What exactly is product management?
Product management is essential to the development, specification, delivery,supervision, and improvement of products in an organization.
Each stage of the product lifecycle is supported, from conception to launch.
Products Management tells the company how to use its resources to improve competitiveness and satisfy customers. It also helps the business achieve its goals by working with other divisions to make it happen.
If you want to make a successful product, you need to hire a Product Manager who will put your users at the center. When a product is built with the customer in mind, it'll beat the competition.
Product managers make sure the product is updated frequently and look after all aspects of it. The update will also help in keeping up with technology changes and introducing new features.
A company would have a hard time identifying their target market's needs and coming up with an efficient product without it. It's for this reason that product managers are so important.
The history of product management
Product management started in the early days of software. Back then, no one was in charge of overseeing the product or making sure it met customer needs. They would simply build products and release them on the market to see what happened.
This all changed in the late 1970s when businesses realized they needed someone to oversee product development. Digital product managers used to be called "software project managers," as they were in charge of making sure software products satisfied the customer. However, these early product managers lacked authority in their firms. The engineers who created the products often treated them like second-class citizens.
As agile software development became popular in the early 1990s, things started changing. The agile movement arose in response to the traditional, waterfall method of software development. As part of the waterfall approach, product managers collected consumer requirements, passed them on to engineers, and then waited for the product to be created. As a result, customers usually weren't satisfied with the products.
In contrast, agile emphasizes a more collaborative relationship between product managers and developers. In an agile organization, product managers work closely with engineers to make products that customers want. Collaborating between product managers and engineers is one of the highlights of product management.
Who is a Product Manager?
The product manager is the product's champion, spokesperson, and nurturer, and is ultimately responsible for its success in an organization. As long as the person is empowered to make a difference and isn't blocked by internal or external pressures.
Products are the responsibility of the product manager. A big chunk of the credit goes to them if the project works out. But if it fails, they should take full responsibility. As a result, the product manager needs to be a vigilant advocate for the product, focusing on improving the user experience constantly.
It'slike they're servants of two masters, balancing the needs of the customer and the business. Bridging this gap can be tough though. An effective product manager creates a vision of success for the product, and then rallies other stakeholders to achieve it.
Product Manager vs. Product Owner
It might feel like you've started to get the hang of this whole "product manager" thing, but then you discover the term "product owner." Is it the same thing? Isn't the person who owns something also responsible for managing it? Who's the "owner"? Are they paid royalties?
They're totally different. In organizations that practice Agile Methodology, "product owner" is a different organizational function than product manager.
Product owners in Agile-led organizations take a tactical, practical approach to product development. In partnership with cross-functional Agile teams, it translates the product's vision into actionable tasks (project managers, UX architects, designers, developers, QA specialists, merchandising departments and more).
Another way to say it is that the product owner is responsible for the Agile backlog, not the product itself. Additionally, product owners may own specific components of a product rather than the whole thing.
As an example, at Walmart.com, a "top of funnel" product manager may be in charge of the homepage, browsing and searching, or basket and checkout experience, but not the entire website.
Responsibilities of a Product Manager
A product manager's responsibilities depend on a lot of things. When you keep the Product Manager’s purpose in mind which is building the product, their responsibilities will change depending on how big the company and the team is. A Product Manager's role can also be influenced by other factors, like whether Agile product development is used.
The following factors determine how a product manager will work in your organization:
Technical or not
Product Managers can be technical or non-technical, depending on the team's skills and the company's resources. The Product Manager might be the lead engineer, which would require a different skill set than a PM who schedules and motivates.
The smaller the team, the bigger the responsibilities. On the other hand, if the team is bigger, the Product Manager's role might be more specialized.
Specialist or not
The bigger the company, the more specialized the Product Manager's job can be. In the beginning of a project, a PM might do all these things:
- A designer thinking of a solution
- An engineer building the solution
- A businessman who explains the problem in terms of market demand and finances
- A researcher who interviews customers and surveys their satisfaction
Eventually, Product Managers' main job will be to figure out what the best product is and pass that information on to engineers so they can build it.
Key skills of effective product managers
Top tier Product managers usually have the following skills:
- Good communication
- Cross-discipline knowledge
Product Managers convey a lot of information between business people and engineers, so there may be ideas they don't fully grasp. Effective project managers communicate well and organize well so that the right information gets passed on without getting lost or misunderstood.
A Product Manager's main responsibility is keeping engineers and business people informed about what's going on with a product so they can act. Managing a project effectively requires communication; without it, you might need to find another job.
Finally, Product Managers communicate with two parties who have different expertise. A PM has to be able to adapt both the language (technical jargon) and the style of communication.
The engineer places a high value on job items and problem-solving specifics, while the businessman places a high value on profit-loss figures, generic high-level thinking, and user feedback. The average engineer prefers the "how," while the average businessperson prefers the "why." Product managers will be more successful if they can work with both.
Empathy is a key talent that's often overlooked. Product Managers work with people with a wide range of personalities and specialties. Top-down management—announcing deadlines and must-have features without involving others—is usually a recipe for disaster. The most effective project managers strive to understand each individual with whom they work.
There may be one engineer who needs a long leash. Some corporate leaders need constant updates. When you treat these people the same way, at least one of them will push back. PMs should try to understand engineers and businessmen, especially when their priorities differ. Engineers work on perfecting features, but businessmen have deadlines.
B2B vs. B2C
Product managers have different strategies depending on whether their products are B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). Products sold to businesses (often software, services, or raw materials) are B2B, while products sold to individuals are B2C.
Here are the main differences between a B2B and B2C product manager:
- Sales and client acquisition: B2B product managers must be aware of long sales cycles and the product-related documentation that marketing and sales teams need. In contrast, B2C product managers might work on shortening sales cycles and creating more conversion-friendly content.
- Post-sale customer service: B2B product managers need a deep understanding of customer interaction and relationship-building after-sales because B2B products often require hands-on onboarding and post-sales support. In contrast, B2C product managers are used to dealing with customer support more as a transaction, so they'll focus on quickly answering customer questions.
- Roadmap: It is important for both B2B and B2C product managers to strike a balance between customer retention and new customer acquisition when considering new features. When it comes to B2B products, losing a customer has a much bigger impact than losing a customer for a B2C product.
Careers in Product Management
If you're interested in becoming a product manager, consider these job paths:
- Entry-level: Associateor Junior Product Managers help and assist the Product Manager.
- Mid-level: Product Manager
- Leadership: Product Leader, Chief Product Officer, VP of products - these are higher level roles that focus on product strategy of an organization.
Product owners and technical product managers are two other product management responsibilities. Product owners are more concerned with the short term than product managers are with the long term. They concentrate on the finer elements of product development, converting the product manager's vision into a backlog for the engineering team.
Technical product managers usually have software development backgrounds. Their focus is on how the product works and how it fits into the company's ecosystem of software, so they need more technical skills than a conventional Product Manager.
Product managers get a lot of creative freedom. They're involved in development, marketing, sales, and engineering without ultimate responsibility. That said, it's a high-impact role. Many product managers are held accountable for product success. In addition, the product manager speaks for customers, advocates for the product, and makes it better. There's no more important role in achieving business goals than this one.
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