There are some underestimated functions un business and Product Management is surely one of these. Nevertheless, sound and extended Product Management is key for safeguarding and improving general performance of your business. Here is why and how Product Management is a Key attribute of a successful organisation.
Major symptoms when solid Product Management is lacking are:
Difficulties with legacy products and simultaneous management of different versions. Consider consumer loans or mortgages, which have life cycles over decades while general terms and conditions are changing quite often.
Decentralised and uncoordinated management of organizational documents and instructions. Consider operational procedures, forms, data quality rules, decision taking instructions …
Reinventing the wheel for (only partially) new products. Consider developing new forms, instructions, terms and conditions, actuarial calculations, applications and more from scratch, while so many fundamental elements of a ‘new’ product already exist.
Lack of agility to reply to a changing environment. When you do not have control over what you produce and how you produce it, you cannot be creative and flexible to adapt, to identify the essential things, to do the urgent things first and the others afterwards. Every situation needs again an assessment, an analysis or a study to … identify what you do, how you do it and how you could adapt it.
Several projects and disparate management attention to a single product / service. Consider the marketing project, the sales approach, the operations project and the customer support project, all different initiatives about the same product.
Sound Product Management is a pivot key for many essential aspects of an entreprise:
Enterprise Service Management: having a single reference point about product attributes over time and perspective is essential to manage coherent enterprise service management (ESM: the organisation enabling to serve a customers coherently and completely).
Agility: the ability to adapt to specific situations, clients or trends starts with having tough control over what you have, what you do and how you do it. Agility is more about being creative and effective with what you have than about creating new elements.
Performance management: every product should fit into a business model (insight about how you create value), so performance reporting per product, product group and interactions are critical governance indicators. Sound product management is also a basis for lean management.
Quality: being consistent and stable in creating the expected value for your client requires solid control on operations and is the basis for continual improvement.
Business continuity: having complete and actual control over all essential elements of a product and its production process is the basis for continuity management.
Compliance and governance: having defined, stored and managed approved versions of all elements of a production process and decision criteria is just the ideal fertile ground for far-reaching empowerment, while holding fundamental control over operations.
The above points are the business case for product management. It still needs to be righteously conceived and implemented. Here are the key success factors for effective product management:
Multi-facet: product management scope should enhance all facets of product management: conceptual management, economics, marketing, technical management, productivity, process, data management, support ...
Multi-functional: the output of product management should serve all the functions of your organisation. Consider not only the primary lifecycle of a production process (marketing, sales, on-boarding, production and after-care), but also supporting functions like budget control, performance management, logistics, facilities, and even HR).
Strategy and alignment: the architecture of your products is part of (or is equal to in some viewpoints) your business architecture. It therefore should be structured around your business models and detail in a pyramidal format to very tangible and usable components.
Integrated: an enterprise should have an integrated approach to its products and services. That does not mean that every detail should be validated at the highest level, but that information and changes should be open to all for amendment and alignment. Specialists should take responsibility in a framework of corporate accountability.
Workflows and information flows: management and mainly amendments in product components should follow a decision and information flow compliant to how corporate accountabilities are distributed in your organisation.
Based on business models: Products are only the deliverables delivering value to your customers. Your business model(s) is/are your vision and strategy on how you will interact with customers and thus how (by what products) you will create value and profitability. Consequently, your product architecture needs to be coherent with your highest level of governance.
User-Focus: you are not doing product management for the sake of it, but to help your employees, partners, clients, managers and other stakeholders to better realize your business model. Therefore, you should set up product management focusing your attention on who will use it and how it will be used.
Platform-based: the toolset for performing product management should be part of a platform, integrating at least process management and configuration management and preferably customer contact management, monitoring and reporting.
When thinking about product management, you should consider it as the backbone of your operations and develop a very ambitious view. Only then you will reach its full potential and it will become the backbone of your operations and development.