Ask A Good Product Manager

Your product management questions answered

How can product management work in a services firm?

Posted on July 15, 2008 · 1 Comment

Question: How can you apply product management to services?

What is the role of product management within consulting and training services providers? What are the activities of product management should take place in this case according to best practices through the whole product lifecycle from idea to delivered service? Can we consider consulting or training services as a product?

Answer from Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing: What’s a product? What is a service? And with today’s business models, is there even a difference? For most people, a “product” comes in a box; a “service” doesn’t. A “product” has a one-time charge; a service has a subscription fee. I buy Netflix to receive DVDs though the mail and a pay a monthly charge; it doesn’t come in a box; it’s a service. I buy a ROKU receiver for my Netflix service; it has a one-time charge; it comes in a box; it’s a product.

Here’s the important point: so what? How is product management different for products and services? Products and services alike need to be defined before they are delivered, priced before they are sold, and positioned before they are marketed.

Pragmatic Marketing has defined the activities of product management in the Pragmatic Marketing Framework. The framework illustrates the breadth of activities in defining and delivering products to market. The importance of these items vary through the lifecycle of a product but each must be addressed in one way or another.

The real challenge in the world of product and services is that many product managers are actually product designers, development managers and operations managers. If you’re a real business and not a hobby, you should have full-time professionals staffing these roles—design, development, and operations. These roles may change somewhat depending on how the product is delivered.

At Pragmatic Marketing, we offer training and consulting. Each product that we offer has been defined, priced, and packaged before it is delivered. The more you deliver the same thing to more people, the better you get at it.

By the way, I wrote about professional services as a special form of packaged services in Product Management and Services.

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