Product Management Myths and Reality


What has changed, over the years, in the technology industry; which required a role of a product manager?

I did not hear the designation of a product manager 10 years back, there were business analysts, project managers but not the product manager. There is an argument, that somehow end-user needs got detached from the technology-driven product. The product manager enables a company to rapidly deliver products to market since it skims and skips lengthy traditional market research, and consequently bases product design decisions on internal company expertise. Probably yes the business has been changing so rapidly which required this as a specialized role.

So who is a product manager? A business analyst, UI/UX expert, Technology expert, Project manager, Sales associate, Network specialist?

I think the answer is none of them, the commonly used a vague definition of product management misleads and allows many people to place their own personal interpretation on the role of product management, and this is leading to a multitude of diverse definitions in the technology industry. As a product manager, you need to be the like the conductor of the orchestra. You may not know which API’s to call, which would be better to have a server hosted application or a cloud platform, does the customer care about all that?  The Product manager should be as a voice of the customer and should be ready to take tough calls, he should be creative and clear in his ideas and politically correct to get it implemented, should be listening to thought but at the same time should the person who would call the shots.

Does the definition of the role of a product manager in my company same everywhere?

Every company is different and handles product management differently – meaning that the product management discipline is not standardized as much as it could be across the high-tech industry. Further complicating the situation is that in each company there are individual stakeholders who often view and interpret product management very differently from each other. Based on my conversation with various product managers working in different companies, some say that they have been recurrently successful as product manager while others said that they have been just lucky till now, but now they are working on having a consistent understanding of the product management in the organization.

What do you understand by Product manager as the CEO, of the product?

This statement is been used quite often in various blogs, talk’s and books. The product management comprises of all the activities that are responsible for the product to be successful in the market. For example, providing incorrect market requirements, erroneous pricing, or an inaccurate profiling of the target market can all be detrimental and critical. If just one of these aspects of product management is a miss, then the product’s chances of success are greatly diminished and who shall hold responsibility for the failure of the product; The Product manager! And it’s his responsibility to fix it.

How important is the role of a product manager in making a product successful?

Some products are successful because of external factors, timing, or merely good fortune. Not all successful products have had great product management behind them, but it is clear that many product failures have had poor or no guidance from product management. Numerous cases where companies like Google, Apple, JP Morgan’s and Microsoft failed and the most decorated product managers were needed to step down whether it was Apple map or google phone.

 Is it necessary for the product manager to be an Agile/Lean/RAD/waterfall expert?

Well, there is no right or a wrong model for a project, there are instances where the agile model may lead to budget overruns due to continuous change in product requirement, despite having the most amazing product the time to market the product led to product failure. I think everything works, even tossing a coin before choosing the model of development might work for you, but you need to make it work for you.

To conclude, I think there is an increasing need for standardizing the product management as a discipline, and every dollar that a company earns through product development some portion of that dollar they should reinvest in improving the area of product management. Efficient product management practices within the organization increase product managers on job productivity and improve a product’s chances of commercial success.

 

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