Product Management

Is It Time to Rethink Product Roles in Your Organization?

In the ever-evolving world of technology, the role of product management has undergone a significant transformation. No longer are product managers solely responsible for crafting product features and overseeing their development. Today's product managers are expected to adopt a broader perspective, encompassing both product delivery and product validation, while driving business outcomes rather than simply churning out features and reporting on them.

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AUTHOR

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Jasper Venema

Product Management Consultant

Specialised in scaling SaaS products

December 2023

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4 minutes

From Feature Factories to Value Creation

Traditional product management has often focused on the delivery of features, prioritising the completion of tasks and adherence to timelines or milestones. While this approach may be successful in some situations, it generally falls short in today's dynamic market, where customer needs and preferences evolve rapidly.

This "feature factory" mentality, where product teams are solely focused on churning out features over a timeline, often leads to a disconnect between product development and business objectives. As a result of this behaviour, over time, organisations may find themselves investing time and resources into building products or features that customers ultimately no longer want or need. Thereby failing to achieve product and business goals.

Some nuance should be given here to the fact that customers & users and their wants & needs can change as much as products and services do. It may be very well so that a certain product in a certain maturity stage will benefit from a feature factory. We argue here that even so, there should be a connection with the end user, focussing on delivering value, rather than the feature itself. 

To address this challenge, organizations must shift their focus from feature delivery to value creation. This requires a fundamental change in mindset, moving away from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric one. Product managers must become customer advocates, deeply understanding their needs, frustrations, and aspirations. Only then can they design and develop products that truly address user and customer problems and deliver tangible value.

The Product Manager's Evolving Role

To fulfil their expanded responsibilities, product managers must adopt a broader skill set and embrace a more holistic approach to product development. This includes:

  • Strategic thinking: Aligning product decisions with the overall business strategy and ensuring that products contribute to achieving organisational goals.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Leveraging data & analytics to understand customer behaviour, measure product performance, and inform product decisions.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Fostering a collaborative environment where product managers work closely with engineering, marketing, sales, and other teams to ensure alignment and shared ownership of product success.
  • Customer-centricity: Embracing a customer-centric approach, prioritising customer needs and incorporating user feedback throughout the product development lifecycle.
  • Continuous learning: Staying abreast of emerging trends and technologies to adapt product strategies and remain competitive in the market.

The Importance of Product Validation

Product validation is the process of ensuring that a product is solving a real customer problem and delivering value before investing significant resources in its development. This involves a continuous feedback loop, where product managers gather user feedback, analyse product usage data, and refine the product based on these insights.

By incorporating product validation into the product development process, organisations can significantly reduce the risk of investing in products that fail to meet customer needs. This approach not only saves time and money but also leads to more successful products that resonate with the target audience.

Rethinking Product Roles for Success

To empower product managers to fulfil their evolving responsibilities and embrace product validation, organisations should rethink their product management structures and processes. This may involve:

  • Establishing a product validation team: A dedicated team responsible for gathering user feedback, analyzing product usage data, and conducting product validation experiments. The UX research team can and should also play a role in this particular area.
  • Investing in data analytics tools: Providing product managers with the tools and resources they need to collect, analyse, and interpret data effectively.
  • Creating a culture of experimentation: Encouraging product teams to experiment with different product features and approaches, based on customer insights and data-driven decision-making.
  • Integrating product validation into the product development lifecycle: Making product validation an integral part of the product development process, from ideation to launch and beyond.

By embracing these changes, organisations can empower their product managers to drive innovation, deliver products that customers love, and achieve sustainable business success.

As you ponder about Product and explore the potential within your product management practices, remember that you're not navigating these waters alone. We, the 25Friday team, are dedicated to guiding tech companies through the intricate maze of product strategy. With our expertise in consultancy and nearshore development, we partner with organisations to fine-tune their product vision, align their teams, and craft strategies that resonate in today’s dynamic market. Reach out to us, and let's work together to turn your product challenges into successful ventures that stand out in the tech landscape.