What is Product Management? - Definition & Tools

Instructor: Jagina McIntyre

Jagina has conducted professional training in communications and analytics for 12 plus years, with a a degree from Kent State University in Journalism and Communications.

Welcome to a great overview of how a product successfully grows from a simple idea into an actual item that can be purchased in the market, and learn just what skill sets you'll need along the way.

How to Take on the World of Product Management

Have you ever wondered how a product makes it onto a superstore shelf? Who made that idea turn into reality? Perhaps you have your own product idea in mind and wonder just how to get the ball rolling. Learning how product management works is certainly the best place to start.

According to the Business Dictionary, product management is the development, marketing and sale of a product to a customer. Product management starts from when a product is merely just an idea and continues all the way through the lifecycle of a product, including when the product arrives in the customer's home. A product manager drives the strategy for a product or group of products. Product managers are often responsible for educating the executive staff on the need for the product in the market.

Product management differs based on the company and type of products. However one thing is consistent, the product manager represents the customers' needs. The product manager is responsible for bringing together the technology, business, and users. The technology includes the actual product itself. The business represents those that have the ability to bring the product to market, and the user is the customer that has a desire for this product. Other than the chief executive officer (CEO), the product manager is the only other person in the company who has a focus on bringing all the aspects of a product together.

Skills of a Product Manager

Although the roles of product managers differ, there are several attributes that they share:

  1. leadership - comfortable guiding the product though the process.
  2. strong communication - able to keep everyone involved in the product lifecycle informed.
  3. influential - able to rally a team behind the product development.
  4. collaborative - able to work with teams.
  5. expert knowledge - know the product from front to back.
  6. innovative - always looking to solve problems with new solutions.

Let's Look at an Example

Imagine you work for an established shoe company. You have taken on the role of a product manager for the specialty market in tennis shoes. After researching the market you learn that there is a growing trend for breast cancer survivors and their family members to become more physically fit. Several of the company's well-known competitors have already released a new line of pink gear into the market. You bring the idea of creating a line for that cause to your executive staff, indicating a desire to tap into that market as well.

You work with the research department to survey customers about their interest in this potential line. After receiving favorable feedback, you work with the product design team to develop a new shoe which is layered in three shades of pink and white. Unlike the competitors, you convince your team to imprint a word on the heal of each shoe, such as 'hope', 'freedom' and 'life' to make a lasting statement. After receiving a prototype for the line of shoes, you work with the marketing department to create a line of print ads that picture women's shoes running through dirt leaving an imprint of a word behind. You then track the daily sales of the new shoe line and provide reporting back to the executive staff.

Phases of Product Management

A product manager is the product champion, meaning that they are the person who stands behind all phases of the product from inception to development to release. Although the roles vary by company the phases are similar for each product manager.

A product manager role starts with an idea that is walked through these product stages:

  1. define market and customer
  2. define problem and value proposition
  3. define requirements
  4. research competitors and products
  5. sales and marketing launch
  6. stakeholder communications
  7. report and analyze results

Product management is a revolving wheel that is responsible for developing a product through its lifecycle.

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