Product Managers live in a complex world at the interface of several different disciplines. They must be able to understand business and markets, but also be technology savvy, have strong project management skills and be able to communicate effectively to the multiple diverse roles they interact with on a daily basis.
The role of Product Management in the IT industry is well established and recognised. It is often divided into Product Marketing Management and Product Development Management. The areas of influence of the two roles are well defined:
- Product Development Manager: the leader of the product design (implementation of features, project management of coding, product roadmap and lifecycle management)
- Product Marketing Manager: the leader of the product marketing in the broadest sense of the term (definition of value proposition, product placement, pricing, marketing communication and execution, sales support and direction, “voice of the customer”)
Very often the Development and Marketing Domains converge in a single bigger role and that is the reason why the Product Manager is commonly defined as the “Product CEO”.
Product management in manufacturing industries (every business that produces physical goods) assumes a more complex connotation with the addition of two further Domains: Manufacturing and Supply Chain.
Converging four different Domains in a single role makes it extremely challenging. While Product Managers should have above all, in my opinion, a business focused remit, the role they play with internal operations, external suppliers and R&D is key.
The best product idea means nothing if the product cannot be manufactured (at the right cost) because of the intrinsic complexity of the process or the lack of key parts/materials.
Product Managers in manufacturing businesses need to juggle with Development concepts and execution, the definition of how the product will be made, where the raw materials will come from, how scalable the whole process will be, all in relations the targeted market and value proposition.