What Is Product Management?
A company’s end product goes through a long and arduous journey before it reaches the consumer. From the inception of an idea, to its creation, development, marketing and sales, a vast number of trained professionals, each with their specialized skills, work together to transform an initial idea into a product that will profit the business.
This entire process takes place in multiple stages: from creating a vision and defining a roadmap or strategy, to developing the product, and selling it to the target market.
The Product Management team plays an essential role in the company and is responsible for overseeing this whole process.
A Closer Look at Product Management
Product management is a multidisciplinary field. As mentioned above, the journey from the creation of a product to its distribution into the market is a complex process. It requires the coordination of multiple departments, teams, data, and business systems. In order for this process to run as efficiently as possible, it needs to be closely monitored. Everything needs organizing and planning ahead of time.
The process of designing, developing, marketing, and selling a product is called the product life cycle. Product Management is a business structure that organizes every aspect of this process.
The primary focus of Product Management is the end user. In order to create a competitive product on the market, the needs of the customer must be considered. Solutions must be tailored to them every step of the way.
Product Management is the intersection of 3 key areas: business, technology, and user experience.
Business: Product Management is a business function. It focuses on how to maximize value from a product. Product Management helps achieve business objectives by bridging the gap between design, development, the customer, and the business. Project Management helps maximize return on investment by optimizing a product to achieve business goals.
Technology: A large part of Product Management happens in the engineering department. Although a Product Manager doesn’t need strong technical skills, a thorough knowledge of technology is necessary. Understanding how a product is built will help the Product Manager make decisions and communicate with technical departments.
User Experience: The Product Management team represents the customer within a business. They must therefore ensure the user experience is at the forefront of any development plans.
Product Management brings together different facets of a business including Product Development, Marketing, and Sales. These separate departments must be united in order to deliver a competitive new product in a timely manner. In short, Product Management involves conceptualizing, designing, developing, and finally marketing the product.
Objectives of Product Management
The main objective of product management is to develop new products that are more competitive than what is already available on the market. This can be achieved by providing better value to customers, or by solving problems more efficiently than current alternative products. Often, a unique selling point will also help a product stand out from the crowd.
The customer’s reaction to the product, along with sales figures, will ultimately determine its success. Every product has an objective, and every organization has a Product Manager to ensure these objectives are met.
Bear in mind Product Management is not just about what features to include. Just as important, is what to leave out. It therefore involves many elimination decisions throughout the process.
Product Management is mostly focused on the following tasks:
- Conducting research on subjects like the target market, the competition, and user preferences.
- Using this research to develop strategic plans for the product. A strategy includes things like a product roadmap along with a rough timeline.
- Communicating plans to key stakeholders in the organization.
- Coordinating with different teams once the strategic plan is approved.
- Data analysis and taking action on user feedback once the product has been launched. Direct feedback from users gives Product Managers an idea of what works and what doesn’t. These improvements are then incorporated into future versions of the product.
Inbound and Outbound Product Management
A good Product Manager has the skill set to do both inbound and outbound Product Management. The following table gives the key differences between the two:
Inbound Product Management involves gathering information about current trends in the industry, competitive intelligence, and research on customers. It also involves managing the roadmap and product strategy.
Outbound Product Management involves responsibilities concerned with marketing the product. This includes customer communication, PR, advertising, and product launches.Inbound activities include understanding the needs of the market, developing a product strategy that meets those needs, and creating a plan to build a product. Outbound activities include defining a market strategy, familiarizing the sales team with the market as well as the product, and providing support to the sales team in executing the strategy. It focuses on the understanding of what the product needs to be.
There should be a synchronization between the inbound and outbound Product Management practices to ensure that the product is successful.
The 4 Stages of Product Management
There are 4 stages in the product management process, each of which may include both inbound and outbound activities:
- Vision Development: The strategy development begins at this stage by discussing an idea that might develop into a new product. A product vision answers questions like: What are the problems that can be solved by the product? How can the success of the product be measured?
- Strategy Development: Product managers create a realistic strategy for achieving a vision. A product strategy defines the key product features, the users of the product and their needs, along with the key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be met by the product.
- Product Development: It begins by defining the product’s technical specifications, developing prototypes, and creating a mock design of the final product. The technical specifications are written by the Product Manager, whose aim is to identify the needs of the users and communicate them to the development team.
- Sales and Marketing: Once the final product is ready to enter the market, the plans concerning marketing, launch, and advertising are finalized. The success of a product can be determined by parameters like sales, customer satisfaction, and feedback. The Product Manager keeps track of these metrics and analyzes them. The findings are reported to the Product Marketing Manager to further improve sales.
Product Manager vs Project Manager
The terms Product Management and Project Management are complementary but have their own distinct role:
- Product Management: A process that solves customers’ problems and meets the demands of the market. It has a whole life cycle that involves the conception of an idea, its development, creation, and launch into the market. Product development is an ongoing process that continues even after a product has been launched.
- Project Management: A process of building a product or service. It’s a temporary undertaking that’s started to create a new product/service within set deadlines.
A product can only be developed within a project’s context. The skills of both Product Managers and Project Managers are required to successfully deliver a product to market.
Careers in Product Management
Some of the most common titles in Product Management include:
- Associate Product Manager
- Product Manager
- Senior Product Manager
- Director of Product
- VP of Product
If you’re excited about the career opportunities in product management and want to learn more, we’ve outlined some other careers in Product Management (and how much they pay).
To become a Product Manager, you’ll need to learn a range of different skills. One approach is to take an online course from the comfort of your own home. We’ll teach you everything you need to know to land a new job in product management. Take advantage of expert one-on-one mentoring while following our professionally designed curriculum. Let’s launch your new career.