The Importance of Product Managers
More often than not, organizations spend a fortune on marketing and product development separately. This is the case with many companies that have different departments dealing with marketing and product development without any coordination. It is left to each of the departments to try and understand what the others are saying to form a cohesive and a coherent strategy.
In the corporate world, it is common for the delivery teams to say that marketing is exerting pressure on them to reduce the time to market times. While simultaneously it is also common for the marketing department to say that the delivery teams do not understand what it takes to drive a product into the market. This leads to a general sense of dysfunction within the organization with teams at odds with each other.
The solution in such cases is often a pragmatic look at what is causing the friction and empowering someone to liaise with the different departments. This means that there is a need for a product management team that tracks the entire product lifecycle starting from the conception and incubation to the marketing and after sales phases.
The need for such a product management team is often felt more in technology companies that have a laissez faire culture and may not have a holistic and integrated approach to the need to develop and market products. This approach has resulted in spectacular failures in the mobile technology market with leading players like Nokia and Blackberry getting dethroned from their preeminent positions because they did not sense what the market wanted from them and at the same time did not intuit what makes for a great idea.
However, this does not only apply to large companies who are bloated and not most efficiently managed. It is equally if not more important for small startups to also hire product managers. Though most of the times, this is true that we all tend to believe that being a CEO at a startup is more than a role-playing game; it’s a highly demanding position, in which it’s required to do simply… everything.
Most startup CEOs either don’t realize just what value a product manager brings to the table because they don’t know what a product manager does, or they believe they can juggle all of the business tasks along with developing the product they’ve so lovingly conceived and now want to bring to life. But product manager is a person who has to firmly say, “No, we are not going to add that ‘one more’ feature at this point,” especially when adding that feature would dilute the product and keep it from getting to market in a timely fashion.
There are three roles that product managers play to make them important in the firm.
- A People Manager
A product manager is in charge of the final product, but ultimately is a person in charge of other people. The product manager oversees the developers, designers, and even marketing and sales representatives. As such, a good product manager should have experience managing diverse groups of people and dealing well with the challenges that come with the territory.
- A Customer Manager
Even though product managers have to make gut decisions regarding product development, they should also be customer-focused and get out of the office to actually talk to customers. The customer knows what he or she wants out of the product; so asking for customer feedback is essential to stellar product development.
- A Metrics Manager
Along with being able to listen to customers and make gut decisions about product development, a skilled product manager will also know to track the metrics about product performance and usage, along with other metrics, when working on product development. Keeping a close eye on these metrics, analyzing them, and getting involved in marketing, sales, and conversions is crucial to a successful startup launch.
A product manager truly brings continuity to the entire product and business while ensuring efficiency among all departments. A productive product manager can make the difference between simple chaos and the organized chaos of a successful business.
Dechant, R. (2018) 7 Reasons why Product Management continues to play a greater role in SaaS. Accessed by: https://medium.com/point-nine-news/7-reasons-why-product-management-continues-to-play-a-greater-role-in-saas-1e558f944f44
White, G. (2017) The Importance of Product Management. Accessed by: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-product-management-greg-white/
Gavalas, N. (2016) The Importance of being a Product Manager at a startup. Accessed by: https://productcoalition.com/the-importance-of-being-a-product-manager-at-a-startup-882420828596
MSG (2018) The Need for Product Management in Organizations. Accessed by: https://www.managementstudyguide.com/need-for-product-management.htm