Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Product Management?

Welcome to the "PM Excellence" blog.

The intention of this blog is to share experiences and views on the discipline of Product Management. As I have a background in high tech, especially Telecom and IT, my own perspectives will obviously come from those industries. However I believe that many of the thoughts and concepts presented here will have relevance in other industries as well. So I hope we will see comments or entries from a wide range of industries and companies.

Let me "kick off" by offering my own definition, based on 20+ years of experience, of what Product Management is:

"Product Management is the discipline of bridging the gap between customer needs and company capabilities"

This definition firstly defines Product Management as a discipline. According to "" a discipline is an "activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves skill". Hence it is much more than a job description, it is something we can all be better at by doing it. The objective of this blog is to inspire you to become better even excellent product managers.

Secondly this definition requires a deep understanding of customers actual needs. The excellent product manager will strive to understand exactly what it is the customer tries to do with the help of the product. This might be very different from what the customer initially is asking or expecting from your company but can provide a powerful sales platform for valuable discussions with the customers. This obviously implies that product managers needs to be in very close contact with customers and markets - but this should be obvious, right ?

Thirdly the product manager needs to have detailed understanding of the company's capabilities. Note that this should go well beyond the normal building blocks of the standard products you do and well into any other capabilities the company might have that can be used to satisfy customer needs. This is one of the areas where Innovation practice can provide valuable input to the product managers. You will most likely be surprised where you can find valuable elements for your innovative products when looking outside your normal "product comfort zone".

The next natural step here is then to ask ourselves what a "Product Manager" is! Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to get back to that later.