By Greg Geracie and David Heidt
Companies often struggle to maintain a good balance between their market activities and their product development efforts. The fact is – most new products are not ready for prime time. This circumstance leads to products that deliver less value than anticipated or fail altogether. The inability of organizations to effectively bring products to market often creates a significant drag on companies’ ability to innovate and compete in today’s rapidly changing marketplaces.
There are a significant number of reasons why it’s so challenging to effectively bring products to market. Some are external, such as changing market conditions or shifting customer needs. However, many problems result from internal challenges such as overstretched contributors, the wrong mix of skills, poorly understood processes, and misalignment between the core team members in the value creation process.
Professions such as business analysis and project management have boundaries and roles that are well understood. Both have their bodies of knowledge, process groups, and foundational knowledge areas. In contrast and ironically, the product management profession spans 70 years but has yet to fully codify its body of knowledge. The resulting lack of clarity on the responsibilities and boundaries of a product manager often contributes to many of the internal inefficiencies and missed opportunities we see within today’s organizations.
There is often tremendous internal confusion regarding the role, span, and scope of a product manager. Ambiguity in the responsibilities of this role leads to dissonance and tension as the key stakeholders in the value creation process – project managers, business analysts, and lead engineers – struggle to understand what to expect from product management. Given the profession’s historical fragmentation and lack of a solidified standard, where does one look? What are the boundaries of the role and how can we work together more effectively?
Product managers are responsible for creating and sustaining value throughout the entire life cycle of a product. The focus on creating and sustaining value is what makes product management unique.
The product management life cycle is composed of both stages and phases that chart the course of a product from its conception, the Conception phase, to its ultimate withdrawal in the Retirement phase. The stages and phases are concurrent activities. This framework is universal; it applies equally well to products or services.
Now that we’ve defined the role of a product manager and illustrated the life cycle, we can drill down a bit further and examine why business analysts and product managers are perfect partners.
Stay tuned for part two.
Greg Geracie is a recognized thought leader in the field of product management and the President of Actuation Consulting, a global provider of product management consulting, training, and advisory services to some of the world’s most well-known organizations. Greg is also the author of the global best seller Take Charge Product Management. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on high-tech and digital product management.