Product Management

Knowledge Center

Summary, forum, best practices, expert tips and information sources.

Contributed by: Aniket Deolikar

44 items • 15.357 visits


Product Management

What is Product Management? Meaning

As the name suggests, product management is the organizational function which takes care of a product during every step of its product life cycle. It stretches from market research to product design and product development to the pricing and positioning and marketing of the product but its focus is on the product and the customers.

Product management requires coordination of multiple teams, processes and business units and the person who is responsible to make that happen is called a "Product Manager".

There are many definitions of "product management" out there, but let's define the product management from the lens of a product manager. For this, we should first breakdown the term into it's components and try to understand what it actually is. This is a common way of working for a product manager. So we breakdown the term and we get two words: 1) Product and 2) Management.

A "product" is a good (including related services) that a company sells and "management" is what all managers around the world do. This means that the whole of "product management" revolves around how successfully you manage your product to achieve the best results.

The responsibilities of a product manager can range from designing various features of a product, building different prototypes, taking feedback and implementing changes to the prototype, designing the final product, to maintaining and updating the product.

Some people call a product manager the "CEO of the product". However, product managers do not have a direct authority over their various teams, so they must learn to lead without authority, by influencing people with his/her vision and approaches.

History of product Management

The concept of product management started back in 1931 when Neil. H. McElroy at Proctor & Gamble wrote a famous memo justifying the need to hire more employees. Proctor & Gamble(P&G) is an American consumer goods company which has a wide range of products. The memo was an 800-word document which described the term Brand Men who were responsible for all the operations of a brand from advertising and promotions to tracking the sales. A typical Brand Man had to carefully study the shipments of the brand, examine the brand development and take efforts according to the situation, take full responsibility for the plans of his brands, etc. McElroy restructured P&G into a brand centric organization where focus on each brand was important. This led to a new era where various companies focusing on brands were formed and later this led to more focus on on individual products. This was the foundation of what we today call Product Management.

Key Functions of a Product Manager

The main functions of a product manager are typically as follows:

  • Performing marketing research
  • Understanding the customer utility and/or needs
  • Prioritizing potential product enhancements and customer requirements
  • Understanding the customer experience and taking measures to improve it
  • Setting a vision for the product
  • Communicating this vision to stakeholders
  • Contributing ideas in the product design
  • Development of a product strategy
  • Creating and maintaining a product roadmap (A product roadmap is a visual summary of the product strategy which shows the vision and direction of the product over a period of time. It can be used by everyone to be on the same page and gain context on their daily work and the next targets.

Components of Product Management Strategy

There are broadly 4 key elements in a product management strategy:

  • CUSTOMER: The first and foremost thing is to consider what the customers want and what you can provide them. So, you need to define your customers carefully. You should have a strong, in-depth understanding of the customers' needs before strategizing the product.
  • TECHNOLOGY: This is obviously also a key aspect as new possibilities can enhance existing products or even enable new ones.
  • COMPETITION & ENVIRONMENT: The macro environment includes the economical, political, cultural and technological forces which have a direct impact on the market and thus on your product's entry in the market. You should study these factors well before deciding on the product launch. Furthermore, understanding the competition is also an important aspect of the product management strategy. You have to determine how your strategy will differentiate yourself from the competition. Your product should try to deliver what the competition can't. You should try to discover new opportunities which are not being currently taken advantage of by other firms/products.
  • BUSINESS: If the main objective of your organization is to make profit and your product is not making much profit then it's not going to be a success. So, you should take into consideration the goals and objectives of the organization while developing a product and how it will help the organization achieve its goal.

Benefits of Product Management. Advantages

  • Increases collaboration between internal teams.
  • Reduces the risks of product failure (it doesn't guarantee that the product won't fail). Because the product management team performs extensive research and considers various scenarios before the product launches, this improves the product before it is even launched.
  • Customers' preferences are taken into consideration carefully, which increases customer acceptance and satisfaction.
  • Aligns products with the organization's long term vision and objectives. This can create more value for the product and helps to ensure the product properly represents the ideas of the organization as a whole.

Limitations of Product Management. Disadvantages

  • Taking care of all main elements (technology, business development and analyzing user behavior) is hard.
  • Sometimes a preference of product managers for existing technology or historic product success may prevent them from looking at new possibilites and at the bigger or future picture of client and overall market needs.

Gayle Laakmann McDowell (2014), "The Product Manager Role"
William Malsam, "What is Product Management?"

Special Interest Group

Product Management Special Interest Group.

Special Interest Group (39 members)


Forum about Product Management. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

Start a new topic about Product Management


🔥 NEW The RICE Score Model for Prioritizing Product Requirements
Put yourself into the shoes of a Product Manager. You've been looking into various reports and data related to your product's active user base. You notice an increase in customer drop-off over the pas...
The 7 Most Popular Project Management Methodologies for Product Management at a Glance
Project Management is one of the most important skills in today's working environment. A successful project manager uses many different approaches to manage his/her project efficiently and productivel...
Product Mix and Pricing
WHAT IS A PRODUCT MIX? MEANING The Product Mix, also called: "Product Assortment", or: "Product Portfolio" is the complete set of product lines or items (see Product Hierarchy for more information) o...
Product Hierarchy
WHAT IS A PRODUCT HIERARCHY? A Product Hierarchy is a method of classifying a firm's products/services based on their essential components into an organized and logical structure. This structure is m...
Configuration Management Summary
CM is a process for managing complex (mostly technical) systems by establishing and maintaining consistency of a product's performance and functional and physical attributes with its requirements, des...

Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about Product Management. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about Product Management. Here you will find professional advices by experts.

How to Detect Consumer Needs that are Unmet?

Product Innovation, New Product Development, Innovation Strategy
In their article New Business Models in Emerging Markets" (Harvard Business Review, January-February 2011), Matthew J. E...

Pitfalls and Obstacles in Product Development Strategy

Product Development, Product Portfolio Management
Although product development can be an important growth strategy, it is necessary to keep in mind that several factors t...

How to Lead an Innovation Team

Best Practices, Innovation Team Management
In order to become a great innovation team leader, Ram Charan suggests in the article "P&G's Innovation Culture" (strate...

Designing Complex Products or Systems Through User Involvement Early in the Life Cycle

Design Thinking, Disruptive Innovation, Blue Ocean Strategy, Introducing Complex Systems, Co-Creation
Today, organizations are increasingly developing and designing new and complex products or systems. In other words, the ...

How to Find Good Product Ideas? List of 10 Approaches

Discovering New-Product Ideas, Creative Approaches
In his book “Product Leadership: Creating and Launching Superior New Products”, Robert Cooper suggests following ten way...

Innovating Under the Radar

Avoiding 5 Obstacles to Major Innovation
If somewhere below in a large corporation an innovator has a very bright, daring, promising but for some perhaps also th...

The Mandate of NPD and the Degree of Change that is Required

New Product Development, NPD Process Improvement
When using the Stage-Gate process, a strategic implementation plan is advisable to avoid stakeholders’ disappointment re...

Why Some Technology Revolutions Take Off and Others Don't

Adoption of New Technologies
Back in 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, in which he suggested that the entrenched interes...

Don't Make this Frequently Made Mistake in Product Management!

Innovation Management, Product Marketing, Product Lifecycle Management
Watch out for a frequently made mistake that is based on a wrong interpretation of this model: Do not assume aut...

How to Design Experiments to Support Decision-making on Strategic Innovations

Strategic Innovation, Strategic Decision-making, Strategic Experimenting, Experiments, Strategic Testing, Innovation Tes
The probability of success of a major innovation is difficult to assess. Statistics and other datasets only provide info...

Innovating Bottom-up or Top-down

Corporate Innovation Approaches
I just read an interesting article by professor Deschamps on encouraging innovation within large organizations. Deschamp...

How Can Incumbents Respond to Disruptors?

5 Strategic Options in Reaction to Disruptors
In recent years, the challenges to incumbent majors across industries have come mainly from low-cost competitors and fr...

Typical Product Characteristics and Changes during PLC

Product Management
Products may change dramatically during their PLC in terms of quality, design, differentiation degree, destination of us...

Innovation Pitfalls

Avoiding Innovation Traps
Harvard Professor R. Moss Kanter describes 4 common innovation mistakes and corresponding remedies (HBR Nov 2006): 1. S...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding Product Management. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Improving Product Development Processes to Manage Development Risk

Innovation of Product Development Processes
To create new products, firms employ a product development process (PDP) to generate new product concepts, to translate ...

Managing Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence, Business Intelligence
Presentation that gives an introduction into Competitive Intelligence: definition, its usage, its process and best pract...

3 Key Benefits of Cross-Functional Teams for Innovation

Innovation, Team Work, Multicultural Teams, Bureaucracy, Multi-Functional Teams
In innovation you need a team of people with the right mix: the members should come from different departments like Mark...

External Environment In-depth: Sub-types and How to Manage Them

External Environment, Environmental Scanning, Environmental Management, Competitive Environment
This presentation covers the topic of external environments and includes the following sections: 1. Environmental Scann...

Concept Testing and Conjoint Analysis for New Products

Concept Test, Concept Statement, Conjoint Analysis, Product Design, Product Innovation
Presentation about concept testing and conjoint analysis, including the following sections: 1. Evaluating with Customer...

Research Links

Jump to further research sources regarding Product Management.








Compare with: Product Assortiment  |  Product Competition  |  Product Development  |  Stage-Gate  |  Product Hierarchy  |  Product Leadership  |  Product Levels  |  Product Life Cycle  |  Product Line Pricing  |  Product/Market Grid  |  Product Mix  |  Product Portfolio  |  Marketing Mix

Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about Product Management? Become our SIG Leader and gain worldwide recognition as an expert.

Return to Management Hub: Marketing & Sales  |  Strategy & Innovation

More on Management  |  Return to Management Dictionary

This ends our Product Management summary and forum.

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 3-6-2023. All names ™ of their owners.