What is product management?
Product management encompasses all of the steps involved in handling a product or service as it moves through the product lifecycle from conception to launch and through to optimization and pricing.
While the concept of SaaS products and offerings are relatively new to our economy, the same product management techniques that businesses use to define, scope, build, organize and maintain them have been honed in other industries and adapted for the fast-paced lifecycles of web-delivered services.
Ultimately, the end goal is to connect the needs of the customer with the qualities and features of the product or service in order to build the best product and bolster customer loyalty over the long run. Given all of the tasks that need to be balanced and prioritized, the skills of a good product manager are always in demand, while utilizing industry-leading product management software can help to facilitate all the moving pieces.
Why is product management important?
As product lifecycles speed up, customers continue to demand more, and as competition increases, being able to respond to customer needs while still building a functional, well-designed and technically sound product is crucial to continuing growth.
Product management helps tackle these challenges, bringing in support and perspectives that span a company’s strategic goals and tactical objectives — combined with customer feedback — and uses them to take an idea or vision and turn it into a product or service valued in the market. Product managers then work to define what a product team will deliver, set a timeline, create a testing plan, and sort through and prioritize customer feedback to set pricing and launch.
As such, product management also helps to introduce and maintain cross-functional involvement — namely design, development, marketing and sales — to help communicate progress, shape the product launch and continuously refine. To enable this, SaaS product management has taken the key concepts of agile software development and integrated them to form agile product management, embracing the idea of rapid, feedback-led interactions over one “big bang” delivery.
How are product managers different from project managers?
While there are some similarities, such as their role in communication and resource management, project managers focus more strictly on the execution of a project plan while product managers can curate the delivery of a product or service from idea to launch and beyond.
Product managers are key players in the strategic vision of the product and are influenced by customer needs, business goals and cross-functional input. Product managers also have a deep fluency in a technical field; are well-versed in development and user experience best practices; and are able to display key marketing, sales and customer experience skill sets.
On the other hand, project managers often do not shape the project objectives but are instead focused on delivering the product based on timeline, resources and scope provided. In other words, project managers are task-oriented while product managers not only set the vision, plan and manage development, but monitor progress through the milestones of a product’s lifecycle.