Even experienced business people often ask, “What is product management?” Product management covers a broad range of responsibilities, and the discipline can mean many different things to different companies. The brief explanation - “Product Management is the process and strategy of managing the planning, development, marketing, product launch, support of multiple products in a company.”
Let us explore it in detail.
Most product professionals focus their attention on these areas:
Research: To gain knowledge about the company’s market, user personas, and competitors.
Developing Strategy: – Converting the industry knowledge into a high-level strategic plan for their product. This includes goals and objectives, a general product overview, and a timeline.
Communicating plans: Develop a strategic plan using a roadmap, and present it to executives, investors, developers, and other key stakeholders within the organization. Continual updates and communication between their cross-functional groups throughout the entire development process
Coordinating development: Coordinate with relevant teams (development, product marketing, support, customer success, etc.) to execute it.
Working with Customer Feedback: After building, testing, and introducing the product into the market, ask users for feedback. It will let you learn what works and what does not. Collaborating with relevant teams to incorporate the feedback into future iterations. But many product managers and product owners do not take on all these responsibilities.
There is no “right” way of managing a product. The product management process has to adapt to the environment, product lifecycle stage, and individual preferences of product team members and executives.
Definition of the problem
It all starts with identifying a high-value customer pain point. People or organizations then attempt to do something that they do not have the resources or time to do. Or they do not have the resources or funds to do it. Product management transforms these problems, wishes, desires, and abstract complaints into a problem statement that seeks a solution. This problem is what ignites the motivation and sparks everything else. Product will not be able to gain any real momentum if it does not have a clear goal that directly addresses that pain point.
Understanding the potential
While there are many issues and pain points, not all are worth attention. It is critical to become customer-centric as this is the only way to succeed. Product management must answer these questions to justify investing in a product or solution.
- What is the total market?
- Do customers have big enough pain or suffering to warrant alternative options?
- Can they pay for an alternative solution?
After product management has assessed the market potential, they can begin to explore how to address it if there are enough customers.
Product management now has a clear target to work towards. Product management should consider all practical solutions and not limit their options. If the company has specific expertise or proprietary technology that gives it an advantage, these potential solutions could be leveraged somehow. It is also wise to share product ideas with the technical team to ensure they are feasible.
To determine if there is an interest among the customers, product management must create user and buyer personas and validate them.
Important: Skipping this step can lead to severe delays or fatal mistakes. Although there is no guarantee, it is essential to get confirmation from potential customers that they will want, use, and pay for the solution. This is crucial in the overall process and achieving product-market fit.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Stage
Once you have established the viability of a solution, it is time to start engaging the product development team. The team should first define the minimum scope. After, they can create a working product that can be field-tested by actual users. Many bells and whistles must be intentionally excluded to ensure the Minimum Viable Products are as functional as possible. It is not worth spending additional resources on a product that has not been proven to work.
MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) can use product marketing to test the product and determine the messaging and positioning of its value proposition. It is critical to determine if the product appeals to the market and meets its core needs.
Establishing Customer Feedback Loop
Customer feedback is important throughout the product’s lifetime, but it is even more crucial to create an MVP. The MVP introduction lets product managers learn what customers think, need, and dislike about the product MVP. Customers are reacting to actual product experiences and not theoretical ideas shared in a conversation.
Customers must feel comfortable giving product feedback and user experience feedback. Product managers should provide prompts to solicit it. They must process, synthesize, and respond to the feedback, transforming it into actionable ideas for the product roadmap. Product management needs to establish a communication process with its customers – so that product feedback, suggestions, and complaints are heard and accounted for.
If the MVP has been well received, it is time to invest in a product plan. Now, the team is confident that they have something to sell, it is time to move to the next steps. It is time to set business goals, product goals, and objectives, build a product roadmap, set priorities for the product.
The strategy should focus on incremental, reasonable progress towards achievable goals. OKR (Objectives and Key Results) can be used to measure success. These metrics should be aligned with the organization’s overall objectives and complement what the company does well.
Product management must ensure stakeholder buy-in and alignment. This fundamental product element is not being understood by everyone. It can lead to future disagreements and conflicts.
Managing an Execution
Once you have a solid strategy and a viable product idea, you can start to turn your idea into reality. This involves prioritizing development elements and laying them out in the product roadmap.
Importance of Prioritization
Product management can use prioritization to determine which development activities will most benefit the product’s most important goals. Prioritization allows you to decide what development activities will best help achieve goals. It is impossible to do everything at once – product vision and management must decide which development activities have the most significant impact upon critical objectives.
Roadmaps and Product Management
Once the priorities have been established, product management can build the product roadmap. Roadmaps allow stakeholders to visualize what is next and why it is important to their strategy, objectives, and outcomes, not specific features or delivery dates.
The product roadmaps define the direction and the expectations of an organization. They make the vision and mission visual so that ideas can become a reality. The roadmap is just half of the battle. Another part of the battle is determining what type of roadmap to build to make the most sense for your audience.
PPM Express is a cloud product management software. PPM Express helps product managers define strategy, set goals, capture ideas, prioritize backlogs, create roadmaps and collaborate at scale. PPM Express integrates natively with Jira and Azure DevOps to manage portfolios of products, large programs, and solutions.