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Product management is an organizational lifecycle function within a company dealing with the planning, forecasting, and production, or marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle.
The role may consist of product development and product marketing, which are different (yet complementary) efforts, with the objective of maximizing sales revenues, market share, and profit margins. The product manager is often responsible for analyzing market conditions and defining features or functions of a product. The role of product management spans many activities from strategic to tactical and varies based on the organizational structure of the company. Product management can be a function separate on its own, or a member of marketing or engineering.
While involved with the entire product lifecycle, the product management's main focus is on driving new product development. According to the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), superior and differentiated new products — ones that deliver unique benefits and superior value to the customer — are the number one driver of success and product profitability.
Depending on the company size and history, product management has a variety of functions and roles. Sometimes there is a product manager, and sometimes the role of product manager is shared by other roles. Frequently there is Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibility as a key metric for evaluating product manager performance. In some companies, the product management function is the hub of many other activities around the product. In others, it is one of many things that need to happen to bring a product to market and actively monitor and manage it in-market. In very large companies, the product manager may have effective control over shipment decisions to customers, when system specifications are not being met.
Product management often serves an inter-disciplinary role, bridging gaps within the company between teams of different expertise, most notably between engineering-oriented teams and commercially oriented teams. For example, product managers often translate business objectives set for a product by Marketing or Sales into engineering requirements (sometimes called a Technical Specification). Conversely they may work to explain the capabilities and limitations of the finished product back to Marketing and Sales (sometimes called a Commercial Specification). Product Managers may also have one or more direct reports who manage operational tasks and/or a Change Manager who can oversee new initiatives. Where manufacturing is separate from the research function, the product manager has the responsibility to bridge the gaps if any exist.
- Product Life Cycle considerations
- Product differentiation
- Product naming and branding
- Product positioning and outbound messaging
- Promoting the product externally with press, customers and partners
- Conducting customer feedback and enabling (pre-production, beta software)
- Launching new products to market
- Monitoring the competition
- Identifying new product candidates
- Gathering the voice of customers
- Defining product requirements
- Determining business-case and feasibility
- Scoping and defining new products at high level
- Evangelizing new products within the company
- Building product roadmaps, particularly technology roadmaps
- Developing all products on schedule, working to a critical path
- Ensuring products are within optimal price margins and up to specifications
- Ensuring products are manufacturable, and optimizing cost of components and procedures.
Inbound and Outbound Product Management
Many refer to inbound (product development) and outbound (product marketing) functions.
Inbound product management (aka inbound marketing) is the "radar" of the organization and involves absorbing information like customer research, competitive intelligence, industry analysis, trends, economic signals and competitive activity as well as documenting requirements and setting product strategy.
In comparison, outbound activities are focused on distributing or pushing messages, training sales people, go to market strategies and communicating messages through channels like advertising, PR and events.
In many organizations the inbound and outbound functions are performed by the same person.
- Aggregate project plan
- Brand management
- Crossing the Chasm
- Customer experience
- Marketing management
- Mass customization
- Product (business)
- Product life cycle management
- Product manager
- Product marketing
- Product planning
- Requirements management
- Software product management
- Service product management
- Technology roadmap
- User experience
- Kahn, Kenneth B. (Editor). The PDMA Handbook of New Product Development. Second Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. ISBN 0-471-48524-1
- By Robert, Michael on Product Management and Marketing. Product Management & Product Marketing - A Definition." April 7, 2006. Retrieved March 1, 2012
- By Steven Hanes. "The Product Manager's Desk Reference." Published by McGraw Hill. Page 390.
- By Scott Sehlhorst, Tyner Blain. "Foundation Series: Inbound and Outbound Product Management." January 18, 2007. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- By Tarquin Clark, Toolbox. "Which is more important, inbound or outbound product management?" September 12, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2012.