Getting Your Organization to Care About Product Management
How do you get your executive team to understand the value of a good product management process? Unfortunately, it can prove quite a challenge.
While we know a solid product management game is the recipe for delivering good products, resulting in happy customers and a successful business, there are plenty of reasons why product management can slip down the executive team’s list of priorities: lack of product knowledge, pressure from investors and budget concerns among them.
If achieving product-market fit is the dream, then any stakeholder who can see their organization satisfying customer needs and positioned accurately within the target market will be delighted. They’ll know the marketing strategy is working and reaching the right people. They’ll watch sales numbers soar and churn decrease thanks to a knowledgeable support and customer success team. But they should remember that the product team is instrumental in ensuring this happens – and continues to happen.
Proving product management to your executive team
The core principles of product management aren’t restricted to the product team. Done right, product management touches all areas of the business, bringing together the vision, strategy, positioning, and development of the organization’s product. Let’s look at how a well-functioning product team proves to be such a valuable asset to a business.
Managing problem discovery
The product management team gathers valuable feedback from customers to get a better understanding of how the product is used so they can develop it further. But this feedback isn’t exclusive to the product team, it should be shared with everyone. For example, the customer success team can use it to see which elements of the product need to be explained better to new customers. Tweaking the onboarding process, after a handy piece of feedback around feature adoption for example, will reduce churn further down the line.
Product people are inquisitive and always looking to learn more. They spend considerable time researching the market, analyzing trends, and scoping out what can be done to improve the product. The product marketing team can use this intelligence when they position the product and write about it – so they don’t need to spend time and resources doing that research themselves. Instead, they can focus their efforts on delivering campaigns to generate new business and increase revenue.
Responsibility for prioritization
The product team is responsible for planning the product’s direction through discovery. This includes working through features to be added to the product, and deciding what problems or tests need to be prioritized. Working and agreeing on this information with the executive team allows the product manager to build and manage the product roadmap – which is a prototype of the strategy, a way of sharing plans with others to ensure everyone agrees on them. The entire company can have access to this roadmap and see what things are being worked on next, and more importantly why. For example, this level of transparency might show the sales team that it’s too early to trumpet forthcoming features; the roadmap might show they’re a long way off and even that the exact scope of the features could change significantly.
Bringing teams together
The product management team keeps everyone focused on north-star objectives, ensuring progress towards achieving them. A transparent, company-wide product strategy not only ensures everyone focuses on the right activities, but it also supports cross-team collaboration. Without product management teams, other departments end up working in silos, focusing solely on their own goals and neglecting the needs of the customer, to the detriment of the overall development of the product and the wider business objectives. The marketing team and the customer success team might need to work together on a campaign to re-engage churned customers, or the development and design teams need to be on the same page when building an exciting new feature. It is the product team that makes sure these initiatives happen around the company, by getting them involved in the product’s journey – after all, it’s the success of the product that’s going to make the money.
Set your business up for success with good product management
When other teams attempt to undertake the work of a product manager they likely compromise their own work, fall short in their product management responsibilities and adversely affect the business. If the marketing department is compromising its workload to take on product management then the marketing may go off-message; the development team may neglect its day-to-day work to spend time on product management and end up compromising quality. If the product team is well-oiled and supports the whole business, then other teams will have the bandwidth to reach their full potential, too.
It’s time to remind your executive team or C-suite members where the business would be if the product management process was compromised and the wrong stuff was built. Once they see the importance of doing product management the right way and that achieving a good product culture is paramount, they will invest in your team.
What does good product culture look like? Good product leadership enforces the clarity and direction that organizations need to deliver the best results. In a product-centric business, product management principles such as clear product vision, customer centricity, and commitment to quality inform the way people are organized and behave. Product leaders and product managers drive the product towards the long-term vision and make sure that all teams are working effectively. Most importantly, people work in an environment where autonomous teams operate with psychological safety.
Our product management tool, ProdPad, helps product managers to centralize their product vision and strategy, and minimize risk. It’s an approach that prevents a feature factory-shaped problem from rearing its ugly head so rather than build, build, build, you can build, measure, and learn. This saves you time, tech debt, and a whole lot of stress wondering why pointless stuff has been shipped. Why not sign up for a free trial to learn a little more about how our tool can help?