An idea transformed into its final avatar is a product. For the concept to achieve its final form, it has to go through a series of initial steps that lead to the final product. The intermediary steps include:
- Setting up a vision.
- Studying the market.
- Defining the strategy.
- Designing the product.
- Developing the product as per design.
- Testing the product against the design.
- Chalking out marketing strategies.
- Planning the launch.
For each of these steps to be a success, several people are involved in each stage. When there are numerous people involved, there needs to be a single point of contact for communication and one who can keep track of direction. This role is one of management, and the person playing that role is the Product Manager.
Defining Product Management
Product management is a role that involves planning the product, implementing the planned vision and strategies to bring the product to life, and supervise its smooth and successful delivery into the market.
Initially, technical lead developers or senior engineers took up this role to define the scope of the product, build the design and supervise the implementation. However, it is a full-time job that requires skilled leadership beyond the role of a developer. Therefore, it led to the separation of functions to create a new position called the Product Manager, who has the required business knowledge and understands both UX and product design.
Key Stages of Product Management
Let us see some of the critical stages of product management in the new product development (also known as NPD) life cycle and discuss the role played by the Product Manager in each of these stages.
- Identify New Opportunities: This is the first step to be managed in the development lifecycle of a new product. The Product Manager should be aware of the business trends and identify the opportunities to provide a niche for the new idea or enhance an existing option. The manager should have a deep understanding of the business to steer the team in the right direction.
- Develop Product Vision: The Product Manager is responsible for defining the project’s long-term vision and chalks out a clear strategy for implementing the project’s vision.
- Manage Development Teams: The team has to remain focused and motivated during the product’s lifecycle. The Product Manager must ensure that the team stays motivated. Communication is the key to keeping groups focused. When working with multiple teams, there should be appropriate communication channels between them.
- Manage Stakeholders: Stakeholder communication is also equally crucial for the Product Manager. Providing timely updates about the project and getting the stakeholders to sign off on time at every milestone stage is essential. Also, the Product Manager channelizes the communication between stakeholders and the production team.
- Perform Analytics and Experimentation: At periodic stages of the product cycle, the Product Manager must run analytics to measure the product’s performance. Analytics, along with metrics, can help gauge the market impact created by the product. BigQuery integration is one of the approaches that use the cloud data warehouse to analyze data for business agility.
Experimentation is about testing a hypothesis. It could refer to the entire product or a change introduced to the product based on user feedback or research to improve the product.
- Strategize Marketing: The Product Manager builds a clear roadmap to market the product, keeping in mind the project’s vision. The plan should have timelines and clear communication about when to launch the product and the steps to achieve the end goal. For example, Hubspot is inbound marketing, sales, and CRM software that helps you create content that will attract visitors and convert them into long-term customers.
- Manage Product Delivery: Product Managers work closely with multiple teams, including technical development, testing, support, and marketing, to maintain the project’s vision at all stages of the project.
- Manage Customer Feedback: Customer feedback is crucial in every project phase for every product. Companies build products for customers. So the Product Manager needs to manage input effectively. It is necessary to feel the pulse of the customer. Therefore, the Product Manager should seek consistent and constant customer feedback and customize the product accordingly to avoid any last-minute surprises.
- Track and Manage Product Metrics: Product Managers need to define and track many metrics at various stages of the product in the new product development process. It is vital to track these metrics and take appropriate, timely measures to manage them.
Metrics are broadly classified as Revenue/Financial metrics, User Engagement metrics, User Retention metrics, User Satisfaction metrics, and Product Popularity metrics. Choose the right metric to track and manage product performance under each category. The data collected from the metrics will provide helpful insights that can help make decisions about the product.
- Make Pricing Decisions: Pricing your product right is also a significant part of the launch. This exercise also requires the market analysis and popularity of your product. Therefore, Product Managers need to study the market, analyze customers’ needs, and guide development to match that need.
- Manage Product Marketing and Sales: Finally, the product is ready to launch to the market. Product Managers now study the market and decide on the right time to launch the product. Also, on the sales front, a campaign trail is started pre-launch, like a teaser to the actual product launch. An impactful launch will ensure that the product is successful.
Every stage of product development is vital in shaping the future of your product. It is essential to manage each step meticulously and consider the road to improvement at an early stage rather than later. Therefore, it takes a dedicated person who dons the role of managing the various stages of development of the product to ensure the focus is maintained at all times.
Although statistics show that out of over 30Knew products launched, 95% fail, it is possible to steer your product towards success by ensuring effective product management right from the start.