After a lot of hard work, you’ve finally released the product that you’ve been thinking about for years. Now that its officially released, what’s next on your list?
How do you plan on handling periodic updates to products? Who will manage user feedback and figure out the best new changes to make? Is someone in charge of the overall success of your product?
If you want to ensure that your product succeeds, you need to switch your focus to product management.
Consider this post your official introduction to the world of product management. You’ll learn what a product manager does, how it differs from project management, and what you can do to build a successful product management strategy.
What Is Product Management?
Simply put, product managers are people that are devoted to the overall success of a product. Product management can be seen as a mix of strategy, finance, research, and communication.
Product managers will focus on new product development, forecasting, pricing, product launch, and product marketing. They have a hand in everything that needs to come together to successfully launch a product.
Project Management vs. Product Management
It isn’t uncommon for some people to use the terms project management and product management interchangeably. Product and project managers will work closely together, but their jobs aren’t exactly the same. The main difference between both jobs comes down to focus.
If you need someone to figure out the best kind of product to release or do research on potential new features to add, you’re going to want a product manager. If you need someone to execute your ideas and make sure that things run smoothly, you need the help of a project manager.
Think of product managers as the CEO of a product. They take a high-level approach to managing every aspect of a product. They’ll make strategic decisions around what gets made and can prioritize certain features over others.
Project managers typically oversee the production work of the tasks the product managers ask for. They make sure that deadlines are kept and can relay any possible issues to product managers.
How To Create a Solid Product Management Strategy
Now that you have a bit of background on what product managers do, let’s spend some time on how you can form a comprehensive product management strategy of your own.
The key with all things product-related is to keep your bottom line and end-users at the forefront of everything you do. Once you keep that in mind, forming the rest of your strategy is simple.
If you’re new to the world of product management, make sure you keep these tips in mind as you build your strategy.
Stay in Touch
Project managers are there to supervise the day to day work of building a new product, but that doesn’t mean that product managers can step out of the process.
Along with a short daily check-in, be sure to have weekly meetings with project managers. Having everyone together can give you a better idea of how the project is progressing as a whole.
Take time to periodically check-in with other stakeholders outside of your department. Make sure that development has everything they need and that sales know when new products will launch.
If you don’t communicate often, you open yourself up to problems. Sales may be using PIM open source as their main software when you thought they were still using Hubspot. The design department may not know that you wanted a complete UX change two weeks ago.
A product manager is going to be the one that has the final say in terms of what gets worked on, but that doesn’t mean that they should be the only ones to work on strategy.
When you’re coming up with your product strategy you should involve as many stakeholders as possible. Development team reps, marketing, and sales reps, UX designers, and even service and support should be involved in the planning process.
Having different points of view in the planning stages can be very helpful. Someone on the dev team may have good points about functionalities you may not know about.
Know Your Market and Competitors
The world of product management and development isn’t made for guessing games. Don’t make guesses about what your customer base wants or make any stereotypical views about their needs. Take time to do in-depth research on current customers and future demographics you want to target.
You don’t have to put a lot of money into customer research. Your social platforms and website already collect a lot of data about customers, so start your research there. In-person and email surveys are also great ways to learn about your customers.
Take time to study the market and your direct competitors. Set up social listening so you can stay on top of any announcements and subscribe to industry publications to ensure you’re always in the know.
Revise Your Roadmap
We understand how important it is to hit certain deadlines and milestones when you’re working on a new product. Timing is important, but you could argue that flexibility is more critical.
Corporate interests may shift, a competitor may have beat you to release, or changes in staffing could make it harder to achieve your original goal.
Roadmaps that aren’t built for flexibility can easily fall apart once an unexpected change happens. That’s why it’s important for product managers to make plans that can adapt to change.
Give your deadline dates some wiggle room so being a week or so behind doesn’t throw things out of order.
Business Done Right
Proper product management can play an important role in the overall success of all products you launch. If you follow these steps we outlined in this article, you’ll be on your way to having a solid product management strategy of your own.
Product management is only one-way product-focused businesses can succeed. There’s still plenty to do in terms of marketing, sales, customer service, and more.
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