Friday, August 8, 2014

Understanding Product management

Often intrigued by the role of Product Manager, the so-called mini-CEO, I haven’t found any source that exactly defines what Product Management is.  An online search for understanding this role makes the task more confusing and difficult attributing its incredible breadth, specifically in the context of the technology industry. The best definition so far for the role is given by Marty Cagan in his book “Inspired” as the job of the product manager is “to discover a product that is valuable, usable and feasible”.

As I understand, the Product Manager identifies a market problem, quantifies the opportunity to make sure it’s big enough to generate profit, and then articulates the problem to the rest of the organization to build a product that caters to the precise problem of the customer. The job of a product manager is central to the business requiring interaction with senior management, technology and marketing functions. A candidate desiring to excel at product management needs to be equally conversant in all three dimensions equaled.

Product Management Triad

Product Management job:
The job of a Product Manager starts with setting a vision for the product, engaging him into lots of research to identify right market, target customers and the problem they have that he is trying to solve. Product managers process huge amount of information in the form of client feedback, quantitative data from web analytics, research reports, market trends and statistics, and extract useful insight to define a vision for the product. Once the product is envisioned, Product Manager performs forecasting and financial projections based on market research and shares the same along with vision with senior executives to secure budgets, staff and targets.

Based on the vision, commitments and budgets, Product Manager builds a roadmap and iterative plan along with user-stories and other documents to enable development teams for incremental improvements and iterative development. As the product progresses with the development and incorporating customer voice, Product Manager gets detail oriented redefining and refining scope ensuring not to derail from the original vision of the product.

Product Manager also prepares a Go-to-market strategy for the product identifying customer segmentation, messaging goal and strategy along with a value proposition for the customers to share with marketing and sales team who eventually interact with customers, the end-users of the product. Once the product is out in the market, product managers start pouring over data on consumer insights again, carefully observing product use, reaching out to customers, taking their feedback and analyzing back again the initial assessment about the problem that they were trying to solve, connecting the product with the user and monetizing the product or underlying technology.

Surely, it sounds a tough job, but there is more fun, dirt and money involved because in all eventualities, the product manager owns the market acceptance of the product. Product Managers interact with people from almost every domain of the business ecosystem, right from CEOs to technologists to marketers to the whole crowd of your product users making them the unsung hero of business world.

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