What is Product Management

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If you are interested in working with top technology players in the world, product management is one of the best career options for you.

But if you have been wondering “what is product management”, in this post we are going to decode that for you.

Product management is perfect choice for people with technical background like programmers or people with business background like MBAs, sales, and marketing etc.

In this post, I am going to talk about field of product management. This is going to be a very high-level introduction to keep things tidy, but it will help you in building the intuition.

We will touch upon the field of product management and what it entails.

Please leave your comments if you have any specific question.

If you look at the google trends for search term “what is product management” in USA, you will find that it has been consistently growing especially in last few years.

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And if you were to review trend of search term “what is product management” in India, you will see a similar pattern where in past five years, it has seen a uptick in its search.

what is product management india

These trends indicate higher interest of people in this search term which essentially means that there is higher demand and awareness about product management today and it is going to further rise in coming years.

What is Product management

Product management in a nutshell is the field of identifying a problem and building products or services to solve it.

Product management in a nutshell is the field of identifying a problem and building products or services to solve it.

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It is not a textbook definition, but this is what product managers do.

Product management essentially deals with building useful products for the customers and ensuring that company stay ahead in the competition.

Facebook after hitting a saturation in its growth in 2008-09, introduced translation services and local languages support to expand Facebook in international market.

Till 2008-09, it was largely USA centric.

So, product management include identifying areas of improvement or expansion and then building features to address them.

If we were to breakdown entire field of domain, we can roughly divide product management in these sub-activities.

Product Management

Product Idea & vision

It all starts with an idea.

This is a common phrase you might have heard before, but it is not true.

It all starts with a problem.

You as a product manager or founder, try to address the problem with your solution. And this is where you need to bring your idea.

Idea in product management is based on empirical evidence and data. It is less about your creativity and more about validity of the idea.

Idea is closely linked to your hypothesis in product management.

In fact, that is why if you are a startup founder, this is the stage when you need to work on your product vision.

If you are joining a company like amazongoogle, apple as product manager, chances are you are going to work on an existing product and you already have a product vision. Click on these links to go through some of the product manager's job openings with amazon and google. 

But even there if you are working on a completely new product, you need to work on your product vision.

So, when you are working on a problem, you need to build a hypothesis.

If you are coming from data science, you might think in terms of null hypothesis or alternate hypothesis. Practically or conceptually, it is same but in product management it is JUST hypothesis.

Conceptually a hypothesis is a possible explanation of the given situation based on available data which is usually insufficient at initial stage.

You are essentially trying to decode why it is happening.

So, if your sales are down, your hypothesis will revolve around why your sales are down.

This will include analyzing all the associated data like.

  • Sale channels
  • Customer demography
  • Location
  • Weekly/monthly data
  • Any other data you might have

So, one of the first activity you need to do as product manager is to.

  • Identify problem
  • Gather information about the root cause of the problem
  • Identify your customers and associated data
  • Build a hypothesis
  • Apply any framework to develop a solution

While working on your idea, it is very important to evaluate all your ideas for the cost of implementation and value they are going to deliver for your business.

In this illustration, i am randomly trying to show two features and their cost and value. Feature delivering more value should be priortized over the over delivering low value and higher cost. 

idea visulization matrix

Stakeholder management

Product management include working with different set of people like.

  • Your team
  • Working with other teams and
  • Working with customers or vendors who are not even part of your organization.

Art and science of managing anybody and everybody you work with is called stakeholder management.

You can use frameworks like RACI matrix to identify and categorize your stakeholders.

Stakeholder management is very important in product management, business analysis and project management.

You need to know;

  • Who to listen
  • Who to ignore
  • Who to inform
  • Who to consult
  • Who it follow

You need to ensure that all the stakeholders are appropriately engaged and informed with your product plan.

Product strategy

As a product manager, you will spend most of your time with product strategy.

It is the science and art of identifying your goals and how to achieve them.

Strategy in general is all about achieving your goals and steps you take or products/features you build to achieve your product vision.

Product strategy deals with identifying.

  • Goal
  • Metrics
  • Features
  • Prioritization of features
  • Building a product roadmap to achieve and deliver those features
  • Communicating your product roadmap to your stakeholders

Product maintenance and exit

Product maintenance and exit is all about maintaining and understanding your product life cycle.

When you are just launching your product, you need to determine what kind of features are required to generate traction in the market. If your product is successful, you need to keep iterating and improving your product, this process is called product maintenance.

If your product is not doing well, you need to plan its exit. For example, google tried a lot with google plus but failed to get any traction, so they closed it and used its assets to build google current which is currently offered with google workspace.

Google plus as such has ceased to exist. So google has exited the google plus product.

What is product management- Conclusion

This is a very high level but significant introduction to the field of product management. Today entire business management can be termed as product management.

That is why all the major companies across world and cutting across domains/industries are hiring product managers.

Now domain of product management has existed for some time now but gained lot of traction in last few years. If you are looking to become a product manager, it is the right time.

In the next post, I will talk about product manager.

If you have any comment, question, or suggestion, please leave your comments.

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About akhilendra

Hi, I’m Akhilendra and I write about Product management, Business Analysis, Data Science, IT & Web. Join me on Twitter, Facebook & Linkedin

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