IT product management implies managing all stages of the software product lifecycle, including setting strategy, roadmap, feature definition, development stages, launch, etc. Most of the stages in IT product management are similar to traditional product management, but overall, it requires product managers to be more flexible. It is because IT projects are required to frequently adapt the product roadmap and reprioritize items/tasks based on iterative feedback from stakeholders and customers.
IT Product Management
The IT industry is in full swing in the present era. New technological advancements, rapid shift in market conditions, changing customer demands, and competitive environment have put IT companies to change the traditional product management tactics to smarter (agile) management practices. So, what is IT product management, common practices around it, and the role of the IT product manager are the focus points of this article.
What is IT Product Management?
Product management is termed as an organizational function that acts as a guide for complete management of all the stages involved in the product lifecycle from conception and development to production and release. It acts as a bridge between organization strategy and the needs of the customers.
IT product management is also similar to traditional product management. It implies managing all stages of the IT product lifecycle, including setting strategy, roadmap, feature definition, development stages, launch, etc. Over years, IT product management has seen major changes. For example, software development stages are designed to proceed with shorter development cycles driven by a continuous feedback loop to give timely responses to changes or features demand.
An effective IT product management results in:
- Timely completion of all development stages.
- Better reflection of customers’ demands.
- More productivity and focused team.
- Better coordination between developers, directors, stakeholders, and customers.
- Less product failure risk.
Common IT Product Management Practices
In a traditional product management process, we will see stages like defining and evaluating the idea, understanding the market and customers, developing strategy and roadmap, executing and testing, managing marketing and sales, etc.
IT product management also involves similar stages, but it requires product managers to be more flexible and agile. It is because IT projects are required to frequently adapt the product roadmap and reprioritize items/tasks based on iterative feedback from stakeholders and customers. Some of the common IT product management practices include:
- Setting Product Strategy: A clear product strategy is set up first by the product manager, highlighting the vision and long-term target of the product.
- Understand Customers: Today customers stand as the top priority of any IT project. Therefore, a project manager remains in close touch with customers to understand their needs before initiating the product development process.
- Setting Product Roadmap: Once the product manager has set the product strategy and understands customer needs, then the efforts are shifted towards setting up an effective product roadmap. Many teams use an agile-based roadmap where they set short commitments (monthly or quarterly) so that they can adjust the roadmap continuously.
- Prioritizing Features: The product manager collaborates with the team to prioritize features based on their importance and sets up a release plan based on features complexity and the team’s capability.
- Ensuring Customer Experience: Since customer satisfaction is a key to success in the IT industry, the product manager works closely with IT, engineering, support, sales, and marketing teams to ensure customers get a complete product experience.
- Measuring Product Success: After the product release, the product success is measured using factors like conversion rates, customer engagement, feature updates frequency, etc.
Is IT Product Management Challenging?
IT product management is an amalgam of different departments working together to ensure timely and customer-driven products. But there can be scenarios that can lead to some chaos. For example, the tech team might complain that the marketing team is not providing proper marketing intelligence. Similarly, the marketing team might complain that the development team is not focusing on customer needs. The solution to all such situations is to have the right product manager. The right product manager plays a bonding role, as he/she listens to all the teams and customers and quickly comes to a conclusion without much chaos.