Functions of Product Manager - Good Product Managers Get Involved in all Phases of the Product Lifecycle
Astute product management requires the product managerâ€™s involvement at every phase of the product lifecycle. Starting with the initial conceptualization and coordination with the different departments, including liaising with finance, legal and other teams, and finally, driving the product to launch and after sales service by interacting with the sales and marketing functions.
To take each of these phases and analyze the functions of a good product manager, the following points need to be underscored:
It is the duty of the product manager to follow up with the sales and marketing teams as well as the customer service team to track customer complaints to closure. While this is a definite imperative in smaller organizations, in large sized firms, it is absolutely essential to have a dedicated team that does this.
Perform root cause analyses of problems being reported by the customers including any strange issues that have surfaced. Remember that effective product management also requires agile perception management wherein customers are satisfied and comfortable with the products and hence, any problem or issue that appears out of the ordinary has to be treated with urgency.
One of the neglected aspects of product management is the coordination with the finance and legal teams apart from other administrative functions. More often than not, a great idea or a great product might fail because the cash flows are not generated to the satisfaction of the finance team and hence the product becomes a loss making one. As important as it is to have excellent design and market sensing sales strategies, the right kind of financial ratios also need to be looked after if the company is to break even and make a profit on the product.
Of course, this does not mean that the product manager has to be a jack of all trades. The point here is that the product manager (in small companies) and the product management (in big companies) has the responsibility of being the point of contact or the go to person as far as overall responsibility of the product is concerned. Hence, without putting a finger in each pie, the product manager nonetheless should not lose sight of the big picture nor the attention to detail that separates effective product management from pedestrian product management.
The important thing to note is that the product manager must establish credibility with the different teams and the customers. In a way, the product management function is both external facing (customer centric) as well as internal facing (satisfaction of the internal stakeholders). So, a product manager must essentially be customer focused and at the same time must be cognizant of the needs of the internal stakeholders.
In conclusion, it is all about finding the right balance between the needs of the marketplace and the capabilities of the company. Only by matching these two and balancing the restraining and driving forces can there exist equilibrium in the organization in its internal and external dealings as far as product launches are concerned. So, product management is like a soap opera where the product manager is the conductor and the different teams the players or the members of the orchestra. Unless a product manager directs all the stakeholders to act in unison can there be music. Otherwise, there would be noise.