The following is a guest post from Natalie Yan Chatonsky. Natalie is the Head of Consulting at Brainmates, a Sydney-based consulting agency that helps organisations boost the performance of their products and people. Connect with her on Twitter at @Brainmates.
Businesses exist in dynamic, competitive global markets. In order to stay relevant many are innovating, developing new products and services as well as vigorously protecting their bottom line.
In this environment, Product Management is one function that can offer organisations significant benefits. Product Management brings with it good, solid business principles. No fancy acronyms, no catchy themes that fade with time. It essentially marries business objectives and target markets needs to deliver measurable, lasting benefits for organisations.
When practiced well, Product Management improves the product’s rate of success in the market, reducing costly product development efforts.
Here are some of other ways that Product Management can assist organisations.
1. Product Management Articulates the Customer Value That Sales Sell
Rightly or wrongly, the pressure to attain revenue targets in competitive conditions has increased pressure on Product Management teams to support Sales teams reach their short term sales targets. This propels both teams to sell products to ‘all and sundry’ even if it isn’t a good business decision.
Good Product Management applies a more sustainable approach and collaborates closely with Sales by ensuring that they are not pursuing the wrong customers. Product Managers who are in tune with the target markets and their problems are in a position to inform Sales on where the biggest opportunities are for selling their products.
Product Management articulates the benefits of products to their target markets, and can provide Sales with simple artefacts such as case studies of how their products are used by similar customers.
The increased dialogue between Sales & Product Management is a fantastic opportunity for both groups to identify new sizable target markets for existing products, and to identify any new market problems that may lead to new product development.
2. Product Management Reduces Risk of Product Failure
One of the first steps of effective Product Management is to prepare a business case before product development.
The very act of writing a business case reduces the risk of product failure. It doesn’t prevent failure, nothing can. But collating a set of assumptions, extracting business intelligence and scanning the market reduces the chance of failure.
The business case is a container for pertinent internal (capability, resources, business constraints) and external data (market conditions, market size, market trends, the competitive landscape). It helps organisations make better investment decisions.
Communicating the opportunity contained in the business case also further limits the risk of product failure. The proposal has to be sufficiently compelling to convince internal stakeholders to invest in the new product.
Developing new products without a plan that navigates the team towards success is like sailing a ship towards an unknown destination. There’s bound to be some expensive misadventures.
3. Aligning Market Needs with Key Organisational Objectives
Good Product Management ensures that any new incremental features, products or ideas that are launched solve quantifiable market problems which are aligned with business objectives. Whilst a focus on the customer is paramount, Product Management’s brings balance. It ensures that new products encompass both customer and business value to meet external and internal requirements.
If the development of the product does NOT satisfy or meet the business objectives even if there is an opportunity to be had, good Product Management should de-prioritise or discard it.
4. Product Management Future-Proofs Organisations
Product Management is a unique function in organisations.
They interface with many parts of their business and have the great visibility of internal projects as well as external factors to ensure the successful delivery of the product roadmap. They keep abreast of market changes, competitors, customer sentiment, the product’s performance and the financial intricacies of the product. Having up to date market and product knowledge will stand companies in good stead.
Whilst the role of Product Management was previously the catch-all of all urgent/non-urgent and important/unimportant issue that pops up relating to product, service or customers, its function has evolved to drive more value for the customers and their organisation.