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The Pillars of Product Management

October 13, 2021

The wide-ranging definitions of product management makes it important for us to know what a Product Manager is and what it means. A PM isn’t just a role. It is a set of attitudes, habits and skills that define how we approach a problem. But above all, as a product manager we need to be adaptable because of their diverse duties.

 On the whole a PM is responsible for the success of the product, they own the product vision. Although the exact path a Product Manager takes to reach that success is unique and personal, there are certain characteristics they all meet to reach that success. So to better understand their role we will discover the Pillars of product management. On our way to discover the fundamentals of product management, we will review the definition of a Product Manager, his job, what a product is and its five essential components. 

According to the education site Disciplined Agile Delivery, the PM role is “focused on the long-term vision for the product, on observing trends in the marketplace, on identifying new potential outcomes or themes to be supported by the product, on supporting the sales/adoption of the product, and on ensuring the product meets the needs of the value stream(s) the product is involved with.” 

Therefore Product Management is the process of discovering, designing and delivering a product or a service that creates value for customers and their businesses. A product manager’s job is to manage that. He is the go-to expert on the scrum team that facilitates communication between the stakeholders and the team, and on doing that he ensures that the crew is building the right product at the right time. 

So what is a product? 

The definition of product varies from PM to PM. The direct definition from a dictionary is that a product is a thing produced by labor. A more pragmatic definition: “a well defined, marketable article of value”. Products can take many forms, physical, digital, personal services, some examples are cars, clothes, software, security service among others. A product can take any form but it has to be well defined and above all be marketable. As Marty Kagan writes “the product must work for the customer and the business”.

The product must work for the customer and the business, because a nice and attractive idea of a product provided by a well enthusiast customer does not necessarily mean that it is going to be a sellable product. Hence to correctly navigate the chaotic waters of product production we need to review the five fundamentals of the product management process: vision, value, cost, production, and impact.

Before any product comes to life, someone has to have a vision. That vision might not be born from the PM but he will be in charge of its development.  As a PM, you will have the role to take the team on a journey with a clear end-goal. What it would be and why it is needed. That vision usually gets constructed, however the idea of a product itself is not sufficient. We also need to assess other aspects as well. 

A profitable product vision is one that has value. The value explains the benefits of a product to the customer as well as to the business. Whereas it can be mistaken for cost or even price. In spite of their connection there is a difference. On the one hand, value is the utility of a good or service for a customer.

For example, if the customer has a 10 dollar problem that can be solved with a 1 dollar solution, then we are in the presence of a product that could be sold easily and in big quantities. On the other hand, the cost is the amount that the product will have to produce and to maintain. Cost includes: professional time, labor materials, marketing sales and potentially many others. Understanding the difference between value and cost can increase the profits. 

Another fundamental of the product process is the impact that it will have on the market and for the business.

PM will collect all the metrics of the product:

✔ How much it sells or how much is used

✔ What does the customer love or hate about the product?

✔ What is the reliability and longevity of the product?

✔ Where did it succeed and where did it fail?

✔ How will it impact people’s lives?


💡 All these questions will be considered throughout the production process. 💡

A good product will meet all these above mentioned criteria taken by the Product Manager, back and forward within the customer, engineering team, stakeholders and analyst. 

The link between the pillars of product management, is the capacity to communicate ideas while ensuring progress through the organisation of priorities. Priorities that should be clearly defined but that can change along the way. 

It is essential for a PM to be adaptable to change and calm through chaos. Since they are a chore role within the process. Because if you do not have collaboration, and you do not have great teams and you don’t have people driven to help each other, everything breaks down.

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Alexia Garcia

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