In the business environment, many folks often do not know what product management entails or how they can become product managers. Product management elicits a lot of interest, but it remains a concept that is not well understood even by those already in business. In this article, we will look at the meaning of product management, how it differs from project management, the roles of a product manager, and the necessary skills required to be an outstanding product manager.
What is Product Management?
Product management involves the strategic development, launch, and continuous improvement of a particular product. This process begins with a product idea and ends with assessing the product's performance in the market. It brings together business, product development, sales, and marketing. If a product manager executes it well, product management can raise a company's profits by up to 34.2%.
Typically, product management aims to achieve the following three fundamental principles:
- Build once, sell many times: Entails producing a product at a higher scale, which lowers cost and increases profitability.
- Be a pro on the market and know your product: That helps build a product that you believe in and one that customers will buy.
- Product leader: S/he will lead product development with a balanced view across different aspects.
How Is It Different From Project Management?
Product management is different from project management. Product management involves planning, forecasting, manufacturing, and marketing a company's product. Product managers don't have a specific background since the products don't have fixed targets.
On the other hand, project management involves applying the product management processes, knowledge, experience, and methods to realize a particular project's goals. Project managers possess technical expertise and have backgrounds that are specific to the industry. The projects have targets that managers strive to meet.
What Does A Product Manager Do?
Even though product management mainly involves tactical and strategic duties, most product managers don't execute all the tasks. Other departments or teams take on some of the responsibilities in many companies. However, almost all product managers take part in the following functions:
#1. Identifying New Opportunities
One of the essential roles of a successful product manager is developing new products or improving the existing ones by adding new features to make them stand out. As a product manager, you need to be conscious of the current trends and understand the market and its needs. After that, you will be able to help the company to develop or improve a product. You will also be responsible for the outcome of the product launch.
#2. Overall Marketing
Marketing is essential for the success of virtually any product in the market. Product managers work together with marketing managers to ensure the product is visible to targeted consumers. Product marketing involves conducting market research, monitoring current industry trends, gathering and analyzing consumer feedback, and developing a good marketing strategy.
#3. Building Product Strategy
Clear product vision and strategy are critical to ensuring its overall success. The product manager has to figure out what the project seeks to achieve in the long run as well as a strategic plan to get the desired results. According to the 2020 Feedback Loop report, about 84% of product managers had product strategy or process design as their primary activity. Following closely at 83% was creating the product roadmap, while user research was the third activity at 59%.
#4. Information Flow
Product managers must ensure they disseminate information to the intended people on time. They achieve that through collecting data from their teams, summarizing it, and sending it to the appropriate stakeholders. They also take part in documenting release notes, release dates, meetings notes, caveats, user flows, etc.
#5. Customer Engagement
Talking to customers helps the product manager to understand the benefits the customers are getting from the product. It also helps them plan features to include in the future. As a product manager, you can use various engagement platforms such as web conferences, phone calls and messages, in-person meetings, among others.
What Does It Take To Be A Great Product Manager?
To stand out as a product manager, you need a lot more than knowledge of your key responsibilities. Efficient product management requires skills such as:
#1. Effective Communications Skills
Like in most job aspects, a product manager needs to have outstanding communication skills to ensure the product's overall success. You have to be an excellent listener to collect feedback from customers. At the same time, you need to exhibit empathy to the customers to create and maintain good relationships. Apart from customers, you also have to liaise with your team members and stakeholders to ensure everyone is committed to the business's goals.
#2. Attention to Details
Detail orientation is significant in pointing out missing details and correcting errors promptly, thus enabling the team members to keep improving in their work. This skill helps teams focus on getting premium-quality results. If a team delays fixing an issue, it'll be more expensive for the company to fix it later. For example, it's cheaper to correct a bug in the design stage than during the engineering stage.
#3. Technical Skills
Product managers need to have sufficient technical skills to understand better the product space context plus possibilities. For instance, the e-commerce industry requires a good understanding of contemporary payment methods to enable sound decision-making. You should be in a capacity to use tools like Tableau, Google Analytics, Optimizely, Mixpanel, and others that demand technical training or thinking.
#4. Strategic reasoning
Great product managers aid their teams in arriving at efficient strategic decisions. They do this by looking for exceptional ideas and prioritizing them. There are many sources of worthy ideas, but without a robust framework, your team can have a hard time making a unanimous decision on which idea to execute.
#5. Team Building
A product manager should be able to work collaboratively with others to achieve product success. For a team to operate successfully, the product managers ought to exhibit emotional intelligence and leadership skills. S/he also needs to help the team to work efficiently with other groups inside and outside the company.
While more than 30,000 new products are unveiled in the U.S. market every year, about 85% of them fail. This fail is attributed to various reasons, but the most common is that companies don't prepare their products for the market. Ignoring one aspect of development and excessively concentrating on the other often leads to losses. However, with accurate product management, you can easily avoid such consequences and raise your product's success rate.