What is product management process?
August 28, 2018
August 28, 2018
One of the difficult questions to answer can be what is product management process as there is no clearly defined or accepted principle or workflow for product managers to follow. Instead, there is a laundry list of best practices for product management to guide decision making on product features but not a truly defined playbook. With that said, one of the biggest downfalls of product managers when trying to define what is product management process for their product is to believe they know the product, the industry and can therefore layout a product roadmap to accomplish their understanding of the needs. With this product management process in place, products typically fail to achieve customer adoption as the actual pain points are not solved.
Let’s start with defining what is product management process and workflow
Research: Product managers need to complete product planning activities which include completing user interviews to fully understand the pain points that customers are experiencing and to test concepts and feature ideas they are proposing to provide a solution to the problems. Customer feedback will validate a product or feature on your product roadmap and if it will solve a customer need. Additionally, product managers need to complete competitive research to see what is currently being offered in the space to ensure they are delivering features on their product roadmap that keeps them ahead. Additionally, product managers need to have a long term vision of where the product is going to ensure all of the smaller steps they take with releases and features all add up and stay on course to complete the long term product goals and objectives.
Feature Management: The goal of the research phase of product planning is to generate features for your product roadmap. Not all features however should be treated the same as some may take a lot of effort to implement with minimal rewards on the other end while some small features can go along way to solving real customer pain points with low effort. Product managers need product management software to organize feature management and apply data points and customer feedback loops to weight and score features to ensure they are working on the most important changes to advance their product and business. Product based companies live or die on the success of the product manager and it is important to not guess but to use consistent data points and customer validations to add features that will increase revenue and customer adoption.
Release Management: At a much lower level, product managers need to drive the operational work of delivering the specific releases that come along with release management that add up to the long term product roadmap vision. This requires defining the scope of a release, working with the product development team to execute their development lifecycle and represent the business in all product related discussions to ensure what is developed for the product is the solution that the customers need and requested. Many times, product mangers spend way too much time at this stage working in the weeds of a release and miss the larger picture of the vision of the product. If you find yourself spending all of your time working within a release or planning the next release, you need to stop and spend time in research and feature management. The biggest risk to product management is working too much in the product and not enough on the product. This means doing the legwork to ensure you are working smartly but quickly.
Roadmap Management: Releases are specific start and end projects to development and deploy specific features for your product. A collection of releases make up a product roadmap which shows the long term vision and the smaller steps required to get there. As product managers learn more about the space, the competition and complete user feedback loops the reality is that priorities change, industry needs change and customer pain points can evolve which requires a constant review of your product roadmap to ensure it is still up to date with the needs of your users. Product roadmaps should never be set in stone but used to guide the long term vision and be updated as that vision matures with the business and user base.
The product management process varies from product to product and team to team but generally all product managers should be working through a workflow to research, manage feature requests, define releases and align releases with the long term product roadmap. If you find yourself spending too much answering specific questions about a specific feature then you are missing the boat on what real product management is. Real product management is moving the product and business forward by completing research to layout a product plan that delivers high value features consistently to keep the business growing, customers happy and competition at bay.
Back to the question what is product management process?
The answer is that every company working with a product has a product management process regardless if they have a role called product manager. The question is just how mature the process is and will the process allow the business to grow and be successful. The best practices and workflow laid out help create and define a repeatable flow for whomever is wearing the product manager hat in the organization to follow.