Product Management

What is Product Management? [+Definitions]

Product management is an organizational function that directs every stage of a product’s lifecycle, from development to pricing and positioning. It focuses on the customer and the product first. Product managers advocate for customers and ensure the market’s voice is heard to build the best product possible.

Product teams can deliver better-designed, more efficient products by paying attention to the customer. Tech is a fast-paced industry where established products are rapidly replaced by better and more innovative solutions. This means there is a greater need for product managers to have a deep understanding of customers and provide tailored solutions. Product management is where it all comes in.

As a product team member, I have had the opportunity to work with product managers daily and interview dozens more about their roles. Despite all the advice, I have learned many ways to apply product management principles. Each product is unique, and each product faces its own challenges and goals. Therefore, product management must be tailored to suit the product. Martin Eriksson famously defined product management as the intersection between business, user experience, and technology.

  • Business Product management is a way for teams to achieve their business goals by closing the communication gap between design, dev, and business.
  • UX Product management is focused on the user experience and represents the customer within the organization. This is the way great UX manifests itself.
  • Technology Product management is a daily activity in the engineering department. It is essential to have a thorough knowledge of computer science.
UX, Tech, and Business diagram

Three essentials skills every PM should have

Marketing, storytelling, and empathy are three skills every PM should have.

Storytelling

Product leaders should be both inspirational and tactical. Storytelling is their preferred tool. Product managers can learn more about customers through market research and customer interviews than salespeople. The product managers then share their insights with the rest of the company using their storytelling skills.

Marketing

Marketing efforts are also informed by Product Management’s customer focus. Product management teams, often including Product Marketing Managers, integrate customers’ language into their product messaging. Long-term, it pays off to be knowledgeable about the market and be able to differentiate yourself from the rest. Product managers can ship easily understood and comprehensible products by understanding essential marketing and positioning concepts.

Empathy

Product management is all about empathy. This includes empathy for developers and their work processes, empathy for customers and their problems, and empathy for higher management who must manage complex schedules and aggressive goals. The ability to empathize, based on a deep understanding of each stakeholder and group, distinguishes those product teams who can rally the entire organization around common goals from those incapable.

You can also refer to the core skills required to be a Product Manager

Product management: The product manager and all others

One Product Manager may be responsible for product management of a product or a family of products. The product manager must have a firm grasp of at least one area that touches on product management and passion for the other. It is usually one of two things: a business marketer who has a passion for user experience and can speak fluently in tech lingo or a technical leader who can understand the product well enough to start driving its creation. These individuals have been so valuable and rare that product management commands one of the highest salaries.

It’s challenging to find people fluent in both, so a small team of specialists often does product management. As a result, most companies have created a structure where business, development, and design work together to create product strategy. This includes PMs, PMMs, and many other roles.

  • Chief Product Officer – Responsible for the organization’s product function. Assures that each product is taken care of by competent PMs and their team.
  • Product Owner Takes an active role in product development by managing the backlog of engineers and communicating with other stakeholders.
  • Product Management Manager (PMM) – Enhances the product team’s ability to reach customers and learn from them via product-tailored advertising campaigns and their insights.
  • UX Researcher UX research is essential to any PM’s core responsibilities. However, a UX researcher who studies user behaviour and makes usability suggestions is valuable to any product group.

Many applicants are focused on core competencies rather than the clear path to product management because there is no single route. However, data analysis (SQL) and project management are all skills worth considering. These product management skills have been actively promoted by universities and code schools around the globe, proving that product management is here for good.

What is Agile product management?

Product management in agile software development is about managing a product through multiple iterations. Agile product management is more flexible than traditional methods because agile programs are more fluid.

Agile is based on the principle that the scope of a project can change while resources remain the same. Agile product management is a way to reduce the time spent on product definition and be open to making changes. Each product iteration is assembled, allowing customer feedback and team retrospectives to guide the next stage. Agile product management is about managing the development team and integrating customer insights.

Therefore, agile product managers are more integrated with technology teams than they are into business teams. Agile PMs are integral to the engineering organization and advocate on behalf of the development teams. This is crucial for taking an agile approach. Management teams and PMMs (Product Market Managers) support the PMs to complete their product discipline and ensure that they are grounded in market data and business goals.  

The future of Product Management

Product management is multidisciplinary and complex. Product managers develop customer empathy and communicate customer needs to the broader organization. They are closely involved with the development team but also need to be supported by marketing, design, management, and other stakeholders. Their unique skill is their ability to communicate with people from many languages.

I hope that product management will have fewer managers who excel at their jobs in the future. Every product required a PM, and every PO needed a PMM. All of this was before agile product management was popular. The proliferation of roles has led to many overlapping roles that have slowed progress and created more work than it has done.

The future of product management will depend on product managers. These articles can be used as inspiration. However, we hope that you will take the lessons learned and apply them to your product management. Onward!

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