Product management in 5 simple steps

My goal in this post is to break down the main activities great Product Managers do and briefly discuss each. This is meant to help organize and break apart the complex world of product management and allow further research into each area (this article does not cover aspect of Product Strategy and Portfolio Management, just managing and growing a single product).

The goal of a product manager is to help drive the product forward, make it better and create more value to the company and users. To do so there are 5 main activities involved (In really fast environments, like small startups, complete cycles can happen in less than a day!)(Quick Note: As the company gets bigger the below activities are usually divided among several product managers)

 

1. Discover features – Products are made of features. Each feature creates value to the user and allows him to interact with the product. Methods for feature discovery are abundant. From brainstorming with employees to adding a feedback mechanisms to you current product. I will cover this topic more in depth  in one of my future posts. (Note: Feature discovery could also include removing or iterating on current features.)


2. Prioritize– Since many times discovering new features creates a huge list of possibilities, this step is crucial in order to use resources well and deliver the most value. My thoughts and a model for prioritization can be found here.

3. Execute– Getting things done. Agile, waterfall, sequential, parallel, alpha, beta, etc. There are many ways to execute and this is a huge topic covered by many writers. For some interesting reading I recommend looking into the book about the lean startup movment from Steve Blank and Eric Ries.

4. Communicate – It’s not enough to add a new feature to you product. Company’s today must let the users know of it’s existence and educate the user base on how to use and derive value from the new feature. There are many ways to do so, and Google is one of several companies that has been doing an excellent job. I will cover this topic more in depth in future posts.

5. Measure– Now that you built it and put it out there, good PMs measure the feature’s success. Is it being used? by which segment of the users? etc.  A great resource to look at for inspiration on what to measure is Metrics for Pirates although since each feature is different relevant metrics must be defined.

That’s it, all of these activities are usually done in a continues manner and all at the same time. When some features are being discovered, others are being executed and so on.

How to use this blog and where to go from here 
My goal in this post and others is to build a knowledge map for the main activities Software Product Managers are responsible for. I plan to continue discussing and breaking apart each activity. Slowly, I hope to turn some of the art behind product management into a science.  Take a look at the Product Management Framework page for more info.
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