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The Strategic Role of
PRODUCT MANAGEMENT
               How a market-driven focus
                leads companies to build
             products people want to buy
                              By Steve Johnson
About the author                                             Why are we Pragmatic Marketing?
             Steve Johnson is a recognized                   People sometimes ask why the company is named
             thought-leader on the strategic                 Pragmatic Marketing. “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”
             role of product management and                  they ask.
             marketing. Broadly published, a
             frequent keynote speaker and winner             The “pragmatic” moniker makes sense: we offer
             of the Software Idol contest at the             practical, no-nonsense solutions to the problems
Business of Software 2007 conference, Steve has              facing technology product managers. It’s the term
been a Pragmatic Marketing instructor for more               “marketing” that throws people.
than 10 years and has personally trained thousands
                                                             Technology businesses use two definitions
of product managers and hundreds of company
                                                             of marketing:
senior executive teams on strategies for creating
products people want to buy.                                     1) the market experts and business leaders
                                                                    for the product
He teaches several top-rated seminars including                  — or —
Practical Product Management, Requirements
                                                                 2) the t-shirt and coffee mug department
That Work, and Pragmatic Roadmapping, as well
as many on-site workshops.                                   As quoted in this e-book, Peter Drucker defines
                                                             marketing as “to know and understand the
Prior to joining Pragmatic Marketing, Steve
                                                             customer so well that the product or service fits
practiced the discipline of product management
                                                             him.” We use this classical definition of marketing.
for over 18 years at a variety of software and
hardware firms and served as head of marketing
for the leading provider of performance
management software.

Read more from Steve at his Product Marketing blog.




 The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   2
The Pragmatic Marketing Framework                               ™




 The strategic role of product
 management is best defined by
 the Pragmatic Marketing Framework,
 a model for market-driven companies
 to build products people want to buy.




                                                                                                                                 © 1993-2008 Pragmatic Marketing, Inc.




                                         The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy       3
As an instructor at Pragmatic               5 Who Needs Product Management?
Marketing and author of the
ProductMarketing.com blog,                  9 What is Marketing Anyway?
I am frequently asked to speak
and write about the strategic
                                         18 Where Does Product Management
role of product management
                                            Belong in the Organization?
in technology companies.
This e-book is a concise
                                         21 The Product Management Triad
summary of why product
management is probably the
most important role in an
                                         26 Roles and Titles
organization. I hope it helps
you and your company deliver             29 Product Management in an Agile World
more successful products
to market.                               33 Final Thoughts. . .
                – Steve Johnson

                                         34 Learn More About The Strategic Role of Management

Please feel free to post
this on your company’s
intranet, your blog or
                                     Copyright © 2008 Pragmatic Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved.
e-mail it to whomever                Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License. Attribution 3.0.
you believe would                    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
                                     Other product and/or company names mentioned in this e-book may be trademarks or registered
benefit from reading it.             trademarks of their respective companies and are the sole property of their respective owners.




                                  The Strategic Role of Product Management                  How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   4
Who Needs Product Management?

      Product management is a well-understood                                   A story...
      role in virtually every industry except
      technology. In the last ten years, the                                    Your founder, a brilliant technician, started the
      product management role has expanded                                      company years ago when he quit his day job to
      its influence in technology companies                                     market his idea full time. He created a product
      yet we continue to hear the question,                                     that he just knew other people needed. And he
      “Who needs product management?”                                           was right. Pretty soon he delivered enough of the
                                                                                product and hired his best friend from college as
      The role of product management spans                                      VP of Sales. And the company grew.
      many activities from strategic to tactical—
      some very technical, others less so. The                                     But before long, the VP of Sales complained,
      strategic role of product management is                                      “We’re an engineering-led company. We
      to be messenger of the market, delivering                                    need to become customer-driven.” And
      information to the departments that                                          that sounded fine.
      need market facts to make decisions.
                                                                                     Except… every new contract seemed to
      This is why it is not surprising that 8% of
                                                                                      require custom work. You signed a dozen
      product managers report directly to the
                                                                                      clients in a dozen market segments and the
      CEO, acting as his or her representative
                                                                                      latest customer’s voice always dominated
      at the product level.*
                                                                                       the product plans. You concluded that
      Companies that do not see the value                                              “customer-driven” meant “driven by the
      of product management go through                                                 latest customer” and that couldn’t be right.
      a series of expansions and layoffs.
      They hire and fire and hire and fire the
      product management group. These same
      companies are the ones that seem to have
      a similar roller-coaster ride in revenue and
      profit. However, over the years we have
      seen extensive evidence that product
      management is a role that can even out
      the ups-and-downs and can help push a
      company to the next level of performance.




  * Pragmatic Marketing’s Annual Survey


                                              The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   5
Who Needs Product Management?


                                   When a board member declared, “We’ve                Soon the CFO whispered to the founder,
                                   become a sales-led company. We really               “Don’t you think it’s time we started
                                   need to start being marketing-driven,”              controlling costs?” So the company became
                                   you hired a brand specialist away from a            cost-driven and started cutting all the
                                   consumer product company to be your                 luxuries out of the business, like travel,
                                   VP of Marketing. As part of a re-branding           technical support, bonuses, and award
                                   initiative, she designed a new corporate            dinners. And Marketing!
                                   logo with a new color scheme for the web
                                   site, new collateral, and an updated trade          The CFO asked, “What do those marketing
                                   show booth. Everyone got new company                people do anyway?” And since no one
                                   icons on their clothing. Except… you spent          had a good answer, the CFO deleted
                                   millions without any change in revenue.             the marketing budget and fired all the
                                   Apparently, branding wasn’t the answer!             marketing people.

                                                                                       At this point, when Finance goes too far,
                                                                                       the founder steps back in to focus on his
                                                                                       roots—the technology— and the cycle
                                                                                       begins again. The VP of Development says,
                                                                                       “Customers don’t know what they want.”
                                                                                       The VP of Sales says, “I can sell anything.”
                                                                                       The VP of Marketing says, “We just have to
                                                                                       establish a brand.” The VP of Finance says,
                                                                                       “We have to control spending.”

                                                                                       The focus goes from technology to revenue
                                                                                       to branding to cost-containment, over
                                                                                       and over again.


                                                                                   This story is all too familiar to those watching the
                                                                                   technology industry. And we’re seeing it in biotech
                                                                                   and life sciences, too. What the president needs
                                                                                   is someone to be in the market, on his behalf,
                                                                                   just as he used to be.

                                                                                   What’s missing from this cycle is the voice of the
                                                                                   market: your current and potential customers.

                            The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   6
Who Needs Product Management?




                           Stop listening to each other. Listen                       to the market.
                           The way to break the cycle of dysfunction is to              This is the essence of being market-driven—being
                           stop listening to each other and start listening to          driven by the needs of the market rather than the
                           the market. Listening to the market means first              capabilities of the company. Being market-driven
                           observing problems and then solving them. In                 means identifying what dishes to serve based
                           other words, a company must be market-driven.                on what patrons want to eat rather than what
                                                                                        foodstuffs are in the pantry. A market-driven
                           I’m convinced that developers, engineers, and                company defines itself by the customers it
                           executives want to be market-driven. They just               wishes to serve rather than the capabilities it
                           don’t want to be driven by marketing departments.            wishes to sell.
                           There’s a big difference between listening to the
                           market and listening to the marketing department.            Because the term “marketing” is so often equated
                           After all, marketing people don’t buy our product.           with “marketing communications,” let’s refer to this
                           Nor do many of them understand the product,                  market-driven role as product management.
                           causing some marketing people to get the respect
                           they deserve—which is none.                                  Instead of talking about the company and
                                                                                        its products, the successful product manager
                           Companies that are not market-driven believe                 talks about customers and their problems. A
                           the role of Marketing is to create the need for              product manager is the voice of the market
                           their products. You can see this in their behavior.          full of customers.
                           Marketing is where t-shirts and coffee mugs come
                           from. Marketing is the department that runs                  You need product management if you want
                           advertising. Marketing is the department that                low-risk, repeatable, market-driven products
                           generates leads. Most of all, Marketing supports             and services. It is vastly easier to identify
                           the sales effort. But mature companies realize the           market problems and solve them with
                           aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.             technology than it is to find buyers for
                           Marketing defines products based on what the                 your existing technology.
                           market wants to buy.




                            The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   7
Who Needs Product Management?


                           To those who have seen the impact of strong                  Product Management communicates the market
                           product management on an organization, asking                opportunity to the executive team with business
                           “Who needs product management?” is like                      rationale for pursuing the opportunity including
                           asking “Who needs profit?” A company president               financial forecasts and risk assessment. Product
                           explained it this way, “Product Management is                Management communicates the problem to
                           my trick to a turnaround. If I can get Product               Development in the form of market requirements.
                           Management focused on identifying market                     Product Management communicates to Marketing
                           problems and representing the customers to the               Communications using positioning documents,
                           company, then the company can be saved.”                     one for each type of buyer. Product Management
                                                                                        empowers the sales effort by defining a sales
                           Product Management identifies a market problem,              process, supported by the requisite sales
                           quantifies the opportunity to make sure it’s big             tools so the customer can choose the right
                           enough to generate profit, and then articulates              products and options.
                           the problem to the rest of the organization.
                                                                                        If you don’t want to be market-driven, you don’t
                                                                                        need product management. Some companies
                                                                                        will continue to believe customers don’t know
                                                                                        their problems. Some companies believe they
                                                                                        have a role in furthering the science and building
                                                                                        the “next great thing.” These companies don’t
                                                                                        need product management—they need project
                                                                                        management, someone to manage the budgets
                                                                                        and schedules. But these companies also need
                                                                                        to reexamine their objectives. Don’t expect
                                                                                        short-term revenues if your company is focused
                                                                                        on long-term research—the “R” in Research and
                                                                                        Development. Product management can guide you
                                                                                        in the “D” in R&D—the development of technology
                                                                                        into problem-solving products.




                            The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   8
What is Marketing Anyway?



                                         “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
                                                                                                                            — David Packard



                                                       Recently, a Director of Marketing
                                                       asked me to talk with her management.
                                                       She told me her executives “just don’t
                                                       get marketing.” Then she started
                                                       reminding me about the importance of
                                                       awareness and “buzz” and exposures…
                                                       and I realized that I agreed with
                                                       her management: she doesn’t “get”
                                                       marketing either. She wasn’t talking
                                                       about marketing; she was talking
                                                       about promotion.




            “There will always, one can assume, be need for some selling.
                  But the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.
           The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer
               so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
                                                                         — Peter Drucker




                            The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   9
What is Marketing Anyway?


                            Promotion isn’t Marketing
                            The real problem facing technology companies                 I attend many marketing conferences and invariably
                            (and e-commerce and life sciences, okay, well                find that I’m the only one in attendance who
                            almost everybody) is that they’re not doing                  seems to be talking about creating products;
                            marketing; they’re only doing promotion.                     everyone else is talking about promotion. At one
                                                                                         such marketing conference, an attendee in the
                            I’m not saying that promotion is a waste of                  front row asked every single speaker, “How does
                            time or money or talent. Indeed, I have worked               what you’ve talked about generate awareness and
                            with many fine promotional professionals.                    leads?” He didn’t know what to ask me because I
                            But, promotion isn’t marketing; promotion is                 hadn’t once used any of the marketing keywords:
                            marketing communications.                                    awareness, leads, campaigns, programs, spin, or
                                                                                         buzz. Apparently to him I was a product guy and
                            Peter Drucker makes it clear marketing isn’t
                                                                                         not a marketing guy. But promotion isn’t marketing.
                            a product promotion strategy; it’s a product
                            definition strategy, that “marketing” is creating
                            a product that sells itself, creating a product
                            people want to buy; creating an environment
                            that encourages people to buy.

                            Over the years however, industries and agencies
                            and marketing experts have worn away the
                            original meaning of marketing and cheapened it.
                            Marketing now means many things to many people
                            but apparently not what Drucker meant. For most
                            people nowadays, marketing means t-shirts, coffee
                            mugs, trinkets, tradeshow trash, and tchotchkes.




                             The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   10
What is Marketing Anyway?


                            Sales isn’t Marketing
                            Many people equate marketing with sales. And                 There are only two ways to use salespeople in
                            many salespeople do, too. Some salespeople are so            a company: there’s selling and there’s “not their
                            embarrassed by their profession that they’ve taken           job.” When we ask salespeople for guidance on
                            a new title: marketing rep. Look at the number               events or product features, we’re asking them to
                            of business cards that do not reference sales but            stop selling and start focusing on “not their job.”
                            some other moniker instead. Do you get paid a                Assessing marketing programs or product feature
                            commission on your personal sales of a product?              sets or proposed services or pricing are all “not
                            If yes, then you’re a sales rep.                             selling” and therefore “not their job.” We invite
                                                                                         salespeople to help us because they know more
                            Many believe that salespeople are the best                   about the market than the people at corporate.
                            source for product ideas. After all, they’re talking         But the VP of Sales does not pay salespeople to
                            to customers all the time! But talking is the key            be strategic. She pays them to sell the product. If
                            word. They are talking to the customer about                 salespeople want to be involved in these activities,
                            the existing products, not listening for what                they should transfer to Product Management;
                            products they should build next. Yes, salespeople            I’m sure there’ll be an opening soon.
                            are a valuable source of product information but
                            not the only source.                                         In the classic 4P’s (product, promotion, price, place),
                                                                                         salespeople are the last P, not the first. We want
                                                                                         them to be thinking weeks ahead, not years ahead.
                                                                                         We want them selling what is on the price list now,
                                                                                         not planning what we ought to have. Selling isn’t
                                                                                         marketing; it’s selling!

                                                                                         Instead, we should rely on Product Management to
                                                                                         focus on next year and the year after, to be thinking
                                                                                         many moves ahead in the roadmap instead of only
                                                                                         on the current release. Product managers must be
                                                                                         thought-leaders in their marketplace.




                             The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   11
What is Marketing Anyway?


                            PR and advertising aren’t Marketing
                            In the old days, public relations and advertising            Marketing has come to mean communicating
                            were the biggest parts of a marketing budget. Back           our message. But who is defining and delivering
                            then, these two promotional techniques (buying               the basis of our message? That is, who is defining
                            your way in with advertising or begging your                 the product? Marketing communications is
                            way in through media gatekeepers) were pretty                about promoting our message; it’s about how to
                            much the only way to reach customers, so PR and              communicate. Where is what to communicate?
                            advertising became synonymous with marketing.
                            But PR and advertising are promotion techniques.             Marketing is knowing what to build and for whom
                            They are two ways—and fairly ineffective ones at             by understanding your buyers and creating
                            that—to communicate the message to the market.               great content they want to consume, branding
                                                                                         your company as the expert—and frankly,
                            John Wanamaker, considered the father of modern              the rest is easy.
                            advertising, quipped, “Half the money I spend
                            on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is, I
                            don’t know which half.” Is marketing the same as
                            advertising? Marketing directors and ad agencies
                            apparently think so. So do PR firms. Advertising
                            and PR are the old way of marketing. They’re still
                            trying to get your message into publications
                            no one reads.



                            In The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott says that old-style marketing firms buy
                            exposure with advertising or beg for exposure with public relations. Now these same firms are trying
                            to make sense of the new media—video, webinars, podcasts—but with the old mindset. For them,
                            marketing is media, not message.




                             The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   12
What is Marketing Anyway?


                             The marketing mix isn’t Marketing

                             Remember Father Guido Sarducci from the early years
                             of Saturday Night Live? He offered a Five Minute College
                             that taught everything that the typical college graduate
                             remembers ten years after leaving college. For instance,

                             Economics? “Supply and demand.” That’s it. Business is,
                             “you buy something, and you sell it for more.”

                             In my meetings with executives, I ask, “What is marketing?”
                             and I usually get a Father Guido Sarducci answer: “It’s the
                             4Ps.” But then, the executives can’t remember any of the
                             Ps so they start calling out any words that start with
                             the letter “P.”

                             What we learned about marketing in college doesn’t seem
                             to apply any longer. We learned the 4P’s or the marketing
                             mix. Over the years, people added more and more words
                             that start with the letter P to the marketing mix. Pricing.
                             Positioning. People. Personas. PowerPoint. Prayer.




                            g!
                                                                                      PowerPoint!


            ric in                    PEOPLE!
                                                                                                                               P r ay
                                                                                                                                         er!
        P                                                              Positioning!


                                 The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   13
What is Marketing Anyway?


                            What’s missing is the problem
                            Problem                                                      But when was the last time he was in the
                                                                                         customer’s chair? When did he last write some
                            The first and most important consideration for any           code? Balance indexes in a database? Backup a
                            business is the market problem. It’s the problem             file? What does the president know about the real
                            that drives the product decisions, the message for           world anymore? And his new hobby is cropping up
                            positioning, and the key elements of selling—the             at work, too. Now that he’s sailing his boat or flying
                            placement strategy. Having identified the problem,           his plane, he wants to include nautical or aviation
                            the other Ps of the marketing mix become obvious.            metaphors into the products and promotions.

                            Product                                                      Engineers tend to be perennial inventors. They’ve
                                                                                         always got a great idea of a new feature, a new
                            The product we build should address a well-
                                                                                         product, or a new technology. And it’s natural.
                            understood market problem. What did Drucker
                            say? “The aim of marketing is to know and                    In an IEEE paper, Albert Ehrenfried declared, “Too
                            understand the customer so well that the product             many products are developed to satisfy the desires,
                            or service fits him and sells itself.” That is, the          urges, and hunches of people within the company,
                            product should come from a deep understanding                rather than to meet the specific needs of the
                            of the market of customers.                                  market external to the company. Products grow out
                                                                                         of the desire to tinker, or because an engineer sees
                            Your company founder understood this, perhaps
                                                                                         a purely technical challenge.”*
                            inadvertently. That is, he created a solution to a
                            problem he encountered in his daily life. He built           Sound familiar? Ehrenfried wrote this paper in
                            a product he felt sure others would value. And               1955—over fifty years ago. I guess the technology
                            apparently he was right, as your company was a               world hasn’t changed very much after all. Yet one
                            success. But the problem was the second product              CTO said to me, “Steve, you just don’t understand
                            wasn’t quite as good as the first and the third              innovation. We’re solving problems that people
                            was a complete disaster. What happened to the                don’t even have.”
                            president’s innate understanding of the market?
                            Well, he left the market; he became a president.             Umm. How’s that working for you?
                            For the last few years, he’s been more focused on
                            hiring and firing and financing and cash flow and
                            compliance and signage and all the other things              * Source: Albert D. Ehrenfried, “Market Development—the Neglected
                                                                                           Companion of Product Development,” IEEE Western Electronic Show
                            that fill a president’s day.                                   and Convention (WESCON) (San Francisco: August 24-26, 1955).




                             The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy       14
What is Marketing Anyway?


                                The best engineers and developers are problem-               from your current employer’s e-mail account.
                                solvers. If we start the marketing mix with the              Hotmail gave you free, private e-mail… and each
                                market problem, inventors can—and will—focus                 message you sent to your friends came with your
                                on solving real problems.                                    implicit endorsement. Nobody had to generate
                                                                                             “buzz” for it; Hotmail became an overnight success
                                With a problem-solving product in hand, the                  because it solved a problem and had the necessary
                                promotion becomes interesting... and fun. Just               promotion built right into each message. Did
                                go ask people if they have the problem, explain              they have to create the need? Nope. They didn’t
                                how you solve it, and show them you are the                  promote the product at all; they just gave it to a
                                best company to do so. It’s that easy.                       few hundred customers who told two friends who
                                Promotion                                                    told two friends, and so on and so on…

                                A hallmark of great marketing is thought                     When Google’s Gmail became available, I was
                                leadership. Smart companies communicate with                 fairly unimpressed. Ugh, yet another mail program.
                                their marketplace not by talking incessantly about           And I knew I wouldn’t like a mail program that
                                how great their products and services are, but               didn’t have folders! Or so I thought. Once I had
                                instead create useful content that shows people              a few hundred messages, I realized folders are
                                they understand the issues and problems facing               irrelevant if you can search quickly. I don’t need
                                buyers. This thought leadership-based content                folders in Gmail because Google can actually find
                                can take many offline forms such as speaking                 messages—faster than I can file them into folders.
                                engagements, byline articles and appearances on              The reason we need folders in Microsoft Outlook is
                                radio and TV. On the web, thought leadership could           that you can’t find anything using the search tools
                                be an e-book (like this one), a well written blog            provided by Microsoft (happily, you can use Google
                                or a YouTube video.                                          Desktop Search to find the Outlook messages that
                                                                                             Microsoft can’t find).
                                Do you remember the introduction of Hotmail?
                                There was a problem in the industry: it was hard             Build a product people want to buy, and show
                                to access your personal e-mail account from                  you’re on top of their problems, and they’ll dig it.
                                within the company firewall and besides, company             The new rules of marketing are basically the same
                                e-mail wasn’t really confidential so you couldn’t            as the old rules of marketing: have something to
                                easily send your resume to a potential employer              talk about and people will listen.



               Just go ask people if they have the problem...
               and then show how you solve it. It’s that easy.


                                 The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   15
What is Marketing Anyway?


                            Place                                                        I don’t truly blame the sales guys—they do what
                                                                                         they do. However, I do blame sales management.
                            Have you ever been in Sales? It’s hard to live with          The VP of Sales (or if not the VP, then the CEO)
                            your house payment on the line every month. It’s             should reject deals that are not in the segment.
                            particularly hard when you don’t really believe
                            that your product has value.                                 The real problem is this: the company engaged a
                                                                                         sales group before they had clarity on the problem
                            Incredibly, many salespeople don’t believe that
                                                                                         they were solving, before they had a complete
                            their product has any value to the client. How
                                                                                         product, and before they had the promotions in
                            sad is that?
                                                                                         place to support a repeatable sales process. They
                            The really sad part is many technology products              built an incomplete product and hired salespeople
                            don’t actually have value. They solve problems               to push it. They hoped the sales team could
                            that people don’t have. Or they solve the problem            generate short-term revenues without interfering
                            incompletely. So I guess I understand why                    with long-term viability and they lost.
                            salespeople feel they have to sell product futures
                            and make promises that the product can’t keep.               Hope is not a strategy!

                            But we can place some of the blame for our                   The truth is we shouldn’t engage a sales team until
                            product failures on salespeople themselves. Maybe            we have a repeatable sales process for all the buyer
                            if they didn’t distract the company with “deal of            personas in a well-defined market segment. Place
                            the day,” the developers could actually finish 100%          is the fourth P, not the first.
                            of the functionality needed by a specific market
                            segment. Yet even if the company has indeed
                            created the ideal product set for a well-defined
                            market segment, the sales team often sells the
                            product into another segment. After all, for some in
                            sales, anyone who calls back is a qualified prospect.




                             The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   16
What is Marketing Anyway?


                                 Summarizing, product management is a game                    Companies fail when employing market without
                                 of the future. Product managers who know the                 marketing, when worrying more about promotion
                                 market, identify and quantify problems in a market           than problem, when focusing more on selling than
                                 segment. They assess the risk and financials so the          solving. That is, failure is likely when delivering
                                 company can run as a business. They communicate              products without market knowledge.
                                 this knowledge to the departments in the company
                                 that need the information, allowing products and             We should rely on product management to focus
                                 services to be built which solve a known problem             on next year and the year after. To be thinking
                                 and expand the customer base profitability. And              many moves ahead in the roadmap instead of
                                 they show their expertise to the outside world by            only on the current release.
                                 engaging the market with smart ideas.




            Companies fail when employing market without marketing,
                   when worrying more about promotion than problem,
           when focusing more on selling than solving. That is, failure is
            likely when delivering products without market knowledge.




                                  The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   17
Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization?

                                       Many CEOs realize product management                          Traditional consumer product companies have
                                       brings process and business savvy to the                      always considered product management to be
                                       creation and delivery of products. Perhaps                    a marketing role, which is why it seems to make
                                       that’s why we’ve seen a shift over the                        sense to put product management there. And it
                                       years of where product managers report                        does make sense—if the marketing department
Product Managers                       in the organization. Many organizations                       is defining and delivering products and not just
report to:                             put the job within another department.                        promoting them. Alas, as we explored earlier,
                                       In Pragmatic Marketing’s Annual Survey:                       many technology companies consider the term
                                                                                                     “marketing” to be synonymous with “marketing
                                              •	 36% are in Product Management                       communications.” So if the Marketing department
                                                                                                     is only about delivering products but not defining
                                              •	 21% are in Marketing
         Vice                                                                                        them, product managers should be elsewhere.
                         Director
      President                               •	 12% are in Development or Engineering
         33%               39%                                                                       For technology companies, particularly those
                                              •	 6% are in Sales                                     with enterprise or B2B products, the product
                                                                                                     management job is very technical. This is why
                                                                                                     we see many product managers reporting to
                   CEO
                                                                                                     Development or Engineering. However, we’ve seen
                   COO                                                                               a shift away from this in recent years, from 19% in
                   8%                                                                                2001 to 12% in 2008. The problem appears to be
                                                                                                     that technical product managers spend so much
                                       Reporting Department for Product Managers                     time writing requirements that they don’t have
                                                                                                     time to visit the market to better understand
                                                                                                     the problems their products are designed to
                               Sales
                                                                                                     solve. They spend so much time building
                                                                                                     products that they’re not equipped to help
                         Development
                                                                                                     deliver them to the market.

                           Marketing

                             Product
                         Management


                                       0%      10%    20%      30%      40%   50%      60%

                                            2008
                                            2001


                                        The Strategic Role of Product Management    How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   18
Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization?


                                    Very few product managers find themselves in a               In Management Challenges for the 21st Century,
                                    Sales (or Sales & Marketing) department. From 10%            Peter Drucker tells us that organization charts
                                    in 2001, the percentage of product managers in               really don’t fix problems; process and personnel
                                    Sales has slipped to 6% in 2008. It seems clear that         problems are never solved by a re-org. The truth
                                    product managers in Sales will spend all of their            is, it doesn’t matter where product management
                                    time supporting sales people with demos and                  reports. What matters is how the head of the
                                    presentations. The product manager becomes                   organization holds product management
                                    the sales engineer.                                          accountable. In other words, what does “success”
                                                                                                 look like for a product manager?
                                    In effect, subordinating product management
                                    relegates it to a support role for the primary               As companies grow larger and become more
                                    goal of the department. Vice Presidents and                  mature, the company president needs someone
                                    department heads have a natural inclination to               thinking about the products we ought to be
                                    support their primary department’s role. The VP of           offering and new markets we could serve. In
                                    Development, primarily responsible for delivering            other words, the company needs someone
                                    products, tends to use product managers as                   thinking about the future of the product.
                                    project managers and Development gofers. The                 We already have people focused on product,
                                    VP of Marketing owns collateral, sales tools, lead           promotion, and place. Who—if anyone—is
                                    generation, and awareness programs. So this VP               identifying market problems for the next round
                                    often uses product managers as content providers             of products? Who is the VP of Market Problems?
                                    to Marketing Communications. And the VP of                   And what result does the company president
                   Marketing        Sales, focused on new sales revenue, uses product            want from Product Management?
                 Communications
                                    managers to achieve that goal; product managers
                                    become “demo boys and demo girls” who support
                                    sales people one deal at a time.



                    Product
                  Management

   Development                    Sales




                                     The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   19
Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization?


                                 Increasingly we see companies creating a                     marketing communications effort, supporting
                                 VP of Product Management, a department at                    them with market information and product
                                 the same level in the company as the other                   content. As we grow ever larger, the product
                                 major departments. This VP focuses the product               marketing role expands further: we still need a
                                 management group on the business of the                      group defining our go-to-market strategy and
                                 product. The product management group                        providing content to Marketing Communications,
                                 interviews existing and potential customers,                 but now we also need more marketing assistance
                                 articulates and quantifies market problems in the            in the field. So field marketing is born: product
                                 business case and market requirements, defines               marketing people in the sales regions who create
                                 standard procedures for product delivery and                 specific programs for all of the sales people in
                                 launch, supports the creation of collateral and sales        a given geographic area.
                                 tools by Marketing Communications, and trains the
                                 sales teams on the market and product. Product               In summary, product management needs to
                                 Management looks at the needs of the entire                  focus on market problems. Subordinating the
                                 business and the entire market.                              role to other departments usually forces product
                                                                                              management to support the primary needs of
                                 Recognizing that existing and future products                that department, to the detriment of spending
                                 need different levels of attention, some companies           time looking forward beyond the next cycle of
                                 split the product management job into smaller bits:          activity. In a Product Management department
                                 one group is responsible for next year’s products            focus can remain on market problems and
                                 while another group provides sales and marketing             future opportunities.
                                 support for existing products. These companies
                                 often add a product marketing component to the




      We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a
     wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress.

                                                       —Petronius Arbiter, 210 B.C.




                                  The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   20
The Product Management Triad

                                Some product managers have a natural affinity for working with Development, others for Sales
                                and Marketing Communications, and others prefer to work on business issues. Finding these three
                                orientations in one person is an almost impossible task. Instead, perhaps we should find three different
                                people with these skills and have them work as a team.



                                The Pragmatic Marketing Framework™
                                Roles and responsibilities defined

                                Director,                      Business                      Marketing
                                                                             Positioning
                                Product Strategy                Case                           Plan

                                  Distinctive      Market                      Sales          Customer
                                                                Pricing
                                 Competence        Sizing                     Process        Acquisition

                                   Market          Product     Buy, Build      Market        Customer
                                  Research       Performance   or Partner   Requirements     Retention


                                   Market        Operational   Product         Product        Launch
                    STRATEGIC




                                  Problems        Metrics      Portfolio      Roadmap          Plan




                                                                                                                                             TACTICAL
                                  Market        Quantitative   Product       Product         Program          Sales           Channel
                                  Analysis       Analysis      Strategy      Planning        Strategy       Readiness         Support

                                 Technology       Win/Loss                      User           Buyer           Channel       Presentations
                                                               Innovation
                                 Assessment       Analysis                    Personas        Personas         Training        & Demos

                                 Competitive                                   Use            Success        Collateral &      quot;Specialquot;
                                  Analysis                                   Scenarios        Stories        Sales Tools         Calls

                                                                              Release         Thought          White            Event
                                Technical                                    Milestones       Leaders          Papers          Support
                                Product
                                Manager                                                        Lead          Competitive       Answer
                                                                                             Generation       Write-Up          Desk

                                                                                           Product Marketing Manager




                                                                                           © 1993-2008 Pragmatic Marketing, Inc.


                                The Strategic Role of Product Management    How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   21
The Product Management Triad



                               Start with a business-oriented senior product                To work as a team, they must be a team. Having
                               manager for product strategy. Make this person a             the TPM and PMM report to the same person
                               Product Line Manager (PLM) or Director of Product            minimizes conflict and overlap, giving the team
                               Strategy (DPS). Now add a development-oriented               a common objective. And gives a new Director
                               Technical Product Manager (TPM) and a sales-                 the chance to learn to be a good manager
                               oriented Product Marketing Manager (PMM). The                of two people before getting five or ten
                               latter two positions report to the Director or PLM.          people to manage.

                               One company had nine product managers and                    Consider also a “product line” for your base
                               nine products, one product manager per product.              technology or architecture with a focus on issues
                               The sales people hated some of the product                   that span product lines. The architecture triad can
                               managers and loved others. The ones the sales                own acquisitions, third-party partnerships, and
                               people loved were hated by developers. So three              common tools needed across all product lines.
                               product lines were created with a Product Line
                               Manager for each, and then a Technical Product               Does this model make sense for you? First take
                               Manager and Product Marketing Manager was                    inventory of the skills of each of the product
                               assigned to each product line.                               managers. Create an organization chart of one triad
                                                                                            per product line with no names assigned. Now try
                               Now for each product line, one person                        to move the business-oriented staff (usually your
                               concentrates on product strategy and the business            senior product managers) to the PLM positions,
                               of the product line, while another works with                development-oriented product managers to
                               development to build the best product, and                   TPM and sales-oriented ones to PMM. Whatever
                               another takes the product message to the channel             holes remain in your org chart represent your
                               by working with marketing communications and                 new hiring profiles.
                               the sales force.
                                                                                            Product Management teams provide career paths
                               Some companies attempt to put these three                    from entry-level positions to Director, all within the
                               people in three different departments. They put              product line. On the following pages are some job
                               the PLM into Sales to do business development;               descriptions to consider.
                               they put the TPM in Development and the PMM
                               in Marketing Communications. This always fails.




                                The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   22
The Product Management Triad


                                       Director, Product Strategy
                                       The Director of Product Strategy               Duties include:
                                       (DPS) or Product Line Manager (PLM)
                                       has a business-orientation and is              •	 Seeking new market opportunities within the
                                       responsible for the development                   company’s distinctive competence
                                       and implementation of the strategic            •	 Initiating market research and sizing markets
                                       plan for a specific product family.
                                       Maintains close relationship with the          •	 Documenting market problems (both existing
                                       market (customers, evaluators, and                customers and future customers)
                                       potentials) for awareness of market            •	 Analyzing product performance and sales success
                                       needs and perspectives. This includes
                                       identification of appropriate markets          •	 Documenting product profitability and
                                       and development of effective                      operational metrics
                                       marketing strategies and tactics. This         •	 Creating and maintaining the business case
                                       person is involved through all stages
                                       of a product family’s lifecycle.               •	 Product pricing
                                                                                      •	 Determining buy/build/partner decisions
                                                                                      •	 Serve as the solution expert when dealing with
                                                                                         thought leaders, analysts, and press
                                                                                      •	 Positioning the product for all markets
                                                                                         and all buyers
                                                                                      •	 Documenting the ideal sales process
                                                                                      •	 Providing high-level market and cross-product
                                                                                         requirements
                                                                                      •	 Maintaining the product family roadmap
                                                                                      •	 Approving final marketing and go-to-market plans




                               The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   23
The Product Management Triad


                                  Technical Product Manager
                                  The Technical Product Manager                          The TPM is responsible for:
                                  (TPM) is responsible for defining
                                  market requirements and packaging                      •	 Technology assessment
                                  the features into product releases.
                                  The position involves close                            •	 Competitive analysis
                                  interaction with development
                                                                                         •	 Win/loss analysis
                                  leads, product architects, and key
                                  customers. A strong technical                          •	 Monitoring industry innovations
                                  background is required. Job duties
                                  include gathering requirements from                    •	 Defining user personas for individual products
                                  prospects, evaluators and customers,
                                  writing market requirements, and                       •	 Creating and managing the product contract
                                  monitoring the implementation                             with development teams
                                  of a product project.
                                                                                         •	 Writing business requirements

                                                                                         •	 Monitoring the implementation
                                                                                            of the product projects




                               The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   24
The Product Management Triad


                                        Product Marketing Manager
                                        The Product Marketing Manager                         The PMM owns:
                                        (PMM) provides product line support
                                        for program strategy, sales readiness                 •	 Defining buyer personas and
                                        and channel support. This position                       determining market messages
                                        requires close interaction with
                                        Marketing Communications and Sales                    •	 Maintaining product launch plans
                                        Management. Strong communication
                                                                                              •	 Identifying best opportunities for
                                        skills are a must. Duties include
                                                                                                 lead generation
                                        converting positioning into key market
                                        messages and launching the products                   •	 Creating standard presentations
                                        into market.                                             and demo scripts

                                                                                              •	 Writing white papers and technical
                                                                                                 communiqués

                                                                                              •	 Documenting competitive threats
                                                                                                 and related industry news

                                                                                              •	 Facilitating direct sales and
                                                                                                 channel training

                                                                                              •	 Supporting trade shows and other
                                                                                                 company-sponsored events

                                                                                              •	 Limited onsite channel support
                                                                                                 and phone assistance




                               The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   25
Roles and Titles

   I am frequently asked who owns what in an                                             Product Management vs. Product Marketing Activities
   organization with Product Management, Product                                                     Results from Pragmatic Marketing’s Annual Survey
   Marketing and Marketing Communications.
                                                                                                                           0%             20%     40%              60%        80%   100%
   A typical e-mail reads:
                                                                                     Monitoring development projects
      I am wondering how you have defined
                                                                                          Writing product requirements
      product manager and product marketing
      manager in your annual survey? One of our                                          Writing detailed specifications
      employees picked up your survey with the
      goal of identifying the delta between her                               Creating sales presentations and demos
      compensation and market rates. I’ve gone
                                                                                               Preparing business case
      back to look at the data on salary.com and
      found that her job definition matches better                                          Researching market needs
      to product / brand manager than product
      marketing manager. She is more involved                                                      Going on sales calls
      with outbound marketing as it pertains to
      field support rather than inbound marketing              Creating material for internal audiences (intranet/wiki)
      as it pertains to product definition. Can you
                                                                         Planning and managing marketing programs
      give me insight into the survey definitions?
                                                                                                  Training sales people
   Titles really are a mess in our business. What one
   company calls a product manager, another calls a         Creating material for external audiences (blog/newsletter)
   product marketing manager. Technology businesses
   have generally ignored the standard terms used in                              Visiting sites (without sales people)
   other industries. In our Annual Product Management
   and Marketing survey, we ask people’s titles and                              Writing copy for promotional material
   reported incomes based on the titles without
                                                                                        Working with press or analysts
   defining what we think they are. We also ask them
   to report responsibilities.                                                         Measuring marketing programs

   The survey results show product managers are                                          Performing win/loss analysis
   more inclined to research the market and write
   requirements while product marketers typically                                      Approving promotional material
   plan go-to-market strategy and write collateral.
                                                                                                                                Product Manager   Product Marketing Manager


                                           The Strategic Role of Product Management              How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy            26
Roles and Titles


                                           Typically the title “product manager” is used to signify people
                                           who listen to the market and articulate the market problems
                                           in the form of requirements. And the title “product marketing
                                           manager” is usually assigned to those who take the resulting
                                           product to the market by defining a product marketing strategy.
                                           (I use the product manager title for both of these). Yet clearly, this
                                           delineation is not consistently applied. Product managers and
                                           product marketing managers are both equally involved in writing
                                           business cases and researching market needs.

                                           In Crossing the Chasm, Geoff Moore defines (and recommends)
                                           two separate positions:
        “A product manager is a member of either the marketing                         “A product marketing manager is always a member
        organization or the development organization who is responsible                of the marketing organization, never of the development group,
        for ensuring that a product gets created, tested, and shipped on               and is responsible for bringing the product to the marketplace
        schedule and meets specifications. It is a highly internally focused           and to the distribution organization… it is a highly externally
        job, bridging the marketing and development organizations, and                 focused job.”
        requiring a high degree of technical competence and project
        management experience.”


                         A product manager (PM)                                                  A product marketing manager (PMM)
                           listens to the market                                                         talks to the market

                                           Moore goes on to say, “Not all organizations separate [the two
                                           positions], but they should... the type of people who are good
                                           at one are rarely good at the other.”

                                           But titles are meaningless; actions are meaningful. Pragmatic
                                           Marketing seminars introduce the activities often associated with
                                           product management and product marketing. Some of these
                                           activities are intimately linked. In particular, distinctive competence
                                           and market problems drive both requirements and positioning.
                                           Virtually all other product-related activities stem from these two.



                                            The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   27
Roles and Titles


                                Requirements are written by those who understand             technical details. User buyers need information
                                the market. Market Requirements are comprised of             about how the product will improve their daily
                                the problems that are in the market. Notice the              lives. Economic buyers want to know how the
                                language: there are no marketing requirements;               product will improve the bottom-line. Recently
                                only market requirements. The market-driven                  a development executive said to me, “All of our
                                product manager spends time out of the building              collateral should be written as if I was the reader.”
                                gathering requirements rather than sitting in a              But does this executive represent the buyers?
                                cubicle imagining what the market will buy. By               Doubtful. Instead, collateral must be written in
                                calling on various segments of the market, Product           the language of the reader (the buyers) not for
                                Management can articulate exactly the right                  employees of your company.
                                product features to create a product that will sell.
                                                                                             Product Management is the messenger of the
                                Market requirements and positioning should be                market. Product Marketing and Marketing
                                written by those who understand the market. Yet in           Communications should be involved in creating
                                a recent survey, many marketing communications               market messages but the market-savvy product
                                people claimed responsibility for positioning,               manager should have final authority over
                                although none reported having any direct                     the positioning.
                                customer experience. Who best to write these
                                than the product managers who have gathered                  Market requirements and positioning are owned
                                requirements? Positioning defines the features in            by the person who best knows the market. Who is
                                terms the buyer will understand, using language              this in your company?
                                the buyer would use. Technical buyers need




              Product Management is the messenger of the market.




                                 The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   28
Product Management in an Agile World

                      Just as new technologies are changing the
                      rules for product promotion, so it is for product
                      development. Agile development methods are                            What is agile?
                      sweeping into the vendor world. With emphasis
                      on quick iterations and brevity in artifacts, the                     The Agile Manifesto* reads:
                      new approach to planning is a breath of fresh air.
                                                                                            We are uncovering better ways of
                      There are some who say that Product                                   developing software by doing it
                      Management is the enemy of agile; that product                        and helping others do it. Through
                      managers will try to impose structure, that                           this work we have come to value:
                      Product Management will require detail where
                      none is necessary. Fundamentally, some say that                       •	 Individuals and interactions
                      Product Management stands for everything                                 over processes and tools
                      that agile is not. How can Product Management
                                                                                            •	 Working software over
                      contribute to agile?
                                                                                               comprehensive documentation

                                                                                            •	 Customer collaboration over
                                                                                               contract negotiation

                                                                                            •	 Responding to change over
                                                                                               following a plan

                                                                                            That is, while there is value in the
                                                                                            items on the right, we value the
                                                                                            items on the left more.




                                                                                                        * agilemanifesto.org




                       The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   29
Product Management in an Agile World


                                 People and results are good; process is merely               Why agile?
                                 a means to an end. Definitely! Who could
                                 disagree with this?                                          I fear agile development isn’t so much a new
                                                                                              approach to programming as it is a response
                                 And yet.                                                     to bad management. In the past, too much
                                                                                              effort was spent on documenting exactly what
                                 Process and tools are safeguards for individuals
                                                                                              would be delivered before a line of code was
                                 and interactions. Comprehensive documentation
                                                                                              actually written; too much energy was wasted
                                 is necessary to deliver and maintain working
                                                                                              getting precision on estimates long before those
                                 software. Negotiation is often how we codify
                                                                                              estimates could be considered reliable. Everyone
                                 customer expectations. A plan is a technique that
                                                                                              in development knew these methods weren’t
                                 allows us to respond to change.
                                                                                              working. But management didn’t know or care.
                                 I don’t think agile advocates want the elimination           So developers became increasingly frustrated
                                 of process, tools, and discipline. Instead, these            with the planning process. Management enforced
                                 activities should support individuals, interactions,         dates no one believed; management required
                                 and the delivery of working software.                        detailed documentation and schedules long before
                                                                                              the details were known. No wonder developers
                                                                                              were frustrated.

                                                                                              Long ago the world used to be agile. A customer
                                                                                              would ask for a report and we’d show up with
                                                                                              132 character-wide grid paper to design the report.
                                                                                              “Company name? Okay, 40 characters plus a space
                                                                                              is 41. Invoice date? 6 characters plus 1 space.
                                                                                              What else?”




    Finance people and sales people and marketing people are making
  scheduling decisions for development projects they don’t understand
         with inadequate information. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.




                                  The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   30
Product Management in an Agile World


                              Then Development became a key part of business.              Management mandates rigor and precision before
                              And the head of development wanted to know                   the scope of the work is truly understood. “How
                              how long you’d be working in Accounting because              long would it take you to build something?” Well,
                              the manufacturing project needed your skills                 depends on what something is, doesn’t it? “Yes
                              too. And customers wanted to know how much                   but give me a date anyway.” Management over-
                              the report would cost before they committed to               commits development all the time.
                              cross-department billing. And then HR wanted to
                              know how many actual hours were spent in each                Developers often see the product managers as
                              area for internal billing of your time. These are all        senior management’s police force. And to be
                              legitimate requests, aren’t they?                            honest, this is somewhat legitimate. Haven’t many
                                                                                           product managers imposed dates on projects they
                              Working as a developer in a business involves                don’t truly understand? Haven’t many product
                              working as a business—which means resourcing                 managers enforced process and documentation
                              and scheduling highly skilled workers.                       beyond what is necessary?

                              Maybe the big problem agile is trying to address             So finance people and sales people and marketing
                              is not so much that management is bad; it’s that             people are making scheduling decisions for
                              management is early. They want to know too                   development projects they don’t understand with
                              much too soon, long before the development                   inadequate information. Sounds like a recipe for
                              team actually knows. They ask for estimates, get             disaster. And it is. Thus, agile was born!
                              our guesses—and they are guesses—and then
                              announce delivery dates for the project.




                               The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   31
Product Management in an Agile World


                              Where does product management fit?
                              Product management is fundamentally about                    Delivering a product to a market of customers
                              delivering successful products to a market of                requires synchronizing the software, hardware,
                              customers. This requires a deep understanding                services, documentation, marketing programs,
                              of market requirements. The problem is most                  and sales tools to present a complete product
                              development methods were designed for                        to the marketplace.
                              one-off projects rather than repeatable products.
                              So where does product management fit in an                       Answer: the product manager must integrate
                              agile development environment?                                   all schedules so we can deliver and support the
                                                                                               product in the market.
                              One of the key aspects of agile programming
                              is an onsite customer. While this makes sense                In agile programming—and frankly in any
                              in a one-off environment when customer and                   programming model—the effective product
                              developer are in the same building, it’s unworkable          manager serves as representative of a market
                              in a vendor model. How do you have an onsite                 of customers.
                              customer in a vendor model?
                                                                                           Accelerating agile adoption
                                 Answer: the product manager serves as the
                                                                                           Product managers should support the ideals of
                                 customer representative in planning and
                                                                                           agile development. We want some process but
                                 requirements definition.
                                                                                           not too much. Smaller iterations give us more
                              Building a repeatable product requires feedback              flexibility in adapting to change. Less time spent
                              from many customers, not just one. So someone                documenting leaves more time for programming.
                              needs to aggregate the requirements from many                We want to assist development and the rest of the
                              sources into a single coherent set of requirements.          team in delivering a complete product to a market,
                                                                                           creating a product that people want to buy.
                                 Answer: the product manager defines the
                                 requirements and the product roadmap for
                                 a market of customers.




                               The Strategic Role of Product Management   How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy   32
Strategic Role - Product Management
Strategic Role - Product Management

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Strategic Role - Product Management

  • 1. The Strategic Role of PRODUCT MANAGEMENT How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy By Steve Johnson
  • 2. About the author Why are we Pragmatic Marketing? Steve Johnson is a recognized People sometimes ask why the company is named thought-leader on the strategic Pragmatic Marketing. “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” role of product management and they ask. marketing. Broadly published, a frequent keynote speaker and winner The “pragmatic” moniker makes sense: we offer of the Software Idol contest at the practical, no-nonsense solutions to the problems Business of Software 2007 conference, Steve has facing technology product managers. It’s the term been a Pragmatic Marketing instructor for more “marketing” that throws people. than 10 years and has personally trained thousands Technology businesses use two definitions of product managers and hundreds of company of marketing: senior executive teams on strategies for creating products people want to buy. 1) the market experts and business leaders for the product He teaches several top-rated seminars including — or — Practical Product Management, Requirements 2) the t-shirt and coffee mug department That Work, and Pragmatic Roadmapping, as well as many on-site workshops. As quoted in this e-book, Peter Drucker defines marketing as “to know and understand the Prior to joining Pragmatic Marketing, Steve customer so well that the product or service fits practiced the discipline of product management him.” We use this classical definition of marketing. for over 18 years at a variety of software and hardware firms and served as head of marketing for the leading provider of performance management software. Read more from Steve at his Product Marketing blog. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 2
  • 3. The Pragmatic Marketing Framework ™ The strategic role of product management is best defined by the Pragmatic Marketing Framework, a model for market-driven companies to build products people want to buy. © 1993-2008 Pragmatic Marketing, Inc. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 3
  • 4. As an instructor at Pragmatic 5 Who Needs Product Management? Marketing and author of the ProductMarketing.com blog, 9 What is Marketing Anyway? I am frequently asked to speak and write about the strategic 18 Where Does Product Management role of product management Belong in the Organization? in technology companies. This e-book is a concise 21 The Product Management Triad summary of why product management is probably the most important role in an 26 Roles and Titles organization. I hope it helps you and your company deliver 29 Product Management in an Agile World more successful products to market. 33 Final Thoughts. . . – Steve Johnson 34 Learn More About The Strategic Role of Management Please feel free to post this on your company’s intranet, your blog or Copyright © 2008 Pragmatic Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved. e-mail it to whomever Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License. Attribution 3.0. you believe would http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0 Other product and/or company names mentioned in this e-book may be trademarks or registered benefit from reading it. trademarks of their respective companies and are the sole property of their respective owners. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 4
  • 5. Who Needs Product Management? Product management is a well-understood A story... role in virtually every industry except technology. In the last ten years, the Your founder, a brilliant technician, started the product management role has expanded company years ago when he quit his day job to its influence in technology companies market his idea full time. He created a product yet we continue to hear the question, that he just knew other people needed. And he “Who needs product management?” was right. Pretty soon he delivered enough of the product and hired his best friend from college as The role of product management spans VP of Sales. And the company grew. many activities from strategic to tactical— some very technical, others less so. The But before long, the VP of Sales complained, strategic role of product management is “We’re an engineering-led company. We to be messenger of the market, delivering need to become customer-driven.” And information to the departments that that sounded fine. need market facts to make decisions. Except… every new contract seemed to This is why it is not surprising that 8% of require custom work. You signed a dozen product managers report directly to the clients in a dozen market segments and the CEO, acting as his or her representative latest customer’s voice always dominated at the product level.* the product plans. You concluded that Companies that do not see the value “customer-driven” meant “driven by the of product management go through latest customer” and that couldn’t be right. a series of expansions and layoffs. They hire and fire and hire and fire the product management group. These same companies are the ones that seem to have a similar roller-coaster ride in revenue and profit. However, over the years we have seen extensive evidence that product management is a role that can even out the ups-and-downs and can help push a company to the next level of performance. * Pragmatic Marketing’s Annual Survey The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 5
  • 6. Who Needs Product Management? When a board member declared, “We’ve Soon the CFO whispered to the founder, become a sales-led company. We really “Don’t you think it’s time we started need to start being marketing-driven,” controlling costs?” So the company became you hired a brand specialist away from a cost-driven and started cutting all the consumer product company to be your luxuries out of the business, like travel, VP of Marketing. As part of a re-branding technical support, bonuses, and award initiative, she designed a new corporate dinners. And Marketing! logo with a new color scheme for the web site, new collateral, and an updated trade The CFO asked, “What do those marketing show booth. Everyone got new company people do anyway?” And since no one icons on their clothing. Except… you spent had a good answer, the CFO deleted millions without any change in revenue. the marketing budget and fired all the Apparently, branding wasn’t the answer! marketing people. At this point, when Finance goes too far, the founder steps back in to focus on his roots—the technology— and the cycle begins again. The VP of Development says, “Customers don’t know what they want.” The VP of Sales says, “I can sell anything.” The VP of Marketing says, “We just have to establish a brand.” The VP of Finance says, “We have to control spending.” The focus goes from technology to revenue to branding to cost-containment, over and over again. This story is all too familiar to those watching the technology industry. And we’re seeing it in biotech and life sciences, too. What the president needs is someone to be in the market, on his behalf, just as he used to be. What’s missing from this cycle is the voice of the market: your current and potential customers. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 6
  • 7. Who Needs Product Management? Stop listening to each other. Listen to the market. The way to break the cycle of dysfunction is to This is the essence of being market-driven—being stop listening to each other and start listening to driven by the needs of the market rather than the the market. Listening to the market means first capabilities of the company. Being market-driven observing problems and then solving them. In means identifying what dishes to serve based other words, a company must be market-driven. on what patrons want to eat rather than what foodstuffs are in the pantry. A market-driven I’m convinced that developers, engineers, and company defines itself by the customers it executives want to be market-driven. They just wishes to serve rather than the capabilities it don’t want to be driven by marketing departments. wishes to sell. There’s a big difference between listening to the market and listening to the marketing department. Because the term “marketing” is so often equated After all, marketing people don’t buy our product. with “marketing communications,” let’s refer to this Nor do many of them understand the product, market-driven role as product management. causing some marketing people to get the respect they deserve—which is none. Instead of talking about the company and its products, the successful product manager Companies that are not market-driven believe talks about customers and their problems. A the role of Marketing is to create the need for product manager is the voice of the market their products. You can see this in their behavior. full of customers. Marketing is where t-shirts and coffee mugs come from. Marketing is the department that runs You need product management if you want advertising. Marketing is the department that low-risk, repeatable, market-driven products generates leads. Most of all, Marketing supports and services. It is vastly easier to identify the sales effort. But mature companies realize the market problems and solve them with aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. technology than it is to find buyers for Marketing defines products based on what the your existing technology. market wants to buy. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 7
  • 8. Who Needs Product Management? To those who have seen the impact of strong Product Management communicates the market product management on an organization, asking opportunity to the executive team with business “Who needs product management?” is like rationale for pursuing the opportunity including asking “Who needs profit?” A company president financial forecasts and risk assessment. Product explained it this way, “Product Management is Management communicates the problem to my trick to a turnaround. If I can get Product Development in the form of market requirements. Management focused on identifying market Product Management communicates to Marketing problems and representing the customers to the Communications using positioning documents, company, then the company can be saved.” one for each type of buyer. Product Management empowers the sales effort by defining a sales Product Management identifies a market problem, process, supported by the requisite sales quantifies the opportunity to make sure it’s big tools so the customer can choose the right enough to generate profit, and then articulates products and options. the problem to the rest of the organization. If you don’t want to be market-driven, you don’t need product management. Some companies will continue to believe customers don’t know their problems. Some companies believe they have a role in furthering the science and building the “next great thing.” These companies don’t need product management—they need project management, someone to manage the budgets and schedules. But these companies also need to reexamine their objectives. Don’t expect short-term revenues if your company is focused on long-term research—the “R” in Research and Development. Product management can guide you in the “D” in R&D—the development of technology into problem-solving products. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 8
  • 9. What is Marketing Anyway? “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” — David Packard Recently, a Director of Marketing asked me to talk with her management. She told me her executives “just don’t get marketing.” Then she started reminding me about the importance of awareness and “buzz” and exposures… and I realized that I agreed with her management: she doesn’t “get” marketing either. She wasn’t talking about marketing; she was talking about promotion. “There will always, one can assume, be need for some selling. But the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” — Peter Drucker The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 9
  • 10. What is Marketing Anyway? Promotion isn’t Marketing The real problem facing technology companies I attend many marketing conferences and invariably (and e-commerce and life sciences, okay, well find that I’m the only one in attendance who almost everybody) is that they’re not doing seems to be talking about creating products; marketing; they’re only doing promotion. everyone else is talking about promotion. At one such marketing conference, an attendee in the I’m not saying that promotion is a waste of front row asked every single speaker, “How does time or money or talent. Indeed, I have worked what you’ve talked about generate awareness and with many fine promotional professionals. leads?” He didn’t know what to ask me because I But, promotion isn’t marketing; promotion is hadn’t once used any of the marketing keywords: marketing communications. awareness, leads, campaigns, programs, spin, or buzz. Apparently to him I was a product guy and Peter Drucker makes it clear marketing isn’t not a marketing guy. But promotion isn’t marketing. a product promotion strategy; it’s a product definition strategy, that “marketing” is creating a product that sells itself, creating a product people want to buy; creating an environment that encourages people to buy. Over the years however, industries and agencies and marketing experts have worn away the original meaning of marketing and cheapened it. Marketing now means many things to many people but apparently not what Drucker meant. For most people nowadays, marketing means t-shirts, coffee mugs, trinkets, tradeshow trash, and tchotchkes. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 10
  • 11. What is Marketing Anyway? Sales isn’t Marketing Many people equate marketing with sales. And There are only two ways to use salespeople in many salespeople do, too. Some salespeople are so a company: there’s selling and there’s “not their embarrassed by their profession that they’ve taken job.” When we ask salespeople for guidance on a new title: marketing rep. Look at the number events or product features, we’re asking them to of business cards that do not reference sales but stop selling and start focusing on “not their job.” some other moniker instead. Do you get paid a Assessing marketing programs or product feature commission on your personal sales of a product? sets or proposed services or pricing are all “not If yes, then you’re a sales rep. selling” and therefore “not their job.” We invite salespeople to help us because they know more Many believe that salespeople are the best about the market than the people at corporate. source for product ideas. After all, they’re talking But the VP of Sales does not pay salespeople to to customers all the time! But talking is the key be strategic. She pays them to sell the product. If word. They are talking to the customer about salespeople want to be involved in these activities, the existing products, not listening for what they should transfer to Product Management; products they should build next. Yes, salespeople I’m sure there’ll be an opening soon. are a valuable source of product information but not the only source. In the classic 4P’s (product, promotion, price, place), salespeople are the last P, not the first. We want them to be thinking weeks ahead, not years ahead. We want them selling what is on the price list now, not planning what we ought to have. Selling isn’t marketing; it’s selling! Instead, we should rely on Product Management to focus on next year and the year after, to be thinking many moves ahead in the roadmap instead of only on the current release. Product managers must be thought-leaders in their marketplace. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 11
  • 12. What is Marketing Anyway? PR and advertising aren’t Marketing In the old days, public relations and advertising Marketing has come to mean communicating were the biggest parts of a marketing budget. Back our message. But who is defining and delivering then, these two promotional techniques (buying the basis of our message? That is, who is defining your way in with advertising or begging your the product? Marketing communications is way in through media gatekeepers) were pretty about promoting our message; it’s about how to much the only way to reach customers, so PR and communicate. Where is what to communicate? advertising became synonymous with marketing. But PR and advertising are promotion techniques. Marketing is knowing what to build and for whom They are two ways—and fairly ineffective ones at by understanding your buyers and creating that—to communicate the message to the market. great content they want to consume, branding your company as the expert—and frankly, John Wanamaker, considered the father of modern the rest is easy. advertising, quipped, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Is marketing the same as advertising? Marketing directors and ad agencies apparently think so. So do PR firms. Advertising and PR are the old way of marketing. They’re still trying to get your message into publications no one reads. In The New Rules of Marketing & PR, David Meerman Scott says that old-style marketing firms buy exposure with advertising or beg for exposure with public relations. Now these same firms are trying to make sense of the new media—video, webinars, podcasts—but with the old mindset. For them, marketing is media, not message. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 12
  • 13. What is Marketing Anyway? The marketing mix isn’t Marketing Remember Father Guido Sarducci from the early years of Saturday Night Live? He offered a Five Minute College that taught everything that the typical college graduate remembers ten years after leaving college. For instance, Economics? “Supply and demand.” That’s it. Business is, “you buy something, and you sell it for more.” In my meetings with executives, I ask, “What is marketing?” and I usually get a Father Guido Sarducci answer: “It’s the 4Ps.” But then, the executives can’t remember any of the Ps so they start calling out any words that start with the letter “P.” What we learned about marketing in college doesn’t seem to apply any longer. We learned the 4P’s or the marketing mix. Over the years, people added more and more words that start with the letter P to the marketing mix. Pricing. Positioning. People. Personas. PowerPoint. Prayer. g! PowerPoint! ric in PEOPLE! P r ay er! P Positioning! The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 13
  • 14. What is Marketing Anyway? What’s missing is the problem Problem But when was the last time he was in the customer’s chair? When did he last write some The first and most important consideration for any code? Balance indexes in a database? Backup a business is the market problem. It’s the problem file? What does the president know about the real that drives the product decisions, the message for world anymore? And his new hobby is cropping up positioning, and the key elements of selling—the at work, too. Now that he’s sailing his boat or flying placement strategy. Having identified the problem, his plane, he wants to include nautical or aviation the other Ps of the marketing mix become obvious. metaphors into the products and promotions. Product Engineers tend to be perennial inventors. They’ve always got a great idea of a new feature, a new The product we build should address a well- product, or a new technology. And it’s natural. understood market problem. What did Drucker say? “The aim of marketing is to know and In an IEEE paper, Albert Ehrenfried declared, “Too understand the customer so well that the product many products are developed to satisfy the desires, or service fits him and sells itself.” That is, the urges, and hunches of people within the company, product should come from a deep understanding rather than to meet the specific needs of the of the market of customers. market external to the company. Products grow out of the desire to tinker, or because an engineer sees Your company founder understood this, perhaps a purely technical challenge.”* inadvertently. That is, he created a solution to a problem he encountered in his daily life. He built Sound familiar? Ehrenfried wrote this paper in a product he felt sure others would value. And 1955—over fifty years ago. I guess the technology apparently he was right, as your company was a world hasn’t changed very much after all. Yet one success. But the problem was the second product CTO said to me, “Steve, you just don’t understand wasn’t quite as good as the first and the third innovation. We’re solving problems that people was a complete disaster. What happened to the don’t even have.” president’s innate understanding of the market? Well, he left the market; he became a president. Umm. How’s that working for you? For the last few years, he’s been more focused on hiring and firing and financing and cash flow and compliance and signage and all the other things * Source: Albert D. Ehrenfried, “Market Development—the Neglected Companion of Product Development,” IEEE Western Electronic Show that fill a president’s day. and Convention (WESCON) (San Francisco: August 24-26, 1955). The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 14
  • 15. What is Marketing Anyway? The best engineers and developers are problem- from your current employer’s e-mail account. solvers. If we start the marketing mix with the Hotmail gave you free, private e-mail… and each market problem, inventors can—and will—focus message you sent to your friends came with your on solving real problems. implicit endorsement. Nobody had to generate “buzz” for it; Hotmail became an overnight success With a problem-solving product in hand, the because it solved a problem and had the necessary promotion becomes interesting... and fun. Just promotion built right into each message. Did go ask people if they have the problem, explain they have to create the need? Nope. They didn’t how you solve it, and show them you are the promote the product at all; they just gave it to a best company to do so. It’s that easy. few hundred customers who told two friends who Promotion told two friends, and so on and so on… A hallmark of great marketing is thought When Google’s Gmail became available, I was leadership. Smart companies communicate with fairly unimpressed. Ugh, yet another mail program. their marketplace not by talking incessantly about And I knew I wouldn’t like a mail program that how great their products and services are, but didn’t have folders! Or so I thought. Once I had instead create useful content that shows people a few hundred messages, I realized folders are they understand the issues and problems facing irrelevant if you can search quickly. I don’t need buyers. This thought leadership-based content folders in Gmail because Google can actually find can take many offline forms such as speaking messages—faster than I can file them into folders. engagements, byline articles and appearances on The reason we need folders in Microsoft Outlook is radio and TV. On the web, thought leadership could that you can’t find anything using the search tools be an e-book (like this one), a well written blog provided by Microsoft (happily, you can use Google or a YouTube video. Desktop Search to find the Outlook messages that Microsoft can’t find). Do you remember the introduction of Hotmail? There was a problem in the industry: it was hard Build a product people want to buy, and show to access your personal e-mail account from you’re on top of their problems, and they’ll dig it. within the company firewall and besides, company The new rules of marketing are basically the same e-mail wasn’t really confidential so you couldn’t as the old rules of marketing: have something to easily send your resume to a potential employer talk about and people will listen. Just go ask people if they have the problem... and then show how you solve it. It’s that easy. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 15
  • 16. What is Marketing Anyway? Place I don’t truly blame the sales guys—they do what they do. However, I do blame sales management. Have you ever been in Sales? It’s hard to live with The VP of Sales (or if not the VP, then the CEO) your house payment on the line every month. It’s should reject deals that are not in the segment. particularly hard when you don’t really believe that your product has value. The real problem is this: the company engaged a sales group before they had clarity on the problem Incredibly, many salespeople don’t believe that they were solving, before they had a complete their product has any value to the client. How product, and before they had the promotions in sad is that? place to support a repeatable sales process. They The really sad part is many technology products built an incomplete product and hired salespeople don’t actually have value. They solve problems to push it. They hoped the sales team could that people don’t have. Or they solve the problem generate short-term revenues without interfering incompletely. So I guess I understand why with long-term viability and they lost. salespeople feel they have to sell product futures and make promises that the product can’t keep. Hope is not a strategy! But we can place some of the blame for our The truth is we shouldn’t engage a sales team until product failures on salespeople themselves. Maybe we have a repeatable sales process for all the buyer if they didn’t distract the company with “deal of personas in a well-defined market segment. Place the day,” the developers could actually finish 100% is the fourth P, not the first. of the functionality needed by a specific market segment. Yet even if the company has indeed created the ideal product set for a well-defined market segment, the sales team often sells the product into another segment. After all, for some in sales, anyone who calls back is a qualified prospect. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 16
  • 17. What is Marketing Anyway? Summarizing, product management is a game Companies fail when employing market without of the future. Product managers who know the marketing, when worrying more about promotion market, identify and quantify problems in a market than problem, when focusing more on selling than segment. They assess the risk and financials so the solving. That is, failure is likely when delivering company can run as a business. They communicate products without market knowledge. this knowledge to the departments in the company that need the information, allowing products and We should rely on product management to focus services to be built which solve a known problem on next year and the year after. To be thinking and expand the customer base profitability. And many moves ahead in the roadmap instead of they show their expertise to the outside world by only on the current release. engaging the market with smart ideas. Companies fail when employing market without marketing, when worrying more about promotion than problem, when focusing more on selling than solving. That is, failure is likely when delivering products without market knowledge. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 17
  • 18. Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization? Many CEOs realize product management Traditional consumer product companies have brings process and business savvy to the always considered product management to be creation and delivery of products. Perhaps a marketing role, which is why it seems to make that’s why we’ve seen a shift over the sense to put product management there. And it years of where product managers report does make sense—if the marketing department Product Managers in the organization. Many organizations is defining and delivering products and not just report to: put the job within another department. promoting them. Alas, as we explored earlier, In Pragmatic Marketing’s Annual Survey: many technology companies consider the term “marketing” to be synonymous with “marketing • 36% are in Product Management communications.” So if the Marketing department is only about delivering products but not defining • 21% are in Marketing Vice them, product managers should be elsewhere. Director President • 12% are in Development or Engineering 33% 39% For technology companies, particularly those • 6% are in Sales with enterprise or B2B products, the product management job is very technical. This is why we see many product managers reporting to CEO Development or Engineering. However, we’ve seen COO a shift away from this in recent years, from 19% in 8% 2001 to 12% in 2008. The problem appears to be that technical product managers spend so much Reporting Department for Product Managers time writing requirements that they don’t have time to visit the market to better understand the problems their products are designed to Sales solve. They spend so much time building products that they’re not equipped to help Development deliver them to the market. Marketing Product Management 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 2008 2001 The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 18
  • 19. Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization? Very few product managers find themselves in a In Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Sales (or Sales & Marketing) department. From 10% Peter Drucker tells us that organization charts in 2001, the percentage of product managers in really don’t fix problems; process and personnel Sales has slipped to 6% in 2008. It seems clear that problems are never solved by a re-org. The truth product managers in Sales will spend all of their is, it doesn’t matter where product management time supporting sales people with demos and reports. What matters is how the head of the presentations. The product manager becomes organization holds product management the sales engineer. accountable. In other words, what does “success” look like for a product manager? In effect, subordinating product management relegates it to a support role for the primary As companies grow larger and become more goal of the department. Vice Presidents and mature, the company president needs someone department heads have a natural inclination to thinking about the products we ought to be support their primary department’s role. The VP of offering and new markets we could serve. In Development, primarily responsible for delivering other words, the company needs someone products, tends to use product managers as thinking about the future of the product. project managers and Development gofers. The We already have people focused on product, VP of Marketing owns collateral, sales tools, lead promotion, and place. Who—if anyone—is generation, and awareness programs. So this VP identifying market problems for the next round often uses product managers as content providers of products? Who is the VP of Market Problems? to Marketing Communications. And the VP of And what result does the company president Marketing Sales, focused on new sales revenue, uses product want from Product Management? Communications managers to achieve that goal; product managers become “demo boys and demo girls” who support sales people one deal at a time. Product Management Development Sales The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 19
  • 20. Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization? Increasingly we see companies creating a marketing communications effort, supporting VP of Product Management, a department at them with market information and product the same level in the company as the other content. As we grow ever larger, the product major departments. This VP focuses the product marketing role expands further: we still need a management group on the business of the group defining our go-to-market strategy and product. The product management group providing content to Marketing Communications, interviews existing and potential customers, but now we also need more marketing assistance articulates and quantifies market problems in the in the field. So field marketing is born: product business case and market requirements, defines marketing people in the sales regions who create standard procedures for product delivery and specific programs for all of the sales people in launch, supports the creation of collateral and sales a given geographic area. tools by Marketing Communications, and trains the sales teams on the market and product. Product In summary, product management needs to Management looks at the needs of the entire focus on market problems. Subordinating the business and the entire market. role to other departments usually forces product management to support the primary needs of Recognizing that existing and future products that department, to the detriment of spending need different levels of attention, some companies time looking forward beyond the next cycle of split the product management job into smaller bits: activity. In a Product Management department one group is responsible for next year’s products focus can remain on market problems and while another group provides sales and marketing future opportunities. support for existing products. These companies often add a product marketing component to the We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress. —Petronius Arbiter, 210 B.C. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 20
  • 21. The Product Management Triad Some product managers have a natural affinity for working with Development, others for Sales and Marketing Communications, and others prefer to work on business issues. Finding these three orientations in one person is an almost impossible task. Instead, perhaps we should find three different people with these skills and have them work as a team. The Pragmatic Marketing Framework™ Roles and responsibilities defined Director, Business Marketing Positioning Product Strategy Case Plan Distinctive Market Sales Customer Pricing Competence Sizing Process Acquisition Market Product Buy, Build Market Customer Research Performance or Partner Requirements Retention Market Operational Product Product Launch STRATEGIC Problems Metrics Portfolio Roadmap Plan TACTICAL Market Quantitative Product Product Program Sales Channel Analysis Analysis Strategy Planning Strategy Readiness Support Technology Win/Loss User Buyer Channel Presentations Innovation Assessment Analysis Personas Personas Training & Demos Competitive Use Success Collateral & quot;Specialquot; Analysis Scenarios Stories Sales Tools Calls Release Thought White Event Technical Milestones Leaders Papers Support Product Manager Lead Competitive Answer Generation Write-Up Desk Product Marketing Manager © 1993-2008 Pragmatic Marketing, Inc. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 21
  • 22. The Product Management Triad Start with a business-oriented senior product To work as a team, they must be a team. Having manager for product strategy. Make this person a the TPM and PMM report to the same person Product Line Manager (PLM) or Director of Product minimizes conflict and overlap, giving the team Strategy (DPS). Now add a development-oriented a common objective. And gives a new Director Technical Product Manager (TPM) and a sales- the chance to learn to be a good manager oriented Product Marketing Manager (PMM). The of two people before getting five or ten latter two positions report to the Director or PLM. people to manage. One company had nine product managers and Consider also a “product line” for your base nine products, one product manager per product. technology or architecture with a focus on issues The sales people hated some of the product that span product lines. The architecture triad can managers and loved others. The ones the sales own acquisitions, third-party partnerships, and people loved were hated by developers. So three common tools needed across all product lines. product lines were created with a Product Line Manager for each, and then a Technical Product Does this model make sense for you? First take Manager and Product Marketing Manager was inventory of the skills of each of the product assigned to each product line. managers. Create an organization chart of one triad per product line with no names assigned. Now try Now for each product line, one person to move the business-oriented staff (usually your concentrates on product strategy and the business senior product managers) to the PLM positions, of the product line, while another works with development-oriented product managers to development to build the best product, and TPM and sales-oriented ones to PMM. Whatever another takes the product message to the channel holes remain in your org chart represent your by working with marketing communications and new hiring profiles. the sales force. Product Management teams provide career paths Some companies attempt to put these three from entry-level positions to Director, all within the people in three different departments. They put product line. On the following pages are some job the PLM into Sales to do business development; descriptions to consider. they put the TPM in Development and the PMM in Marketing Communications. This always fails. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 22
  • 23. The Product Management Triad Director, Product Strategy The Director of Product Strategy Duties include: (DPS) or Product Line Manager (PLM) has a business-orientation and is • Seeking new market opportunities within the responsible for the development company’s distinctive competence and implementation of the strategic • Initiating market research and sizing markets plan for a specific product family. Maintains close relationship with the • Documenting market problems (both existing market (customers, evaluators, and customers and future customers) potentials) for awareness of market • Analyzing product performance and sales success needs and perspectives. This includes identification of appropriate markets • Documenting product profitability and and development of effective operational metrics marketing strategies and tactics. This • Creating and maintaining the business case person is involved through all stages of a product family’s lifecycle. • Product pricing • Determining buy/build/partner decisions • Serve as the solution expert when dealing with thought leaders, analysts, and press • Positioning the product for all markets and all buyers • Documenting the ideal sales process • Providing high-level market and cross-product requirements • Maintaining the product family roadmap • Approving final marketing and go-to-market plans The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 23
  • 24. The Product Management Triad Technical Product Manager The Technical Product Manager The TPM is responsible for: (TPM) is responsible for defining market requirements and packaging • Technology assessment the features into product releases. The position involves close • Competitive analysis interaction with development • Win/loss analysis leads, product architects, and key customers. A strong technical • Monitoring industry innovations background is required. Job duties include gathering requirements from • Defining user personas for individual products prospects, evaluators and customers, writing market requirements, and • Creating and managing the product contract monitoring the implementation with development teams of a product project. • Writing business requirements • Monitoring the implementation of the product projects The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 24
  • 25. The Product Management Triad Product Marketing Manager The Product Marketing Manager The PMM owns: (PMM) provides product line support for program strategy, sales readiness • Defining buyer personas and and channel support. This position determining market messages requires close interaction with Marketing Communications and Sales • Maintaining product launch plans Management. Strong communication • Identifying best opportunities for skills are a must. Duties include lead generation converting positioning into key market messages and launching the products • Creating standard presentations into market. and demo scripts • Writing white papers and technical communiqués • Documenting competitive threats and related industry news • Facilitating direct sales and channel training • Supporting trade shows and other company-sponsored events • Limited onsite channel support and phone assistance The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 25
  • 26. Roles and Titles I am frequently asked who owns what in an Product Management vs. Product Marketing Activities organization with Product Management, Product Results from Pragmatic Marketing’s Annual Survey Marketing and Marketing Communications. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% A typical e-mail reads: Monitoring development projects I am wondering how you have defined Writing product requirements product manager and product marketing manager in your annual survey? One of our Writing detailed specifications employees picked up your survey with the goal of identifying the delta between her Creating sales presentations and demos compensation and market rates. I’ve gone Preparing business case back to look at the data on salary.com and found that her job definition matches better Researching market needs to product / brand manager than product marketing manager. She is more involved Going on sales calls with outbound marketing as it pertains to field support rather than inbound marketing Creating material for internal audiences (intranet/wiki) as it pertains to product definition. Can you Planning and managing marketing programs give me insight into the survey definitions? Training sales people Titles really are a mess in our business. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a Creating material for external audiences (blog/newsletter) product marketing manager. Technology businesses have generally ignored the standard terms used in Visiting sites (without sales people) other industries. In our Annual Product Management and Marketing survey, we ask people’s titles and Writing copy for promotional material reported incomes based on the titles without Working with press or analysts defining what we think they are. We also ask them to report responsibilities. Measuring marketing programs The survey results show product managers are Performing win/loss analysis more inclined to research the market and write requirements while product marketers typically Approving promotional material plan go-to-market strategy and write collateral. Product Manager Product Marketing Manager The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 26
  • 27. Roles and Titles Typically the title “product manager” is used to signify people who listen to the market and articulate the market problems in the form of requirements. And the title “product marketing manager” is usually assigned to those who take the resulting product to the market by defining a product marketing strategy. (I use the product manager title for both of these). Yet clearly, this delineation is not consistently applied. Product managers and product marketing managers are both equally involved in writing business cases and researching market needs. In Crossing the Chasm, Geoff Moore defines (and recommends) two separate positions: “A product manager is a member of either the marketing “A product marketing manager is always a member organization or the development organization who is responsible of the marketing organization, never of the development group, for ensuring that a product gets created, tested, and shipped on and is responsible for bringing the product to the marketplace schedule and meets specifications. It is a highly internally focused and to the distribution organization… it is a highly externally job, bridging the marketing and development organizations, and focused job.” requiring a high degree of technical competence and project management experience.” A product manager (PM) A product marketing manager (PMM) listens to the market talks to the market Moore goes on to say, “Not all organizations separate [the two positions], but they should... the type of people who are good at one are rarely good at the other.” But titles are meaningless; actions are meaningful. Pragmatic Marketing seminars introduce the activities often associated with product management and product marketing. Some of these activities are intimately linked. In particular, distinctive competence and market problems drive both requirements and positioning. Virtually all other product-related activities stem from these two. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 27
  • 28. Roles and Titles Requirements are written by those who understand technical details. User buyers need information the market. Market Requirements are comprised of about how the product will improve their daily the problems that are in the market. Notice the lives. Economic buyers want to know how the language: there are no marketing requirements; product will improve the bottom-line. Recently only market requirements. The market-driven a development executive said to me, “All of our product manager spends time out of the building collateral should be written as if I was the reader.” gathering requirements rather than sitting in a But does this executive represent the buyers? cubicle imagining what the market will buy. By Doubtful. Instead, collateral must be written in calling on various segments of the market, Product the language of the reader (the buyers) not for Management can articulate exactly the right employees of your company. product features to create a product that will sell. Product Management is the messenger of the Market requirements and positioning should be market. Product Marketing and Marketing written by those who understand the market. Yet in Communications should be involved in creating a recent survey, many marketing communications market messages but the market-savvy product people claimed responsibility for positioning, manager should have final authority over although none reported having any direct the positioning. customer experience. Who best to write these than the product managers who have gathered Market requirements and positioning are owned requirements? Positioning defines the features in by the person who best knows the market. Who is terms the buyer will understand, using language this in your company? the buyer would use. Technical buyers need Product Management is the messenger of the market. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 28
  • 29. Product Management in an Agile World Just as new technologies are changing the rules for product promotion, so it is for product development. Agile development methods are What is agile? sweeping into the vendor world. With emphasis on quick iterations and brevity in artifacts, the The Agile Manifesto* reads: new approach to planning is a breath of fresh air. We are uncovering better ways of There are some who say that Product developing software by doing it Management is the enemy of agile; that product and helping others do it. Through managers will try to impose structure, that this work we have come to value: Product Management will require detail where none is necessary. Fundamentally, some say that • Individuals and interactions Product Management stands for everything over processes and tools that agile is not. How can Product Management • Working software over contribute to agile? comprehensive documentation • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation • Responding to change over following a plan That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more. * agilemanifesto.org The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 29
  • 30. Product Management in an Agile World People and results are good; process is merely Why agile? a means to an end. Definitely! Who could disagree with this? I fear agile development isn’t so much a new approach to programming as it is a response And yet. to bad management. In the past, too much effort was spent on documenting exactly what Process and tools are safeguards for individuals would be delivered before a line of code was and interactions. Comprehensive documentation actually written; too much energy was wasted is necessary to deliver and maintain working getting precision on estimates long before those software. Negotiation is often how we codify estimates could be considered reliable. Everyone customer expectations. A plan is a technique that in development knew these methods weren’t allows us to respond to change. working. But management didn’t know or care. I don’t think agile advocates want the elimination So developers became increasingly frustrated of process, tools, and discipline. Instead, these with the planning process. Management enforced activities should support individuals, interactions, dates no one believed; management required and the delivery of working software. detailed documentation and schedules long before the details were known. No wonder developers were frustrated. Long ago the world used to be agile. A customer would ask for a report and we’d show up with 132 character-wide grid paper to design the report. “Company name? Okay, 40 characters plus a space is 41. Invoice date? 6 characters plus 1 space. What else?” Finance people and sales people and marketing people are making scheduling decisions for development projects they don’t understand with inadequate information. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 30
  • 31. Product Management in an Agile World Then Development became a key part of business. Management mandates rigor and precision before And the head of development wanted to know the scope of the work is truly understood. “How how long you’d be working in Accounting because long would it take you to build something?” Well, the manufacturing project needed your skills depends on what something is, doesn’t it? “Yes too. And customers wanted to know how much but give me a date anyway.” Management over- the report would cost before they committed to commits development all the time. cross-department billing. And then HR wanted to know how many actual hours were spent in each Developers often see the product managers as area for internal billing of your time. These are all senior management’s police force. And to be legitimate requests, aren’t they? honest, this is somewhat legitimate. Haven’t many product managers imposed dates on projects they Working as a developer in a business involves don’t truly understand? Haven’t many product working as a business—which means resourcing managers enforced process and documentation and scheduling highly skilled workers. beyond what is necessary? Maybe the big problem agile is trying to address So finance people and sales people and marketing is not so much that management is bad; it’s that people are making scheduling decisions for management is early. They want to know too development projects they don’t understand with much too soon, long before the development inadequate information. Sounds like a recipe for team actually knows. They ask for estimates, get disaster. And it is. Thus, agile was born! our guesses—and they are guesses—and then announce delivery dates for the project. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 31
  • 32. Product Management in an Agile World Where does product management fit? Product management is fundamentally about Delivering a product to a market of customers delivering successful products to a market of requires synchronizing the software, hardware, customers. This requires a deep understanding services, documentation, marketing programs, of market requirements. The problem is most and sales tools to present a complete product development methods were designed for to the marketplace. one-off projects rather than repeatable products. So where does product management fit in an Answer: the product manager must integrate agile development environment? all schedules so we can deliver and support the product in the market. One of the key aspects of agile programming is an onsite customer. While this makes sense In agile programming—and frankly in any in a one-off environment when customer and programming model—the effective product developer are in the same building, it’s unworkable manager serves as representative of a market in a vendor model. How do you have an onsite of customers. customer in a vendor model? Accelerating agile adoption Answer: the product manager serves as the Product managers should support the ideals of customer representative in planning and agile development. We want some process but requirements definition. not too much. Smaller iterations give us more Building a repeatable product requires feedback flexibility in adapting to change. Less time spent from many customers, not just one. So someone documenting leaves more time for programming. needs to aggregate the requirements from many We want to assist development and the rest of the sources into a single coherent set of requirements. team in delivering a complete product to a market, creating a product that people want to buy. Answer: the product manager defines the requirements and the product roadmap for a market of customers. The Strategic Role of Product Management How a market-driven focus leads companies to build products people want to buy 32