Thursday, April 17, 2008

Enable Your Product Manager to Be Strategic

Pragmatic Marketing's Steve Johnson has written an e-book, The Strategic Role of Product Management. In it, Steve argues that strong product management is key to the success of a company when it is strategic and focuses on identifying and solving market problems.

A key graph from the book is:
Increasingly we see companies creating a VP of Product Management, a department at the same level in the company as the other major departments. This VP focuses the product management group on the business of the product. The product management group interviews existing and potential customers, articulates and quantifies market problems in the business case and market requirements, defines standard procedures for product delivery and launch, supports the creation of collateral and sales tools by Marketing Communications, and trains the sales teams on the market and product. Product Management looks at the needs of the entire business and the entire market.
What can you, as a corporate executive, do to enable the strategic product management that will contribute to your company's success?
  1. Create a product management department in your company.
  2. Ask your product managers to lead the company's positioning efforts.
  3. Hire interaction designers and user interface designers that free your product managers to focus on documenting market requirements.
  4. Support your product managers' efforts to call and visit both prospective and existing customers.
  5. Make sure your QA team tests not just against technical specifications, but also tests that your products solve the problems your product managers identify in the market.
  6. Make sure your product managers are experts in the principles governing positioning, pricing, and naming.
Above all, stand up for the strategic recommendations of your product managers. In the face of interdepartmental paralysis, effective product management requires strong executive support.

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