Get More Product Management From Your Product Managers
If you’ve ever wondered why some athletes are great with one team but not so great with another, the difference is usually in their supporting cast. The same philosophy applies to the product management function.
If your product management function is not performing up to par, there could be many contributing factors, most of which relate to a single issue: the lack of a supporting cast.
Product Management is not the enhancement list department that also designs and tests while supporting customers and sales full-time. Its purpose is to keep products aligned with market and customer needs on an ongoing basis to fuel growth, which means product management needs to be involved in nearly every aspect of the business, making its scope of responsibility more high and wide than narrow and deep.
Here‘s a typical scenario and an easy fix that doesn’t require additional headcount.
You have four products and four product managers, each responsible for product planning, functional design, rollout and sales support. In most cases, each product manager is spending 80% of their time in the weeds doing functional design to keep product development moving and managing the crisis of the hour. The result is no vision of where the market is going, too much focus on the next set of urgencies, and a poor or non-existent rollout effort that buries the product experts further in the weeds because sales, services and support aren‘t as self-sufficient as they need to be. You can feel the wheels of progress slowing with each release cycle.
The 3-Step Fix
Create a product line manager position responsible for the direction of all four products. This will allow more focus on emerging market trends and product plans that balance customer needs with market expansion across all products. Think of the product line manager as the business expert responsible for determining what product capabilities are needed to create stronger solutions across all products and why from a business and market standpoint.
Complement the product line manager with two functional designers who are the product and process experts responsible for defining how product requirements should work from the user’s perspective. This role is vital to product usability and requires detailed knowledge of how users will interact with the products. It’s also vital to training service and support personnel so they can make customers successful.
Complement the product line manager and functional designers with a product/solutions marketing manager responsible for messaging products to each market segment as a solution and making sure the sales force can talk the talk. The #1 priority of Product Marketing is to make sure the sales force can sell solutions you deliver today.
If everything works according to plan you’ll have products in higher demand, happier customers, marketing messages that resonate with prospective buyers and a sales and services team that can sell and deliver solutions you have today.