Product management is an organizational process which encompasses the entire lifecycle of a product spanning from the production of the product to its packaging, inventory, marketing and final consumption.
Product management defines what the product should be, based on the perceived desires of the customer. Depending on its magnitude, a product can have a number of people responsible for managing its lifecycle, from frontline staff responsible for every small specification and adjustment in the product to senior level managers who define the strategy and direction the product will take in the future.
Secret to Product Success
The key to the success of a product is to create an offering for the consumers which is differentiated and fulfills a need other products fail to. A product’s profitability is dependent on how current the product remains with evolving consumer demands and how it continues to differentiate itself from rivals in its segment, in the consumer’s eyes. The profit and loss of the product is also a metric for how well the product manager is doing their job.
Any product goes through four main stages; Introduction, Growth, Maturity and eventually Decline. The introduction phase is characterized by high investment and low return as the organization invests in research and development and marketing efforts. During the growth phase the product starts gaining a foothold in the market and results in profits for the organization. The maturity phase sees a plateau in the products growth. The product has established a foothold in the market but is in danger from imitation products as well as becoming a victim to its own inertia, unless it continues to evolve according to consumer needs. The Decline phase is characterized by a saturation of the product or cheaper alternatives available in the market.
Product Manager Responsibilities
The Product Manager is responsible for the technical aspects, marketing side and the overall strategy of the product.
Typically, Product Management has fallen under the umbrella of the Marketing department. However, Marketing departments are not always responsible for defining the product, only its eventual delivery, whereas the product manager has to take responsibility of both.
Others have attempted to place Product Managers in Sales or Development, but this relegates the role to a mere support function.
Therefore, some organizations have started establishing separate Product Management departments which are responsible for collaborating with the Marketing, Sales and Development departments while overseeing the entire product lifecycle. The product manager must handle all three domains at both a tactical and strategic level for the product.