Why Every Company Needs Product Management

In this four-part series, we’ll explore the importance of product management for enterprises: · What is a “Product”? (link here); · Why Product Management (link here); · Why Every Company Needs Product Management (this article); and · The Business Role of Product Management In the first article, “What is a ‘Product’?” I defined a product as “a solution for a persona’s problem, including all components necessary to fully solve that problem and the persona’s experience throughout the process.” In the second article, “Why Product Management?” I answered that question with a simple, to make sure the company is doing the right things. Every company has more ideas than resources. Whether it is big P and M Product Management as a title or function or little p and m product management as a role or discipline, someone is making decisions on what are the right things to do. Specifically, I state that product management should make the decision based on what adds the most value to the market, the company, and the team. Why Every Company Needs Product Management The reality is, that Product Management, with the big P and M, is a popular job title and function in the software, technology, and Internet market. When you see the title of Product Manager, Director or VP of Product Management or even Technical Product Manager, the person most likely works for technology or technology-enabled company. These are the people responsible for defining the product and providing the requirements for its development. In these companies, Product Management provides focus for developers and the organization to ensure all efforts support delivering a solution that fits the customers’ needs to ultimately generate revenue. I am not arguing that every company needs big P and M Product Management titles and functions (though as companies scale, it probably does make sense). But, as per “Why Product Management” I am arguing that every company needs the discipline or practice of product management. Every company needs to make decisions on where to focus their resources, an existing product or market, a new product or market. Every company needs to look across all their opportunities and ideas, and determine which ones have the best chance of adding value to the market, to the company, and to the team. Even Non-Technology Companies Need Product Management The reality is that most non-technology businesses do not apply product management as a discipline to ensure the best solutions for their customers. And the reality is that this includes any business that has something to sell. They build products, may even have research to guide the creation of such products, consists, but often they spend less time understanding the end customer to guarantee the final product reflects their expectations. Let's use two examples that most people, at some point, have interacted with. A restaurant sells a combination of food, service, and atmosphere, which together create the product. This product’s primary purpose is to satisfy a customer who desires a type of dining experience without his or her own required labor. How many restaurants in your community have come and gone? Is this the result of a shift of people eating at home or a business owner not understanding the needs of his or her target customer (e.g. not applying product management)? How about the electrician whose job it is to fix an issue or install something new? The work they are hired to do is one part of the total product. Their response time, the way they engage you to understand the issue and their presentation all reflect their product. Have you ever hired a contractor who tracked dirt through your home? That becomes a reflection of their product. The contractor who places boot covers on their feet before entering your home is saying to you that beyond the service you need, their product includes respect for how important your home is to you. Where to Start with Product Management So if we are going to start doing the business activity/role of product management, where do you start? How about we heed the advice of management guru Peter Drucker who said, “know and understand your customers so well, your product fits them and sells itself.” Successful products are those products that target the right customers (personas and market segmentation), solving their problem/need with the right experience for them. The best way to continually do this is to always be talking to your current, past, and potential customers. In these discussions, focus on listening, understand their problems and needs, understand the experience they are looking for, and start translating this knowledge across all of your customers into products that “fit them.” If you do this right, your product(s) will sell themselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a restaurant adding a new item to your line or building a service to address an untapped area of the market, you must first understand what the customer needs in order for your product to be accepted. All Businesses Sell a Product The takeaway? No matter what your business does, you sell a product (or products) that consists of solving your customers’ problems/needs and the experience you provide as you solve their problems. Since these products are where your revenue (and in turn business) comes from, shouldn’t someone be managing your product(s)? I would say yes. ------- If you liked this post, join the Product Growth Leaders Community here to join the conversation and see more.

Why Every Company Needs Product Management