MaRS Library Product management and the product manager
Product management involves the management of the business of your product. Often an overlooked function in a new company, its function is key for delivering successful products that meet your market’s needs and your company’s revenue expectations.
Product manager’s role
Product managers are often thought of as the product’s CEO. They manage all facets of the product by addressing several key questions.
Who is the product for?
Product managers understand what motivates their market and what keeps them up at night. They spend time talking to their market so that they can represent them when building the product.
What is the product to be built?
Product managers determine the product strategy that will solve their market’s problems. They set the roadmap to guide the execution of that strategy. They determine what must be built into the product.
Product managers create requirements for the product and prioritize them for development by understanding the costs and tradeoffs. They use their market expertise to help the engineering team build the right solution for customers. They also validate with customers what is built to ensure that the product will succeed.
When will the product launch?
Product managers lead the launch of the product to market. They work with all levels of the organization to prepare the product for market. They often serve as the glue that connects all departments in an organization.
Product managers have the “big-picture” view of the product and its launch. They consider what goes into the release, whether it’s ready to launch, whether it will resonate with customers and how to usher it into the marketplace. They also ensure that the organization can support the product by having training in place for employees and streamlined adoption processes for both for the customer and internal organizational departments.
How much will the product cost?
How well has the product done in the market?
Product managers look backward to learn. They continually validate their product and assumptions.
Product managers evaluate revenue, study how customers receive features, and collect feedback from the market as well as from inside their organization. This measurement of how well a product does sets the stage for new versions of the product as well as changes in course.
Who is the product manager: Startups vs. large companies
During the early stages of a startup, the CEO will perform the product management function. They are, after all, the experts in the market, and will take the lead on what should be built.
As the startup grows, however, the company will often hire a product manager to ensure they keep up the necessary expertise while the CEO concentrates on larger issues such as acquiring revenue and investors.
In many startups, product management is uncharted territory. You might have to determine the market, business model and solution without an existing product manager.
A pragmatic approach to product management is key to success. Your organization might not employ all product management activities to start. Treat it like a toolbox; bring out the right tools for the job.
Guidelines for successful product management
Listen to the market: Listen to the market’s problems to build successful products.
Prioritize: You cannot do everything at once. Prioritize your requirements, launches and markets.
Validate: Check your assumptions, validate your features, product and tools, and continually improve them.
Blank, S. (2010). Why Product Managers Wear Sneakers. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from http://steveblank.com/2010/09/02/why-product-managers-wear-sneakers/
Johnson, S. (2010). Sample Product Manager Job Description. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing..com/publications/topics/job-descriptions/sample-product-manager-job-description
The Product Management Hut. (2010). Scrum Product Manager / Product Owner Roles and Responsibilities. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.pmhut.com/scrum-product-manager-product-owner-roles-and-responsibilities
Young, P. & Milburn, J. (2010). To Startup or Not to Startup? Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/magazine/6/2/to-startup-or-not-to-startup