Monday 16 October 2023

Product management

Before we dive into product management, let's first discuss the difference between Project and Product mangers. Product managers are responsible for the overall product strategy and its long-term success, whereas project managers are responsible for the successful execution of specific projects. 

In essence product managers focus on the big picture of a particular product or service, whereas project managers focus on the details of project execution, they are more concerned about budget, time and resources. Project managers are connected to phases of product development, keeping them on time and on budget, whereas Product managers are connected to the lifespan of the product itself. A product will most likely see multiple project managers, whereas it will ideally only have one product manager for it's life cycle.

As you can see if a product has multiple phases; each phase can have a different project manager, however each product or service should have only one Product manger.

Product management is an ever evolving field, it started as a feature factory model, which was more of a reactive approach to product development; it has now evolved into a outcome driven mode.

Feature factory model
  • Can't measure the impact of their work
  • Have frequent failures
  • See poor product and Feature adoption
  • Lack strategic focus
  • Have unhappy customers
Outcomes driven model
  • Can articulate how their work impacts the business
  • Have fewer failures
  • See strong adoption
  • Clear focus and an exiting vision
  • Have happy customers
We've gone from reacting to feature requests to planning and foreseeing them, product management is no longer about designing a feature upgrade, but having a planned roadmap of features, which are designed before they are requested.

The product manager's responsibilities

  1. Setting the products mission and vision (product strategy)
  2. Aligning stakeholders around the product vision
  3. Shipping great software that delights users
  4. Understanding customers and their problems
  5. Understanding the business goals and define what success looks like
  6. Prioritising the backlog of features
  7. keeping up with industry trends and competitors
Theses are broad and non exhaustive responsibilities; the role of the product manager is to live and breath the product; to understand what the business value is to the stakeholders is, as well as what is the value proposition to the users is, and how those two support each other. 

Depending on the organisation there can be multiple types of different product managers, each specialising in a specific domain.

Product managers have 5 high level capabilities that drive their success:
  1. Businessmen: they understand the value proposition of the product, they understand how the product will benefit the organisation's financials.
  2. Leaders: the can inspire and communicate to their teams as well as stakeholders, they can rally developers, designers, data scientist, etc behind one common vision.
  3. Scientific: they make evidence based, data driven decisions, they don't make gut decisions or guesses as to what customers want or need.
  4. Goal oriented: focus on outcomes, tie features to business value
  5. Responsible: they do not allow technical or design debt to accumulate, they balance trajectory with maintenance.