What Is Product Management?
What Is Product Management?
To put it simply, product management is business-oriented management of products or services. Its objective is to maximize the monetary value of the product and the product portfolio for the organization throughout the entire lifecycle of the product. The easiest way to understanding product management could be to look at the product’s lifecycle model or innovation funnel and consider what actions are necessary in each phase. Unlike project management, product management is a continuous process.
The Most Important Elements of Product Management
1. Product Strategy
As formal as the word ‘strategy’ may sound, you should not be afraid of it. A product strategy is just a long-term plan that explains what kind of product selection enables the company to reach its strategy and objectives. A good product strategy guides the development of the product portfolio and defines how to reach the objectives.
Tesla’s electric car product strategy can be used as an example. In the beginning, Tesla’s actual objective was to enter the mass market of average-priced cars since growth is only possible on major markets. Tesla began its journey from scratch, so it would have been difficult, or even impossible, for the company to directly aim for its target market. This is why Tesla decided to head for the luxury segment of the market by producing expensive car models. The company would hit a growth plateau quite soon, but this meant that they could buy time to create technical solutions, scale their manufacturing, build a strong brand and, most importantly, create a market for the company. Now, Tesla is about to storm the mass market.
2. Market Opportunity
The concept of market opportunity includes assessing the best ideas and creating a business case or business plan based on them. The market opportunity describes the profitability of the product, for example, in the form of a business plan. When analyzing the market opportunity, the most important aspects are understanding the market and the customer, determining customer value, and the business model.
Almost always, uncertainties are involved, and the basic information we have is never even 80% correct. For this reason, different kinds of tests, experiments, and continuous learning are so important in determining the market opportunity. The lean startup movement has introduced useful models for analyzing the market opportunity.
3. Product Design
As a part of product management, the focus of product design is on finding a solution to a given problem or need. Products are designed for the users. All products must provide a solution for a problem or a need, in other words, they must generate value. They should also be usable and achievable. Product development often has limited resources. For this reason, prioritizing product features is essential as everything cannot be delivered at the same time. In product development, the most essential factor of product design is to understand who the users are, what problems should be solved, and in what situation. The product design process starts before the actual product development, and it will cover the entire active product development process.
4. Product Marketing
The goal of product marketing is to inform the target group, i.e. the customers, about the product. The concrete result of product marketing is a value proposition, which is often tailored to different target groups. In order to facilitate actual marketing, the product marketing phase includes the segmentation of customer categories so that the same message can be directed to a large group of interested buyers. If the organization is even slightly larger, product marketing should first be done inside the organization to ensure that the stakeholders, such as sales, are interested in the new product. Product marketing is especially vital in the product launch phase, but it covers the entire lifecycle of the product. When product marketing is successful, the product can be easily found and purchased.
5. Product Lifecycle Management
The objective of product lifecycle management is to maximize the value of the product or service for the organization. In practice, product lifecycle management means supporting existing products and promoting their competitiveness and sales. Product lifecycle management begins in the launch phase, if not before, and will go on until the product is discontinued. To get started on lifecycle management, you should look into lifecycle models by reading, for example, Geoffrey Moore’s classic Crossing the Chasm.
Antti is an experienced Product Manager who has taken care of a wide range of products at different stages of the life cycle. As a consultant, he has trained product managers, developed product strategies and helped companies manage products at all stages of their life cycle. Antti has been actively involved in building a product manager community in Finland.