Agility in product development processes is the mastermind that guides the development team through multiple iterations, all while maintaining the product vision and integrating customer information along the way. The product is combined one iteration at a time, allowing customer data and team retrospectives to drive the next stage.
In the technological realm, where products are quickly replaced by new and better solutions, there is a need for companies to better understand customers and create customised solutions for them.
So you need unique and effective Product Management to build better-designed and higher-performing products.
What is Product Management?
Product management is the intersection of business, user experience and technology.”
-Martin Eriksson, product leader, speaker and author with over 25 years of experience building products and product teams around the world
Product Management is the management of the life cycle of a product, from development, positioning and pricing, to modernisation, new presentations, launches and special promotions, focusing on the product and its customers first and foremost.
This process was born in the 1930s and has since led to successful growth for product organisations across all sectors.
It all started under the idea of a “brand man” (an employee who manages a specific product instead of the traditional commercial role) proposed by Neil H. McElroy, advisor at Stanford University and head of marketing at Procter & Gamble (P&G). This brilliant concept had a direct impact on the young founders of Hewlett-Packard (HP), a company that maintains continued success thanks to the implementation of this philosophy.
And in the 1980s, the development of Agile methodology processes, along with a greater acceptance of brand management functions, took root in many technology and software companies. If it weren’t for the brand man, the Agile Manifesto would not have been written, and would not have created the unified Product Management that we know now.
Among the functions that this employee would perform, they wanted him to master technical, strategic and marketing issues, but can you find a person who is good in all these areas? Yes, the Product Manager.
What is a Product Manager?
The Wall Street Journal defines this role as “the ideal job for any modern student,” and 7% of Harvard Business School students end up being Product Managers. You ought to learn more about one of the outstanding positions of the future!
Product managers link all the different functions that affected a product: engineering, design, customers, sales, marketing, operations , finance, legal and all programming for the development and launch.
It is one of the most recognised positions within any consumer goods company. Here, it is related to the Brand Manager and is required for product sales, image management, advertising and transmitting market needs to production.
This job is driven by digital transformation, since it has adapted and incorporated new technology markets, including companies dedicated to the development of software products. Here, the product manager is responsible for coordinating the UX + Design + Programming departments, for which he needs to have sufficient communication skills to talk about the product internally and externally.
It must understand several perspectives in the development process, including:
- User needs
- Developers’ capabilities
- The vision of the interested parties
- The position of the product in the market from a competitive point of view
In the digital world, this role is known as the Digital Product Manager, while depending on the area in which he can develop, it will be the position assigned to him:
(Technical Product Manager)
In this area, the PM does not execute activities related to architecture and coding, but works directly with the software team, managing the development of the product. Some of their responsibilities include:
- Maintain and execute the product roadmap.
- Define the requirements and use scenarios for the new functionalities.
- Manage product development and documentation.
- Guarantee the quality of the product through acceptance testing and / or usability tests.
(Strategic Product Manager)
Many times, the PM is called “CEO of the product”, without exaggeration, because the success (or failure) of the product will depend on their search for new opportunities, market research, and definition of value propositions. Some of their responsibilities include:
- Define the vision and product roadmap.
- Develop the Product Business Model.
- Create a competitive strategy and detect new opportunities.
- Analyse and report the results of the product.
(Marketing Product Manager)
The MPM’s skills are essential for communicating the “what”, “why” and “when” to the market. The product description and market analysis should have more details on potential segments and niches, customer applications, and key customer identification and competitive benchmarks. Some of their responsibilities include:
- Launch plan.
- Product positioning.
- Marketing documentation including presentations, data sheets, and workshops.
- Product training, conference attendance, and customer visits.
What is a Product Roadmap?
The product roadmap is the tool most used by product managers that describes the vision, direction, priorities and progress of a product over time.
With these goals in place, they serve the needs of various audiences through short-and long-term goals for the product or project. In addition, the product roadmap must be able to respond to changes in customer feedback and the competitive landscape.
Similar to the Kanban and Scrum formats used by project managers worldwide, in order to create your own roadmap that addresses the work of a month, trimester, or year, make sure it includes the following:
- Set Goals: What are you trying to achieve? What problem(s) do you want to solve?
- Divide the workflow: Do you remember the epics? These are general categories that will allow you to break down tasks into 3-5 key objectives.
- Organize the actionables: Prioritise what you can start working on now and what you will do later once you finish the current task.
- Establish a timeline: Try to stick to the general schedule, going over all the tasks in step 2 and making a reasonable time estimate.
- Start iterating! Kick off the planning and take your team through an agile course of action with multiple iterations.
What is the desired profile of a Product Manager?
Being a position derived from the Agile universe, whoever performs it must be flexible to adapt to the type of product they are dealing with, as well as be transparent to detect possible failures and explain the pertinent improvements to be made.
Other qualities that are sought to fill these roles are:
- Ease of coordinating teams
- Identification of business opportunities
- Creation and classification of new ideas
- Technical knowledge acquired
- Strategic thinking
- Business mindset
- Listening skills
- Strong project management
- User experience (UX) training
- Emotional intelligence
- Social conscience
How can you reinforce your skills to be a Product Manager?
You can give a successful turn to your various professional abilities and train in this field with the following recommendations to develop your technical and interpersonal skills:
- Learn more about programming
Not only practice, but also theory. This skill is key to communicating your ideas more effectively to developers and engineers.
- Develop analytical skills
Find ways to collect information, spot patterns, strategise, and actively solve problems.
- Understand the user experience
Knowing your customer perfectly takes time. You will have to empathise with the market mindset and ask the right questions to create a stronger product line.
Creating and designing great products is exciting. Customers adopt successful products when the commitment, focus, and passion comes together to perform at its best. This begins with an exemplary Product Manager, who feels a deep sense of responsibility for their role and knows how to solve problems through great ideas and has a talent for leadership.
Product Management is a dynamic field with great opportunities for advancement, and more and more companies need Product Managers if they want to innovate and develop new experiences for their customers.