At the intersection of Business, Technology and CX a new breed of professionals is carving out their positions in startups, Technology Cos, Telcos, Manufacturing and even Big4 consulting firms. Here comes the infamous Product Manager, a rare breed of professional with a diversity of skills and experiences to the extent that each Company defines the role in their own unique way. Hence below we introduce the seven cardinal virtues of the Product Manager.
The good Product Manager is well versed in the definition and design of various types of strategies, from corporate through business and functional. He / She however, needs to be a master of innovation strategy, since it sets out the framework, and provides the direction for actual product selection and development. Strategy also entails vision & leadership.
2. Portfolio Management
Combining strategy with project selection a Product Manager is responsible for defining current and potential new products that can form the basis of product development, including product improvement, cost reductions, line extension and new company products. Portfolio management is a cross-functional activity that encompasses the development of new products through to launch, and the on-going review of existing products to ensure optimal alignment with strategy and resource availability.
3. New Product Development
Rapid changes in technology, with a greater understanding of the success factors of new product development has resulted in the application of a range of new product development processes including Concurrent Engineering, Integrated Product Development, Lean and Agile. The good Product Manager understand the benefits and limitations of each process in selecting the most appropriate for the Company.
4. Culture, Organizations, and Teams
Successful new product development is dependent on people, on the culture of the Company and the environment inside the Company that is created to foster innovation and allow experimentation and failure. The requirements for putting together a high performing product team and for building company structures to support cross-functional teams are a priority for the Product Manager.
5. Tools and Metrics
“What gets measured, gets done” is an old Business cliché utilized by a wide number of practitioners in the corporate world. Tools and metrics are applicable across a wide range of industries and products, however the good Product Manager should be well versed in some including ideation, financial analysis, 6Sigma, project management, risk management and also performance metrics are equally important in their application in learning and continuous improvement.
6. Market Research
A good Product Manager needs to provide market-related information and data to support decision-making in all aspects of strategy development, portfolio management, the new products process and life cycle management. Various market research tools including secondary research, qualitative vs. quantitative, focus groups, customer site visits, ethnography, consumer panels, social media, big data, crowdsourcing, alpha and Beta testing, and market testing can and should be utilized and value in decision making at various stages of product development.
7. Product Life Cycle Management
Addressing the product life cycle, is where the good Product Manager designs and executes across stages of the product life cycle – introduction, growth, maturity and decline, with the use of the relevant strategies for each stage. Significant emphasis is placed on a discussion of the introduction stage of the life cycle, with reference to case study examples.
And to save the best for last the good Product Manager also has P&L responsibility for the product portfolio. Then the obvious question is whether the good Product Manager actually exists in modern day Companies or it’s a fictional character like the Himalayan Yeti.
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Christos Lytras – Managing Partner