The Product Management Triange

In order for a product to be successful, a company must design, build, test and market the product effectively and a  Product Manager leads or facilitates various activities to achieve that. Thus on a daily basis the Product Manager must deal with the the triangle of forces that is People, Process and Technology.

A Product Manager needs to work with customers, development, design, operations, customer support, sales and marketing, company executives and industry analysts on a regular basis to define product requirements, prioritize them, ensure product quality, listen for feedback and communicate current product information and future vision. Each group requires a different communication style and a Product Manager must master the art of effective communication with each group. Often a Product Manager needs to negotiate product priorities with customers and sales or process with engineering, operations and support. Strong Negotiation skills can be of great benefit in resolving any differences that arise.

A Product Manager needs to have a process that allows information to flow from the market to the company and back to the market. Having a well defined process and leveraging effective tools allow a Product Manager to first transform market and customer data into a prioritized backlog for engineering and secondly transform the key results delivered by engineering into marketing and sales messages that can be communicated back to the market and customers. Tools chosen must not define the process, but rather the process must define the tools that are selected.

It goes without saying that a Product Manager deeply understands his or her product and the technology it leverages. However, in addition the product manager must be aware of various technological trends that the product may be able to leverage to solve existing problems faster or solve new problems. Understanding technological trends and exploiting key trends in a product can help the company stay ahead of customer needs as well as competition.


Data driven Product Management

The benefits of Data-driven decision making have been long known. In 2012 a study from the MIT Center for Digital Business found that organizations driven most by data-based decision making had 4% higher productivity rates and 6% higher profits. Thus arises the need to develop and cultivate data-driven product management which values product decisions that can be backed up with data.

Today its more easier than ever to extract product data, whether its from web analytics tools, API analytics tools, bug tracking tools or customer service tools. Each of these tools themselves have APIs and data from these tools can be extracted and correlated to identify trends. With all of this data available at our fingertips it becomes easy for us to make informed and better product decisions.

One of the many but most important question that product managers need to think about and answer with this data is where is the money? There are two part to this question – What about the product makes customers open up their wallets and what makes them walk away. In other words, what is working and what is not.
Measuring whats working can begin with identifying the most used features in the product. Once we know what customers use most of the time, a percentage of product development can be spent on nurturing those features – making the user experience better and fixing bugs. This helps in keeping current customers happy and attracting new ones who may find these features beneficial as well. On the other hand, measuring what isn’t working isn’t as simple as identifying the features that customers are not using, although eliminating the most unused features can help simplify the product and improve user experience. A better approach is conducting a Funnel analysis to identify where the roadblocks are and what isn’t working. If we identify where we are losing customers, we can begin to address their concerns and capture lost opportunities.