Product management is not project management.
Product management and project management are both abbreviated PM and have often been confused to mean the same thing. While the two have some similarities, they certainly do not mean the same thing.
Whilst both project management and product management are science-based disciplines that require an introduction to data analytics as the foundation, they have distinct differences and their execution requires different skill sets. Product managers are responsible for driving the development of products while project managers are responsible for executing already developed plans.
What is product management?
Product management is the product development function that deals with the management of planning, forecasting, production, marketing, and distribution processes throughout the lifecycle of a product. Product management focuses on creating products that meet the underserved needs of the customer.
What is a product manager?
A product manager, therefore, is an individual charged with two main roles and these roles define who he is.
- The originator of the strategy of products
- Providing cross-functional leadership to the teams (mostly engineering, sales, marketing, and support) and all other stakeholders involved
Responsibilities of a product manager
- Defining the vision, strategy, roadmap, and features for a product or product line
- Communicating the vision and strategy to the teams involved
- Collects and manages customer requirements of a product
- Manage the design, forecasting, production, testing, marketing, cost analysis, pricing, distribution and other activities involved in a product life cycle
- He lays out an operating plan which details the objectives like expected market share, expected revenue, expected profit, distribution channels, potential clients, and other details
- Acts as the voice of the customer, in other words, communicating, analysing, and prioritising the customer need for a product
- Builds a business case for a new or existing product needing improvement, creates customer satisfaction goals and drives the achievement of these
- Offers technical expertise to the teams he is working with
The importance of product managers
The role of a product manager is required for the business to achieve overall success through increased revenue and profits on one side and customer satisfaction on the other.
The product manager will guide an organisation on the best way to implement the often limited resources, provide for market needs, and maximise profitability.
Product management helps a business to achieve its business goals throughout the product life cycle from pre-development through to the end of life of a product.
Product managers represent the voice of the market inside the business. He gathers user experience-related information and interprets it to the stakeholders inside the business including the management, sales, marketing, and product engineers. This is for the business to turn these insights into actionable solutions that will align with market needs and the company strategy.
Ideas and recommendations from customers can be overwhelming to a business. The role of a product manager is to sort and pick only relevant ideas in a way that he reduces destruction and keeps the business focused on its goals.
Being the storehouse of market information, product managers link all departments involved in production into one true and clear view of customer requirements of a product.
Product manager skills
- Objective prioritisation
- Research and analysis
- Data analysis
- Statistics and quantitative analysis
- Market research
- Deductive and inductive reasoning
- Financial analysis
- Competitive analysis
Non-technical and interpersonal skills
- Communication (verbal and written) and presentation
- Leadership (including leading cross-functional teams) and teamwork
- Customer relations
- Product life cycle
- Critical thinking
What is data analytics
Businesses today rely on data to gain insight for most of their functions. This is done through a process known as data analytics.
Data analytics is the discipline of analysing raw data to discover trends and draw insight from it using specialised systems and software. The insight drawn from analysing data helps businesses make informed decisions and optimise processes for improved performance. Data analytics applications span across a broad range of businesses and industries.
Why is data analytics important?
Data analytics helps businesses to
- Improve efficiency in processes hence reducing the cost of operations
- Make informed business decisions
- Analyse customer trends and predict customer behavior to achieve customer satisfaction
- Produce better products that align with customer needs and values
- Gain knowledge and understanding of the industry to identify economic opportunities that are available for expansion
Why a product manager needs to know data analytics
Product management involves a lot of decision making and decisions are made based on data. Data analytics empowers product managers to make use of insights drawn from processed data to design better products and improve processes to better meet the needs of the market.
Here is why a product manager should know data analytics.
Product managers are not data analysts but they work with data analysts particularly in data-driven organisations. Familiarity with data analytics improves relations between the product manager and data analysts for better business outcomes.
Among the responsibilities of a product manager is interpreting recommendations from data analysis and form business cases. For this, he needs some data analytics skills, specifically the ability to understand and translate findings from data analysis to non-technical teams and other stakeholders involved. Also, the ability to create an all-round business case to the senior management which typically includes market assessments, budget breakdown, and other data-related reports to compel them into investing resources in the production of a product.
He will need data analytics skills to conduct market research and customer needs assessment which are key roles in product management. These determine the business case they will build, the plan, roadmap and other intricacies around product management. Navigating through the entire product’s lifecycle from the perspective or a product manager requires technical knowledge of data analytics.
The bottom line, the profitability of the product management role depends a great deal on how well data along with data analytics tools and techniques are used to transform information to revenue. In other words, the proper application of data analytics. Moving from prototypes to production and eventually, successful product consumption takes strong data analytics skills.
Take a step
If you are thinking about a career in product management, it is necessary to package yourself with data analytics skills among others like programming. While soft skills can be built over time, technical skills like data analytics need to be first learned in the classroom. You can opt to enroll for a data analytics course at any point in your career path. however, the earlier you acquire the skills the more advantageous it will be for your career.