What to Expect as a Product Manager in a Mid-sized Company
Rather than dealing with the start-up company’s challenges of introducing a product from scratch, a thriving mid-sized company tends to focus a significant amount of resources on bolstering their existing product or products to ensure continued high growth.
As a result, product managers in mid-sized companies focus on bringing along early adopters of products, keeping them satisfied and turning them into strong advocates for what you have essentially created together. Retaining your initial customers is an important task while you seek to build out additional capabilities than enable your product to appeal to the larger mass market.
Product Managers and the Mass Market
Product managers need to be aware that the mass market customers, who are also now a big factor in your business’s future success, expect the product to be fully loaded with all the bells and whistles they want. In contrast, early adopters were more concerned with helping develop the product’s basic capabilities and making sure their voice was clearly heard and heeded by the company. This requires a different mix of skills.
Product Management in a Mid-sized Company Demands Different Skills
In a mid-sized company, you will need to develop skills in seven key areas:
- Process development and deployment
- Cross-functional engagement
- Anticipating problems
- Staying calm under pressure
- Budget development and management
Dealing with Customers as a Product Manager in a Mid-sized Organization
No longer a struggling start-up, your company now has more staff and is a more complex organization. Managing a budget is now part of your responsibilities. However, like a product manager in a start-up, you’re still spending considerable time with customers. It’s just what you are doing with those customers that has changed. Now in addition to tweaking the product with the customers’ input, you’re also leading advisory committees, taking part in client conferences, selling to major clients, and supporting regional customer meetings. Your encounters with customers are more formal and organized. You’ll still engage with the development team, but now more people will be involved in more complex ways. There are other customer expectations as well.
You are the one person customers expect to keep products up to snuff and in line with market expectations. This is no small matter considering the increased size of your customer base. You must establish effective coordination and smooth running processes throughout your organization and you’re overseeing more of the tasks rather than doing them yourself. Clearly, the role of the product manager is more complex in a mid-sized organization. You’ll need to stay on top of a lot more relationships and tasks.
In my next post, we’ll take a look at the role of the product manager in a large, complex organization.