As mentioned in a recent post, building consensus is vital to your success as a product manager. But, perhaps an even more basic need for the product manager is to understand the company’s key objectives. The company’s business plan can be a good place to find out what you need to know.
The Product Manager and the Business Plan
Getting familiar with your organization’s business plan is the best way to fully understand what your organization expects your team and department to accomplish.
Why is the Business Plan so Important to the Product Manager?
The business plan is a document created by upper management that is laser focused on your company’s major business objectives and the logic behind them. Its primary purpose is often to attract investment capital. It can also be a good road map for you as a product manager because it explains how your organization plans to reach its goals. Usually the business plan is shared with senior leadership, potential investors and the board of directors.
What to Do if Your Company Is Reluctant to Share the Plan
You, as a product manager, may have difficulty getting your hands on the business plan. Before you ask to receive a copy, it is wise to determine the company’s attitude toward the business plan. Even if you decide that your company will be reluctant to share the plan, there’s a way you can still get at the information you need. Consider asking for just those elements of the plan that relate to your product or area of the business. Because your management knows that you are responsible for the success of your product, it will likely see the wisdom of sharing this portion of the information with you.
What Product Managers Can Expect to Find in a Business Plan
The more complex your business the more complex you can expect its business plan to be. Most business plans range from 15 to 50 pages. Writers of well-written business plans strive for brevity and clarity. Most plans contain the following sections:
- Executive summary
- About the company and industry
- Market dynamics
- Administration, organization and people
- Key milestones
- Risks to the business
- Financial data
Every business plan begins with an Executive Summary. The Executive Summary provides a boiled down view of the key information contained in the plan. It also includes information about what will be sold, the market, the company’s competitive environment and what gives your company’s products or services a competitive edge.
Key financial information will also be highlighted in the Executive Summary along with the financial resources the company anticipates needing and how funds will be spent.
In my next blog post, I’ll explain additional information product managers can expect to find in each section of the business plan and why it is important to them in their efforts to help the organization meet objectives.