HPM #01: What is Product Management?

HPM #01: What is Product Management?

As cliche as this may look, the oldest question in the book is still the most asked question about Product Management. A few years ago, I also asked this question. A friend of mine had just launched his first Product Management course on Pluralsight and just like 1 million+ other people, I found myself typing into Google; What is Product Management

Today, we are going to answer that age-old question in a way that'll make it crystal clear. We're going to break it down into three friendly sections:

  • What is a product

  • What is Product Management

  • Who is a product manager and what does he do?


What is a Product?

There are certain misconceptions about the term Product. A class of people believe that a product is anything you can see, touch, feel or carry around. While this is not wrong, the term product is not exclusive to just tangible things. It encompasses a broader spectrum. In his book; Product Management; The Complete Course, Nnamdi Azodo who is currently a product manager at Mastercard puts it nicely: A product is anything that provides benefit to the market. In essence, a product is anything whose purpose is to solve a problem and satisfy the users needs. They can manifest in various forms; be it physical (like your gadgets), digital (think apps and software), or services (like fixing your car).

But for today, we're diving deep into the world of software productsyour apps, websites, APIs, and the like. In that regard, it is safe to say that a product is any software designed and developed with the aim of;

  • satisfying a need,

  • simplifying processes and

  • providing solutions to users problems.

Before we move on, Think about your favourite apps. Chances are they're nailing one (or more!) of these goals, thanks to some talented Product Managers. They deserve a virtual high-five!

Now, that brings us to the next question;

What then is product management?

It is worthy of note that every product has a lifecycle and goes through different phases. In the case of software products, we have 4 different phases known as the product life cycle. They are; introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Product management is concerned with overseeing the product through all these stages in line with the business's goals and objectives. It is often defined as the sweet spot where user experience, technology, and business strategy all come together. I like to say that it is all about using technology to build products that give the users the best experience while making sure that the business objectives are met on a day-to-day basis.

Product management is the strategic act of overseeing the development of products that satisfy the users' needs and give them the best experience while making sure that the business objectives are met on a day-to-day basis.

And the individual(s) responsible for this is the (drum rolls please )

Product Manager.

Who is a Product Manager;

A product manager is a superhuman with the innate power to solve the world's problems.

Okay, scratch that; A product manager is an individual who joins all the strings required to deliver a great product. He is the first point of call for anything relating to the product. Think of him as the "captain" of a product's journey through life. Here's the secret sauce: The best Product Managers are like superheroes for users. They're on a mission to make sure the user experience is top-notch. They're the ones who speak up for users within the company, ensuring their needs are front and centre.

The job of a product manager cannot be streamlined because it differs across industries, markets and organizations. Also, depending on the size of a company, product management can be a team or an individual effort. A single product can also have multiple product managers who oversee different features and treat them like individual products.

So, What do product managers do?

You've met the heroes, but what do they actually do?

As previously mentioned, the job of product managers differ and if we decide to list out every single one, we may never exhaust it. I have simply outlined the core and general functions of product managers below.

  • Identifying the problem that the product aims to solve.

  • Conducting comprehensive research, including market analysis and competitor assessment.

  • Validating product ideas through testing and feedback.

  • Developing and articulating a clear strategy and vision for the product.

  • Prioritizing feature development based on user needs and business objectives.

  • Creating product roadmaps to manage production timelines and milestones.

  • Engaging in effective communication with stakeholders, including developers and designers.

  • Overseeing the execution and development of the product.

  • Conducting user testing to gather valuable feedback.

  • Launching the product and collecting post-launch feedback.

  • Analyzing the product's performance in detail.

  • Iterating and innovating based on insights and emerging trends.

Being a Product Manager is not a walk in the park. They face challenges, learn on the job, and adapt to the ever-changing tech landscape. But I can tell you this for free, it's incredibly rewarding. The chance to create something that makes a difference in people's lives and helps a company succeednow that's a pretty great job.

In a nutshell, Product Management is all about bringing the best of technology to create user-friendly, awesome products while keeping the business goals on the right track. It's a dynamic field filled with opportunities for those who love a good challenge and thrive on making the world a better place, one product at a time.

Thank you for reading. Hope you found this helpful.

Want to get started with Product Management? Stay tuned for more amazing resources like this. And if you have specific questions you need answers to, please ask!