Education

Both science and art

Product Managers are the glue that bind various cross-functional teams in a business.   | Photo Credit: Freepik

With our world becoming increasingly digital, it is necessary for organisations to pay attention to how the customer interacts with their product, service, and brand digitally. Building the Right Product, therefore, is the need of the hour. And this, in a nutshell, is the key cause for the rise of the Product Manager.

This person is the glue that binds various cross-functional teams, who touch a product from conception to launch and beyond — design, engineering, marketing, sales and customer success, to name but a few — and ensure that collective efforts coalesce into products that users love. According to 280 Group’s recent survey, a fully optimised Product Manager could increase company profits by 34.2%.

Why is this role important?

The process of building a product end-to-end and selling it successfully requires key contributions from many different specialist departments like — engineering, sales and marketing, operations, customer support. The Product Manager represents the customer’s voice while making key decisions throughout the product life cycle to ensure that the implementation does not deviate from the core vision as a vehicle to solve customers’ problems.

Different types

Strategic Product Management: This applies to those driving New Product or New Product Category introduction. Here, the bulk of the time is devoted to strategy, innovation and business model development. Key activities involve (but are not limited to) identifying consumer problems, ideation, product innovation, target market selection, segmentation, positioning, buy-build-partner choices, competitor analysis, SWOT analysis and so on.

Technology Product Management: For deeply technical products, the product managers end up spending most of their time in activities like requirements mapping, creation of user stories, product road mapping, feature prioritisation, driving the agile product development life cycle, and so on.

Business-oriented Product Management: This category focuses more on owning specific business metrics and maximising the performance of those KPIs by fine tuning product mix.

Competencies needed

Strategic mindset: Product Managers must possess a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the business and its competitors. To meet consumer demands, they need business analytics and crucial problem-solving ability.

Consumer-centric approach: While designing and developing the product roadmap, a Product Manager must always keep the end-user in mind. For this, they need to constantly interact with consumers by implementing a feedback loop.

Leadership and interpersonal skills: Product Managers must possess excellent leadership qualities. They must be able to influence team members (even if they are not directly reporting to them) and help them align themselves with the product’s core vision.

Mastering Product Management is part science and part art. While the “science” part of it deals with areas like Ideation, Innovation, Implementation, Industrialisation and continuous Improvement of the Product (5i Framework of Product Management), the “art” side requires one to go through as many end-to-end complete product life cycles as possible in one’s career.

The writer is Head of Programmes, UNext Learning, also member of NASSCOM Product Management SIG


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 8:49:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/both-science-and-art/article37147839.ece

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