Question: Do product managers really manage products, or just develop new ones?
If you have the title of product manager, but all you do is launch new products, does that make you in fact a product developer / project manager, rather than a product manager? After all, many of the same skills are required for product management and product development — e.g. understanding user requirements / needs.
Very often Product Management tends to fulfill tactical roles in organisations. But the role of Product Management is twofold; it is both strategic and tactical, long term and short term.
Product Management is responsible for identifying long term customer value and deliver ongoing financial results to the business.
To achieve these objectives, Product Management has to:
- Understand customer problems,
- Uncover Market Insights (competitors, industry trends, economic climate)
- Determine the market potential of new ideas
- Prepare Business Cases
- Define (Market and Product) Requirements
- Price new products
- Plan product launches
Depending on the size of the organisation, not all tasks may fall under 1 role but may be split across various people within the Product Management team. The larger the organisation, the larger the Product Management team and the more varied the roles within the team.
The person responsible for launch activities may be called a Product Manager or a Product Marketer or sometimes a Product Planner.
To answer your question more directly, those responsible in the Product Management team for product launches are sometimes called Product Managers. However, it’s important to remember that there should be a team of people responsible for product launches. There are Project Managers, Product Developers, and — yes –Product Managers as well.
Each role (should) coexists well together and is accountable for different components of the product launch:
- The Project Manager focuses on launching on time and within the project budget.
- The Product Manager focuses on articulating customer value and making sounds business decisions that impact the product’s finances.
- The Product Developer focuses on delivering a functioning product with the required features.
Launching a new product from idea to market delivery is a complex process. But perhaps the key ingredient to any product launch is the ‘upfront’ work around customer and market definition.
And, if all three roles consider the customer and appreciate their needs, then the product’s success in the market is greatly enhanced.