While a product manager responsible for the business success of a product, it does not mean that he / she is a helpdesk with with the answer to all customer questions, or a key account manager responsible for the key contracts. But a product must ensure that the colleagues who have to carry out these tasks have the correct information. Thus they can perform their tasks and the product manager can concentrate on his ‘own’ work.
Broadly, this work is a continuous process of 6 activities.
- What happens in the world around us?
- What are the biggest challenges?
- Which products or product changes are required to respond to these challenges?
- Ensure that this is realized.
- Make the entire organization enthusiastic about these products.
- Tell world of what has been achieved.
What happens in the world around us?
- What are the trends in the market and technology?
- What are the customer needs?
- What does the competition?
- What are the threats of newcomers in your market, suppliers and substitute products?
The product manager collects in structural manner, information in conversations with customers and potential customers, by market research to be carried out, the Internet, reading articles and literature, to visit and study competing products.
A second part is to analyze the results of your products and product groups. What are the changes in turnover margin, numbers and composition? Changes in time, by region or by customer? Trying to understand what caused these changes.
Writing business cases
Because the world around him is continuously in his focus, the product manager will always see new opportunities (or threats to turn away). These require the product managers attention. The product manager writes business cases where he underlines the not completed challenges in the market to make money: with new products and services or extensions to / upgrading of existing ones. These could also mean that a product can be taken from the market.
The product manager also initiates and updates the product policy, strategy and portfolio. Of course, within the framework of the market and technology strategy of the organization. The scope is therefore usually 1-3 years longer than the scope of sales, who focuses on this year budget, but less than the organization’s strategy. Decisions about make or buying and identifying and developing partnerships.
An important element in this activity is the prioritization of product development tasks: how will the available capacity (of the development department, but also of the product manager) deployed efficiently.
Product Definition and Design
Before a development can be started, it should be clearly described what a product or product extension should do. Here clear priority must be given for the various product features based on product vision, target distinctiveness, cost reductions, quality, use cases, system and performance requirements, sales and support requirements, etc.
In this phase the product manager describes “what” needs to be achieved and leaves the ‘how’ to specialists in the development departments. Focus also non-functional specifications such as appearance of the product color, user interface and user interaction. But also reliability of the product and of course the time to market. This whole is finally put in a product development document (PDD).
Given the large amount of activities the product manager must perform, he can never perform project control adequately. To ensure that product vision may be carried out, the product manager must therefore confine to give instructions to the departments R&D and Communication, but also to Logistics and Manufacturing (L&P).
To this end we work closely with the project team and make sure the various disciplines within the organization are aligned assuring that the product development is on time and within budget. The product manager consults regularly with the project team and if necessary takes corrective measures deviations (in time / cost / function / quality).
Proclaim and promote the product
A product manager should ensure that other departments within your organization have the correct information. Indeed, the product manager should ensure that they are as enthusiastic about the product as the product manager himself.
To this end, he will communicate the strong selling points (customer benefits) and a potential target. The product manager stands strong for his product to internal teams such as sales, marketing, support and management and supports the sales offices in introductions and discussions of your products.
For existing products the product manager responds to requests from the entire organization for product changes (RFC) and to the product support department event of escalated problems (Off specs).
It starts with the independently and in collaboration with the sales department decide on / or updating product positioning, pricing, promotion, product portfolio and position relative to the competition.
The product manager promotes independently and in collaboration with the departments marketing and communications product, the customer benefits and applications to the press, dealers and customers, and the product manager will help to settle the name and reputation of the organization in the market through data sheets, presentation materials, brochures, websites, press releases and exhibitions.