Product management is a function that can be critical to your business's success. But it is a complex area, requiring a broad set of skills that are unique to each organization.
Therefore many organizations misunderstand what skills their product managers need to add, and at what point.
This is how companies usually solve problems:
- If sales are lagging, you train your sales team
- If product development is slow or inefficient, you invest in new processes
- If marketing doesn’t generate leads, you change the marketing agency
These “fixes” are logical on the surface but may be insufficient, or even unnecessary. Because all these problems have a common denominator:
If you strengthen your product management, you strengthen them all.
- What if your sales suffered because you have a worse-than-average product?
- What if product development were over-stretched because of poor prioritization?
- What if marketing didn’t receive the right input to create their campaigns?
The answer to all these real problems is: you need competent product management. And nobody is competent at everything, because it is such a wide-spanning area.
So at certain points you need to invest in training your product managers, or the whole organization will suffer. But how do you know it’s time to train them
I will now go through five situations that call for further training your product managers or product management teams.
Here they are:
1. The product management role is unclear so they get swamped
Are you sure your product managers focus on the right things? Unfortunately, they often get taken advantage of by other stakeholders. They are seen as some sort of additional resource for solving problems that don’t belong to them.
If your product managers are constantly bogged down with short-term tactical activities like routine sales and technical support, the organization will risk its long-term competitiveness, Train them, and they will know exactly what to focus on to add the most value to the organization in any situation — long and short term.
2. The product manager knows tech — not the business part
Product managers live for the success of their products, and need to know their market and customers intimately. Often in tech companies, they have a strong technical background. But having skills in technology and product development is not enough. They also need to understand strategy, business, market logic, and product marketing. These are business-related skills. Are you sure your product managers have them?
3. When your business model changes, so should your product managers
For example, many tech companies start out delivering projects to a few, specific customers. As the companies grow, they instead need to develop standardized products. Evolving from a project to a product business model is complex. Not only do you need a clear roadmap for your products, but also the right product skills and mindset. With the right training, your likelihood of success drastically increases.
4. You reach a scale where you need real product management
If you are a startup or smaller business, you may not need a dedicated product management person or team. But if you are successful and scale up, you will hit a certain point where the size and complexity of your products and services demand that you invest in product management. You need to define the roles and responsibilities for product management, and it is unlikely that your organization already has those capabilities in-house.
5. Your product managers need to be really, really Agile
To deal with the pace and changes in the modern marketplace, companies embrace the Agile methodology. But implementing Agile is a challenge in itself, and many fail as some of the prerequisites for Agile principles are not met.
For example, autonomous teams need a proper product strategy and product vision to give directions to the Agile development process. The role of product management plays a critical part in this. Unfortunately, we are not born with a solid grasp of the Agile methodology. So training is important.
There you have it, five situations where training your product managers or product management teams can be the difference between success and failure.
Not only do your product managers need to know a little about everything, and a lot about some things, but they also need a clear definition of what the role does and doesn’t entail.
It’s not easy, give them some help.
Published: September 14, 2022