The Discipline of Product Management
Product development is the process of designing, building, operating, and maintaining a good or service. Software and Internet companies use a product development process to ensure that they are not just manufacturing a technology, but creating a product that people will want to buy and continue to use. To be sure, a base technology is at the heart of the product, but product development ensures that the customer’s voice is not lost in the rush to an exciting technology. Product development adds things like pricing, marketing, and customer support to the technology to create a complete product.
Without a product management philosophy and discipline, ...view middle of the document...
Product management as a discipline is about what the product should be. Product managers are advocates for the customer’s needs and desires. A large product might have numerous product managers working towards its success at a variety of levels, all the way from the junior product manager writing specifications about single feature sets to a product strategy director who has overall responsibility to executive management for the product direction. A product manager’s responsibilities include the following:
• Defining and planning product lines and product enhancements
• Managing product contracts and sales
• Setting strategic direction based on customer needs and business goals
• Interpreting strategic goals into operational tasks
• Making proposals to senior management regarding implications of proposed plans
• Serving as a representative to internal and external clients.Taking the lead in establishing tactical plans and objectives
• Developing and implementing administrative and operational matters ensuring achievement of objectives
• Evaluating risks and trade-offs
• Proposing contingency plans
• Analyzing business processes and creating applications to improve or support those processes
• Working with graphic designers to create look and feel
• Defining navigational flow and user experience
• Defining feature sets and scooping releases
People not familiar with the discipline of product management frequently get a product manager confused with other players. Its useful to look at what a product manager is not. A product manager is not:
A developer – Developers are focused on the technology and not the overall product. Some great product managers are former developers, but it is difficult to do both at once. There is a natural tension between developers and product managers that should be maintained to create a balanced product.
A software manager – the software manager is a functional manager and usually not focused on the product or the customers.
A project manager – project managers are about how and when, while the product manager is about what. Project managers work closely with product managers to ensure successful completion of different phases in the product life cycle.
A marketer – while product management is usually seen as a marketing discipline, marketers are focused on the marketing plan and are usually not driving the overall product direction.
Product managers are accountable to executive management for overall product direction, key decisions, product budget (and sometimes even the complete product P&L), ensuring that final product meets specifications, and evangelizing product to internal and external stakeholders. Product managers also have accountability to users for feature sets, navigation, quality, and overall experience.
Customer Life Cycle: Just as products have life cycle, customers also have a life cycle. In its most simple forms the customer life cycle...