The P in Product Management (PM) really stands for?

At a recent event we ran one of the delegates asked (as a joke) …

“What does the P in Product Management (PM) really stand for?”

The answer – “It really means People Management!”

The explanation is below.

And that got me thinking about what else the P might stand for …

People Management

A lot of what you need to get done as a product manager has to be done by other people.

The diagram below shows how the role can touch nearly every other part of the organisation.

Starting on a business case? Well you’ll need to work with your Finance guys, speak to Sales to get their input into forecasts and talk to each department to understand the impact on their area.

Wheel

These people don’t report to you. What you want is probably not top of their priority list. They might even be completely against your new product as what you’re asking for conflicts with their personal objectives.

You have to persuade them to help you. This means putting effort into building a good working relationship and earning their respect. It takes diplomacy and tact. You need to master your facts. Have logical arguments. Be enthusiastic. Work out how you can help them in return. All your influencing skills come into play – you have to persuade, sell, trade, cajole, bribe, blackmail …

I always used to take a box of doughnuts along to my first meeting with the Development team. A blatant bribe to get in their good books. Still it seemed to work when I needed a small favour later on.

Project Management.

Product management and project management are often confused – well they’re both abbreviated to PM. And although our focus is on our product not a one-off project, a lot of what we do day-to-day is managing mini-projects. For example, the project to get the business case complete, to launch a new product, to do some competitive analysis.

As a product manager it’s hugely beneficial to have some project management skills. Understanding things like the importance of setting expectations correctly, managing stakeholders, tracking progress and avoiding scope creep are vital if you want to be effective.

Personal Management.

In my experience, it’s a very busy job being a product manager. So you’ve got to manage your time and priorities very carefully.

Not so long ago I learned of the importance of turning off the notification each time I got a new email. I couldn’t resist checking when I got the ping (of course they were usually spam). And each time it interrupted my stream of thought and distracted me from what I should have been getting on with.

Although not unique to product management, working out how to manage your time effectively is essential. You need to be able to focus on what’s important, get the most out of meetings and handle your emails efficiently.

Treat your time as a precious commodity – spending it wisely on things that are likely to make the biggest difference.

Proposition Management.

If you’re a product manager from a technical background it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking of your product as a data sheet … a list of features.

However your customers care about what the product will do for them i.e. the benefits they will get from using your product. That’s why they buy. Features are important but there are lots of other aspects that will contribute to their buying decision such as price, support options, training, terms and conditions etc.

To be successful you need to think about the wider proposition not just the product.

Can you think of any other P’s ?

May be Powerpoint Management 🙂

Ian Lunn
Director, Product Focus

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