Product management can be defined as the general business structure within a company that supports and manages all the activities related to developing, marketing and selling a product – or even more than one – all through its lifecycle.
Managing a product encompasses everything related to a specific product, from creating a concept and studying the targeted audience to developing, producing and marketing it (and providing customer support afterwards).
Together with product lifecycle management, product management provides information about a specific product to the entire company and its extended supply chain.
Product management’s general business purposes are to make the product valuable for its targeted customer (creating customer value) while producing measurable benefits that make every business viable such as revenue, profit margins, etc.
Since its goal is to deliver value to the business, product management professionals play an essentially strategic role in determining the necessary actions for achieving these goals.
Due to the complexity and amount of tasks involved, product management can be broken down into two very different (but complementary) areas: product development and product marketing. These two areas must work together in order to maximize sales revenues and profit margins and, consequently, its market share.
The person in charge of managing a product is normally the product manager. He/she is normally responsible for coordinating multiple teams that operationalize the aforementioned tasks such as keeping close track of the market conditions to guide the definition of new features to be developed as well as overseeing the production of said product.
Product managers also have the responsibility of being always alert observing the market for new development opportunities to cater to new customer’s needs and help the company stay ahead of its competition.
Here at Pipefy, a cloud-based Saas application, the product manager is responsible for coordinating the design and development teams to prioritize their efforts towards developing new features that’ll cater our users direct needs. Our PM is also responsible for communicating directly with our marketing and customer success teams, to coordinate marketing efforts for new features and keep close track of the users opinions and requests.
Due to the fact that it involves so many different tasks and responsibilities, with activities ranging all the way from strategic planning to tactical actions, the product manager must be given the necessary autonomy for making all necessary decisions.
Even though the product manager’s attentions must be divided among all stages if the product lifecycle, it’s normally focused mainly on new product development (NPD). The market is always evolving and, with it, the customer’s perception of value.
Product management professionals often spend their time understanding the customer’s problems and needs and developing solutions that not only solve these problems but go above and beyond the customer’s expectations.
In order to keep a product relevant and updated it’s essential that new superior and differentiated features are deployed at a constant pace, maintaining superior quality standards and delivering more and more benefits to its customer base. Let’s face it, the market offers tons of alternatives and, in order to stay ahead of the competition, a product must be managed towards constant evolution not to fall behind and end up being forgotten.
The product manager’s role goes beyond strategizing, though. More often than not, these professionals adopt a hands-on approach to promote and improve collaboration among many other roles. As I mentioned in our example here at Pipefy, the product manager role is often inter-disciplinary and focused on bridging the gap and coordinating many different roles, such as development, design, marketing, customer success, etc.
Product managers are the official translators within a company, helping commercial teams understand what the technical, engineering teams mean and vice-versa. Managing a product often means translating business goals set by marketing or sales into technical requirements for the engineering/development team. The product manager is also the one that presents a new feature/product to the commercial teams and explain to them, in layman non-technical terms, the capabilities and limitations of the newest release.