Why companies need Product Managers

It’s great to go searching for a new use for new technologies – but that doesn’t often translate into success for an existing business.

For those of us who grew up in product management, we know our businesses succeed when they understand what users / customers want – or need - and then use our skills and tech to develop products and services that fits the market.

In short, find the market, understand what customers want and use a dedicated Product Manager to lead the team to meet the need.

The result is products or services are developed that your customers actually want. They're developed more efficiently, profits reached more quickly.

It’s a simple proposition – but achieving these results involves research, strategy and planning, teamwork. And deep interaction. With customers, with marketing/sales, customer service, management and critically, designers and devs. It doesn’t happen in a day or a week and it’s impossible to do this efficiently when there’s no single Product owner or manager.

The Product Manager is the pivot point for all of this. We're the binding agent that brings the different parts of the business together to build and launch great product. We create and provide the environment for teams to intimately understand customers, identify problems and imagine solutions -  to refine and refine again until product-market fit is achieved.

But in many companies, Product Managers or a product division doesn’t exist. Product management is done piecemeal: a bit in Marketing, a bit in Ops and a bit in Tech. Product is handled by everyone and no one at the same time.

But with the pressures in today's markets, the demand from customers for more, the truth is that, to be effective, the role of a manager for a particular product shouldn’t be filled by multiple people.

This role is like the United Nations. Product Managers bring people and the organisation together, unified in pursuit of solving customer problems. They glue, they bind, they unite the business and they create the space where existing ‘silos’ can be deconstructed for the benefit of the customer and ultimately the business.

A good Product Manager will ensure a market-driven approach, and won't be cajoled by the forces of sexy tech or current fads. They are the authoritative “voice of the customer” making sure the organisation builds something customers actually want, and they improve time-to-everything: a well-defined product management process run by effective PM’s will improve both time-to-market and time-to-revenue.

In my 20+ years across digital product management, I've it structured in myriad different ways; often depending on the B2C or B2B nature of the business, its legacy, its tech bent, its strategy. Sometimes Product peeps live in Marketing, often in Tech/IT, sometimes under the COO, and sometimes in a dedicated product division.  

Where are the product people you know? How is digital product management structured at your company and is the model a good one? Would love to hear from you.