ago by S. Power
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic resource for those in this particular line of work
This is a terrific book written for a very narrow and particular audience - the software/consumer web Product Manager or those aspiring to be. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Sibelius
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative, reader friendly and packed full of useful insight
The title is a bit odd and unless you work in the industry or take time to read the book description, a casual glance might give the impression that it is a book about... Read more
Published 21 months ago by javajunki
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting lessons and a Good Read
This little book is very interesting. It offers great advice and examples on releasing software. It covers everything from the acquisition of the team to develop the software,... Read more
Published 21 months ago by David Bradshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars I Learned a Lot
"If fame, fortune and the pursuit of happiness are the question, shipping great software is the answer. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Ruthie Ramirez
4.0 out of 5 stars Successful software product managers - How to keep your job
Chris Vander Mey is a former Google product manager and Amazon engineering manager is ideally positioned to write a "How to" book about shipping great software products. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Dr. Yuval Lirov
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More About the Author

Chris Vander Mey is a former Senior Product Manager at Google and Engineering Manager (a.k.a. "Two Pizza Team Lead") at Amazon. He has shipped software that hundreds of millions of people use. At Google he shipped Google Apps Marketplace, Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, Google+ Hangouts. At Amazon he shipped multiple versions of customer reputation systems and the Real Names product. He has led teams to develop software in many consumer and enterprise areas, including Google Maps, iOS & Android, and highly scalable data storage systems. He holds numerous system patents and a Master of Engineering Management degree from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.

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