Product Communications

Strategic Product Management as a Business Saver

Melina Laws
12.08.2021
7 Min

Master Daily Challenges with Strategic Product Management in a Flash

Paul’s Everyday Work in Product Management

8:00 in the morning. The alarm clock is ringing. Paul should get up now and boot his laptop in the living room. He is working remote from home. However, he decides to turn around again and stay in bed for a bit longer. He is too exhausted from yesterday. After all, yesterday was packed with hour-long team meetings, disagreements, and what felt like a hundred “construction sites” yet to be tackled. Paul is Product Manager and this is his everyday work.

As a Product Manager, he knows that the focus on the customer enjoys the highest priority when it comes to his line of work. Hence the saying, “the customer is king.” And customers are demanding kings. More often than not, they switch back and forth between several online shops at the same time and compare them in an in-depth manner to find the best product which fits their object of desire. Finally, when the customer decides to click on the shopping cart, Paul has reasons to celebrate.

Illustration Product Manager at desk | eggheads.net

And precisely this is Paul’s day-to-day goal. The most important task of Product Management is the analysis and targeted adjustment of products – using customer satisfaction as its measurable indicator. To this end, Paul engages in daily discussions about Product Development with dedicated departments such as Sales and Marketing, without ever losing sight of his personal goal.

Besides that, Paul has other task fields piling up on his desk. Such tasks do, however, only indirectly concern his role as a Product Manager. Everything is of utmost importance, everything enjoys the highest priority, and everything should have already been taken care of by yesterday. This is why an on-going project has been dismissed without achieving key milestones; and why a new project has been started instead without even defining clear framework conditions. Or let’s take another example: Owing to the circumstances of the corona crisis, the sale of products has been expanded to digital channels. For Product Management, this translates into much higher effort when it comes to managing and assuring data quality with various tools. Surely, some of us may be more than familiar with Paul’s situation, aren’t we?

At the end of the day, there’s only one thing left for Paul: exhaustion. He loses his eye for what’s essential: Product Development. As a result, Paul overlooks relevant information and on-going market movements which are crucial to the development of products. This, in turn, has an impact on the entire company. If Paul must grapple with all sorts of tasks, he can no longer develop products – at least not in a productive manner. Even less can he make time for focusing on product placement concerning the various target markets.

Is it not the product which is the most important sales indicator for a company? Naturally! Yet, if customers don’t recognize their use cases in a company’s products, they will not purchase them. The math is simple. It means a massive loss in sales.

However, how can Paul’s company keep its focus on sales-driven topics such as a customer-and-market-driven Product Development?

 

One Solution Approach is Strategic Product Management

The emphasis does, of course, lie on “strategic.” More often than not, companies lack a clear-cut definition of what Product Management is. They don’t have a good grasp on its position and function within a company. What is missing for the bigger picture is Product Strategy. This lack is a slippery slope towards confusions and conflicts between teams, departments, or even the management.

Strategic Product Management is about bringing unity into the manifoldness of unorganized task fields: developing products guided by a customer-oriented planning and presenting them in the right light to fit them into the company’s existing portfolio. In the process, Product Management serves as the essential link between various departments, such as Marketing, Sales, Development, IT, etc.

Sounds logical, does it not? Yet, things won’t keep running on their own and require a bit of controlling and coordination. In Strategic Product Management, the foundation is built to never lose focus on the essentials and their purpose in the big picture. First things first, clear tasks and goals are defined – and then adjusted and realized in correspondence with the other departments. This measure “softens” the boarders between the departments. Departments will have a clear idea and clear guidelines about their own function and responsibilities. And this, in turn, is the enabling condition for department-overarching collaboration, similar to a clockwork.

 

Paul’s Everyday Work with Strategic Product Management

Let’s return to Paul, the Product Manager. The implementation of the measures describe above were sufficient for changing his role significantly: From now on, he will take responsibility for a concrete and clearly defined task field. Before, Paul was responsible for various tasks concerning all sorts of products – now, he primarily concentrates on one specific product group.

This way, he can dedicate his fully energy to the development and adjustment of products throughout the entire Product Life Cycle Phase, while keeping an eye on the empirical indicators. With that, Paul finally has more time which he can invest into conducting research on fellow competitors, competing product markets, current trends, and even about the customers themselves. Once all empirical data is ordered systematically, this objective knowledge can serve as the basis for discussions and decision making. Advantages include that the coordination with other departments will be more goal oriented. Paul’s company will be able to respond to market developments much quicker and secure its own market position. Furthermore, the well-collected facts for customer-oriented adjustments can be applied to the products themselves in a timely manner during the Product Life Cycle Phase.

Even the management of product data has changed for the better ever since he started focusing on one assortment: Finally, no more masses of unordered tasks and product data piling up. Now, his primary attention is directed towards this one product group which he knows like the back of his hand. The accompanying product data is optimized on the basis of newly defined data quality criteria which, in turn, control releases and exports to targeted sales channels. Yet still, carrying all this out manually still poses a monumental challenge. As a Product Manager, it’s best practice to consider the implementation of PIM software.

Ultimately, it’s this interplay of all measures that provides customers with sustainable Product Experience. Customers catch on to the added value they receive from the product and will be quick to place your product in their shopping cart.

 

Conclusion: Towards a Successful Product Management with Strategy

The improvements which come with the implementation of strategic Product Management are enormous. Which is why it is no wonder that more and more companies jump on the bandwagon and adapt to the trends in their own unique way.

In particular, the department-overarching collaboration and communication is a central success factor of the measures involved, consequently contributing to achieving the clearly defined sales objectives. In Paul’s case, the introduction of a Strategic Product Management is a business saver. Especially when considering just how many goals he can achieve through more targeted work. Also, Paul’s personal situation has improved significantly, too. Strategic Product Management contributes not only to a more productive collaboration between Product Management, Marketing, Sales, and Development – but also to a quicker completion of given milestones, a healthy work environment, and a more enjoyable atmosphere overall. In the future, Paul will be more motivated to get on his feet, ready to develop the products of tomorrow.

 
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