The explosive growth in the software and IT sectors has resulted in a sustained uptick in the demand for skilled product managers.
This is because top-level executives have come to recognize the importance of product managers in achieving business goals and objectives, satisfying customers, and facilitating digitalization and innovation.
But how would you describe product management?
Simply put, product management ensures that the solutions a company develops address customers' pain points comprehensively. The term encompasses all the work that goes into a product's ideation, development, launch, positioning, and upkeep.
Product management is an essential business function since it helps companies find new revenue streams by identifying opportunities and designing and developing products and solutions with the end customer in mind.
Consequently, product management integrates the technological facets of development with an understanding of the market dynamics, trends, and how the product satisfies the demands of businesses.
To meet the demands of their clients, product managers frequently require access to data-driven research and insights. Achieving effective product management requires a perfect harmony of the following aspects:
- Technical expertise and understanding to collaborate with development teams
- A customer-centric approach to hold their hand throughout conception, testing, validation, and launching stages
- Data-driven decision-making capability to walk the right path
- Influential stakeholder management to be on the same page with software development, business operations, sales and marketing, and customer support teams
- Effective prioritization based on business objectives, resources at hand, and market trends
- Efficient product strategizing at every stage of the process
- Industry knowledge to create and grab opportunities.
This holistic guide lets you dive deeper into key aspects of product management. Read further to find out more.
What's the Strategic Function of Product Management?
Product management is a pivotal strategic role that offers product managers the responsibility of figuring out the "Why?" behind a product.
The business relies on them to relay product-related information to the stakeholders and development teams. They ensure that everyone part of the product development and management project strives toward a common objective.
Project managers with innovative responsibilities in companies are responsible for the more hands-on aspects of the job, such as planning and coordinating resources.
They shouldn't be expected to handle the nuts and bolts of the development cycle. When tasks get divided in this way, the product manager enjoys the liberty to concentrate on the big picture.
What is the Process Behind Product Management?
The perfect methodology for product management does not exist. Processes emerge and evolve to accommodate the needs of the business, the current stage of the product lifecycle, and the opinions of the product team and the administrators that oversee them.
However, a typical process employed while developing products for customers looks like this:
- Identifying and Defining the Customer Pain-Point
Step one is to zero in on a problem that really matters to your target customer segment.
Nothing out there fully meets the mark, whether the goal is to attract the right demographic, keep the masses engaged, or something else entirely. People always desire more of what they don't have or better products than those they currently possess.
The ultimate goal of product management is to transform these vague issues, needs, and aspirations into a concrete problem statement. Everything that follows is motivated by and inspired by the desire to fix that problem and make that concern disappear.
Neither the product's initial success nor its long-term viability is guaranteed unless the developers can clearly outline a goal that addresses that problem.
- Discovering the Economic Opportunities
There are 'n' number of problems and inefficient processes, but not all of them are worth fixing from the economic viability standpoint. When this happens, product managers halt focusing on customer pain points and start thinking about the bottom line.
Product managers must address some factors to construct a business case in support of the development of a new product or solution is essential. Typically, these include:
- Figuring out the Total Addressable Market (TAM)
- The severity of the problem for customers to adopt alternative solutions developed
- The prospects of monetizing the solution
Only then can they decide whether or not to pursue the market after performing a viability analysis.
- Looking Into Possible Solutions
Now that they have a goal in mind, product managers may dig deep into potential solutions to customer issues. They need to think big and not limit their options too much.
This doesn't imply that PMs should immediately start writing up requirements and involving the product developer team. They should run their potential candidates by the target audience first, but it's also a good idea to run some ideas by the technical team to ensure their feasibility.
To gauge whether there is genuine engagement in any of the proposals, they can create personas to represent different demographic groups and establish a product-market fit.
- Developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
For an MVP, initially, the team should specify the absolute minimal set of features, and only then can a workable prototype of the product be developed and tested in the wild.
The end goal is to make sure the fundamental features are something people actually want. With product marketing, MVPs can also help you evaluate the product's functionality and the value proposition's narrative and placement.
- Collecting and Prioritizing Customer Feedback
Customer input is crucial at all stages of product development, but especially at the initial launch of the MVP.
Here, customers can share their perspectives, demands, and concerns with the product management team in response to a realistic product experience rather than just speculative notions.
The team needs to analyze the data, draw conclusions, and act on the suggestions provided to incorporate them into the product's future development roadmap.
- Time to Devise a Product Strategy
Now that the team understands they have a product that could gain traction, they need to define strategies and targets to refine the product, introduce it to the market, boost its outreach, and ensure that it fits with the business's long-term strategy and specific goals.
It's time to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other benchmarks to measure progress, and the approach should be centered on sustainable, incremental gains toward performance objectives.
- Execution is the Key
The point has arrived to put plans into action now that a marketable product concept, a sustainable feedback management solution, and a solid strategy have been established.
PMs can use prioritizing models to determine which features should be developed first to get the product closer to its most critical objectives. Once the top priorities are decided, product management teams may begin developing the product roadmap.
When systematized around ideas and objectives rather than functionality and delivery schedules, this remarkable tool helps stakeholders see what's at stake and why it's essential to the strategy.
How to Create a Winning Product Strategy?
Top-level managers and product teams often lack a system for determining which initiatives should be prioritized.
You need a vision if you're going to be accountable for creating a product strategy roadmap. So, here are five essential steps to devising a successful product strategy to position your product better for the market:
- Engage with Your Prospects Before Settling on a Product Strategy
Many product managers take the inward route to formulate their product strategy. They confer with higher-ups, engage in group brainstorming with product and marketing teams, and examine market dynamics.
However, this internal focus ignores the product's end-users, who are essential to crafting a successful product strategy.
Hence, before you develop a product strategy and roadmap based on assumptions, the opinions of your leadership, or market intelligence, it's vital that you first communicate to and pay heed to your users to find out what they're looking for.
- Develop a Robust, Compelling Product Vision
The likelihood of gaining executive buy-in for your product increases if you can present an inspiring vision statement for it.
You can also boost the odds that others will contribute to the success of your product by effectively communicating your appealing product vision with development teams, marketing and sales teams, market analysts, and other stakeholders.
All the product decisions your team arrives at will have a firmer strategic footing if you start with a clear picture of the product's future.
- Establish Your Product's Goals
Following the establishment of a product's overarching vision, the next phase in the planning process should be setting strategic objectives the product is intended to achieve.
Capturing a new customer persona and increasing the lifetime value of users may be the most critical goals your product can accomplish, depending on your specific situation.
These product objectives can also serve as critical dimensions of the product's success that can tell you if your product strategy follows the right track or needs to be tweaked.
After you have these objectives established and ideally ranked in terms of priority, you can utilize them to guide your decisions as you develop the product's characteristics, functionality, and other features.
- Create a Roadmap Based on Your Product's Broad Objectives
You have finally reached the point where you can transform your most vital product goals into more specific product specifications.
The projects you're considering incorporating into the product roadmap could benefit from a weighted scoring system. Measure each suggested new design, characteristic, and feature against the defined product goals.
Using a prioritization framework is a terrific method to guarantee that all product strategy decisions are well-informed and well-considered.
- Routine Checks are Essential
During the course of developing a product, many factors are subject to change. These include priorities, available resources, competitor actions, and the endurance of the executive team.
Thus, it is of utmost importance to monitor and track the product vision and strategy you established in the early stages of development.
How are Product Managers Different from Project Managers?
The positions of product manager and project manager are sometimes confused with one another, despite the importance of both to a modern technology business.
They are, in reality, two sides of a single coin, despite some possible overlap in terms of particular abilities like ownership and management.
A product manager is responsible for determining the long-term vision, goals, target market, and direction of a product and its associated business. In contrast, a project manager coordinates the various tasks necessary to bring that direction to realization.
The product manager is primarily a master strategist, and the project manager is more of a pragmatist and implementation expert.
A product manager oversees all phases of a product's lifecycle, from conception to obsolescence.
This role requires them to determine the entire course of a product, establish a vision, oversee any changes, and ensure that the product meets customer expectations up until it is phased out.
In contrast to project management, product management does not often have a pre-defined starting and conclusion.
A project manager is responsible for planning projects from start to finish, including assembling teams, setting deadlines, controlling costs, and keeping everyone in the loop. Typically, each project has a start and end date.
An effective product manager has a balance of technical and soft skills, including market research, product road mapping, collaboration, and time management.
To emerge as a successful and valuable product manager in a technology company, you need to know what issues customers and businesses are facing, how you can best assist in resolving those issues and bringing about the desired outcomes for the business, and who you will need to collaborate with to do that.
Be mindful that both your and the product's success will hinge on your capability to skillfully play the role of product strategist and evangelist.