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Friday, March 29, 2013

Top 3 Priorities of a Product Manager

Once again, quick one from a discussion had with someone walking down the aislel.

Product managers do too many things for success of their product. They work with cross-functional teams, do competitive analysis, author PRDs etc . While all these are important and must be done on time, there are certain aspects of a product manager's life which should always be on the radar of a wise product manager. These are 3 simple things that a wise product manager should always observe and improvise on. 

Understand the market / opportunity

What is in it for me? Knowing market and keeping oneself up-to-date with the developments in the market space is of paramount importance for a product manager. What is your customer doing? how are his / her needs changing? any new technology that might bring in new competition? any significant move in government policies that might impact your business or any change in compliance norms etc.

Actions of a product manager should be driven by market dynamics and hence it is imperative that a product manager always have an eye dedicated for observing market. This not only helps in prioritizing product backlogs efficiently but also helps in designing a fit-to-market product.

Understand the tool / product

Product is weapon that helps its owner (product manager) to conquer market. Knowing functional and non-functional aspects of the product is not enough for a product manager. A good product manager should always check for future readiness of the product. What can be the maturity path of the product? is this a good tool for horizontal market coverage or for vertical  market coverage?

Product owners need not to be product experts but they should understand the DNA of their product, they are best to judge the product fitness to evolving needs of the customer. They should be among the first to gauge the 'decline phase' of product. This helps in may ways, product owner's can plan for alternate / new product, alter pricing strategy, take informed decisions on what orders to accept and which one to avoid etc. 

Understand the driver / self

are you the one who can drive this product to conquer that market opportunity? know yourself, know your strengths and areas where you need to improvise before you take that large step. While you may have a large addressable market and a decent product but you may not be the right person to drive this opportunity. Know personality and traits that makes you. You may be a good driver for opportunities in corporate section but average in telecom and poor in government sector. Many product manager who are doing good in education section may find it difficult to drive products in industrial domain simply because they do not understand the target market. So know yourself, work on your shortcomings, take feedback and improvise.

Winning is important and so is to understand what to win? and how to win?. A wise product manager will never let these 3 priorities slip from his mind. So irrespective of the domain, product or product phase, type of organization or type of product, a wiseproduct manager  will always have these 3 priorities on his/ her radar.


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