In-life – where the rubber hits the road

You may have heard the expression ‘where the rubber hits the road’? It’s the point at which a theory or idea is put to a practical test.

It often seems that the people working on creating new products get all the glory compared to those of us working on in-life products.

New product development is exciting. It’s a world of possibility. Working on ideas that will potentially bring big rewards to the business. It’s all about the potential upside with little talk of failure – which makes it easier to get people enthused and on-board.

It’s also a chance to learn new stuff, get in front of senior management with good news stories and develop your career.

In-life, on the other hand is where reality bites. Of course, things can go well, but often they don’t. Let’s be honest, most products fail to hit their commercial targets. The job is about dealing with day-to-day problems, fire-fighting and trouble shooting. Perhaps the product is under performing or internal sales teams are focused elsewhere. So, you have to battle within the business to get things fixed.

In-life product management can feel like doing roadworks – a necessary evil. The job is tough and unglamorous. You often have to work hard with little recognition, get your hands dirty and persuade unwilling people to do what’s best for the product. But if you don’t, everything grinds to a halt.

Who, in their right mind, would swap working on new products for working on in-life products?

Well we would.

In-life products bring in the money – your role can have a huge impact. And working in the trenches helps you develop a strong feeling about all the moving parts needed to deliver success. It’s a great education in the realities of established business and not just start-up daydreams.

In many jobs, you will be working on new product development and in-life product management at the same time. Don’t neglect the in-life part – it’s where the rubber meets the road.

Andrew Dickenson
Director, Product Focus