Let’s start with the definition of what we at go3consulting think Product Management is about and what we are working with our clients from:
To deliver measurable business results through products and solutions that meet both user and customer needs as well as company objectives.
Extending similar definitions, we include both users and customers here, as in our view user and customer needs are not always the same (and – depending on product – they may have rather different requirements and motives). As PMs we have to worry about both though, as products that get bought and not used are likely not successful, much like products that are desired by users, but do not get purchased for some reason.
Based on this, what does Product Management need to cover to achieve these “measurable business results”? To that end I’d like to borrow a Venn diagram from Tim Brown (CEO of design firm IDEO) as a starting point:We consider the fundamentals for successful products and innovations to be very similar (more on this in a separate post). Therefore we believe that people (customers/users) have to find the product desirable to make buying it worthwhile for them, the product has to be technically feasible, and – back to the “business results” – there must be a viable business model behind it.
This provides 3 “forces” for Product Managers to care about when creating and managing products as a starting point:
Based on our experience however, that’s not all. For a successful offering you’ll also have to connect product and customers/users, by developing and managing your Go-to-Market including everything from product positioning to sales channels and sales strategy.
In addition we would contend that you need to link the Business/Finance business model management and the Product/Technology piece by understanding and managing Market & Competition for your offering, including numerical as well as qualitative insights into market size and competitive setup (this may include anything from the feature set of competing offerings to the size of your targeted customer group in a specific country, like e.g. the UK or Italy).
Last but not least wo do think that you need to ascertain that your business as a structure works well with your customers and users. For that you need to ensure the required X-functional-readiness across the internal business functions of your company (anything from order management to customer support) to manage an orderly and even pleasurable business.
Therefore we at go3consulting believe that successful Product Management needs to understand and manage what we call “6 Forces” across the full lifecycle of a product:
- Product/Technology (core embodiment of the offering)
- Customer/User (needs of the targeted customers and their influencers)
- Business/Finance (business model & supporting company structure)
- Go-to-Market (ways to communicate and cater to customers)
- X-Functional Readiness (readiness of all infrastructure required to operate the business)
- Market/Competition (the environment the offering is operating in)
Contrary to many product management process models we believe that all forces have to be considered and balanced at any point of a product’s life cycle. While this does not mean that a PM has to spend the same amount of time on each of them, focusing on a single force, e.g. “Product/Technology”, without considering the rest for some time, will dangerously tilt a project quickly.
This is one of the reasons why we do contend that products managed by teams are on balance more successful than the ones managed by “lone-ranger” type product managers. More on the these Product Peer Groups – as we call them – in Juergen’s earlier post below.