Product Management is the core of every software development project. It's the glue keeping every piece of the puzzle together. This article will cover the basics and FAQs of Product Management. Also, we'll review its role in software development and share some valuable tools. But first, let's start from the beginning. What do we mean by "product"?
What is a Product in Software Development?
In general, products can fall into three main categories. These are durable, consumer, and industrial. Further, consumer products have their classifications. These are convenience, shopping, specialty, and unsought products. What about software development products in particular? Well, a software product can be application software or system software.
Some of the most common types of products that you can develop in this field include Startup Products, Additive Features, Marketplace Platforms, and Mass Consumer Apps. Nonetheless, you can also see Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), B2B Solutions, and Internet of Things (IoT), Physical, and Machine Learning Products.
What is Product Management?
Product Management guides a product's lifecycle. Its process puts the product and consumers first. A Product Manager (PM) identifies the consumer's needs. As a result, they translate those into products or features. Also, they pitch ideas and work with the team to bring them to life. All this while ensuring it meets the needs of users. Yet, Product Management differs slightly in the tech world.
Here, a PM will have technical computer science and software engineering knowledge. This understanding will allow them to manage the development team. Yet, this will depend on each project. Now that we have some context let's focus on the Product Management process. We'll look into its main areas and roles. Moreover, we'll cover the Product Management lifecycle.
What are Product Management Main Areas?
Product Management encloses three central pillars. These are Product Discovery, Product Planning, and Product Development. Let's review each below:
1. Product Discovery. Also known as "opportunity discovery, Product Discovery revolves around what to build. The success of the project hinges on getting this step right. Here, PMs will conduct relevant research, including interactions with potential users. Also, they're in charge of keeping an eye on the competition.
2. Product Planning. Product Planning focuses on figuring out what the product will look like. The product vision and roadmap development take place in this stage. Here, the PM will establish the goals during the development stages.
3. Product Development. The final area of Product Management is development. Besides creating the final product, there are some specific tasks in Product Development. Some of these include developing a backlog and a development plan from it. Also, there are user-related edges to attend to. Some enclose writing requirements for user stories and product optimization from feedback. Another relevant task is carrying out User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
What are the Roles in Product Management?
Product Managers can have different roles or purposes. Often, it depends on the project and the company's needs. Let's review three specialized PM roles.
1. Growth Product Manager. A Growth PM focuses on improving metrics. These go alongside the company's goals and help grow businesses. Here, the Product Manager will work closely with the Marketing Team. Often, they'll run short-term experiments to measure success.
2. Technical Product Manager. This type of PM relates the most to the subject matter of this article. Technical Product Managers will often have some background in development or engineering. Thus, they'll focus on functionalities or the best tech stacks for each project.
3. Data Product Manager. In this case, the Data Product Manager will work with the analytics team and data analysis. As a result, they'll create use cases to measure a product's or feature's success.
What is the Product Management Lifecycle?
We saw that there are three main areas of Product Management. The tasks included in each place make up its lifecycle. Yet, there is no real consensus on the number of functions in the project management lifecycle in software development. You’ll find various sources describing between five and nine stages that cover the development process. For this article, we’ve chosen to focus on a six-step lifecycle, as you’ll see below.
1. Ideation. The first stage is to come up with a product to solve a specific customer problem. Here, you also establish the scope of the product.
2. Requirements. Once you have the idea for your product, you'll need to establish its specific requirements. Moreover, you'll need to ensure that the product development is workable. You will use this to create a roadmap for product development.
3. Design. After having precise requirements, you can move on to the design stage. You will lay out the product architecture and create a prototype design here.
4. Development. Now you’re ready to start developing the product. Your team will focus on writing the code for your product's various features. At this stage, the involved teams must consider the relevant specifications.
5. Testing. With the product already developed, you'll have to test it. Here, QA engineers make sure everything is working as it should. In parallel, developers fix any bugs or issues that may come up.
6. Deployment. Once the software is ready, you will launch it into the market. This release will come accompanied by appropriate and previously approved marketing strategies.
7. Maintenance. The Product Management lifecycle does not end at deployment. After launch, you will continue to gather feedback to improve and update your product.
Do Product Managers need to code?
About Product Management in software development, no coding is involved. But, a Product Manager in this field should have some background in the software development lifecycle.
Will Product Management be automated?
It’s doubtful that Product Management will become automated in the future. AI and automation uses are increasing in our daily lives. In this context, Product Management is no exception. At some point, PMs will have to integrate automation into their work. This process applies when considering the level of complex decision-making and evolving marketing. Yet, artificial intelligence is unlikely to take over this role completely.
Product Management vs. Project Management
These two concepts are complementary but separate. Let’s first look at the differences between a project and a product. A product is an item or service created to meet consumer needs. Meanwhile, a project is a set of tasks established to meet a goal. A product is a final result of one or a series of projects. We can say that Product Management deals with the idea behind a product.
This encompasses planning its production and its business trajectory. Meanwhile, Project Management focuses on the methods, skills, processes, and knowledge needed to make the product a reality. If you want to dive deeper into their differences, check our article about it!
Product Management vs. Product Marketing
Again, Product Management is concerned with bringing a product to life. For its part, Product Marketing focuses on making the product sellable. These areas have the user's core and entail their fair share of market research. Yet, Product Marketing is also responsible for positioning and growth.
Product Manager vs. Product Owner
Product Managers focus on users' needs and prioritize the next product development steps. Meanwhile, a product owner is in charge of creating and managing the product backlog. They also create user stories for the development team and help them execute a shared vision. To sum up, while Product Managers are strategists, Product Owners are tactical.
Why is Product Management Important?
As we’ve mentioned, Product Management is the glue that holds your project together. But a PM wears many hats to guarantee the success of a project. Let’s look at the importance of Product Management in software development below.
1. Customer Needs. Product Managers interact with and research customer needs to perform the best idea. Delivering a working product that meets needs and expectations is vital for success. These needs and expectations are continuously shifting. So, there might be changes along the course of a project. The Product Manager is there to track the shifts and make sure changes are implemented.
2. Product Roadmap. Software products can become obsolete as techs change and evolve at a fast pace. PMs ensure a clear product roadmap to help the software stay relevant in the long run.
3. Clear Scope. As PMs are in charge of setting the vision for a product, they will establish its scope. Having a clear scope helps organize the processes around the project's specific aim.
4. Team Resources. The role of Product Management is key to maximizing team resources. Development teams comprise a variety of IT professionals besides developers. These can be analysts, designers, testers, or content creators. A PM will guide team members to meet client requirements within the specified deadlines. They will also organize how best to use team resources.
5. Quality Control. Product Managers will work to assess the quality of the product. This process applies at each stage to ensure no bugs or issues.
As you can see, Product Management creates a roadmap for the development process. Also, PMs are in charge of ensuring every team process follows and adjusting it when necessary. This makes Product Management essential for the software development process.
As you can see, Product Management is key to any successful project. They ensure every aspect of the development process runs smoothly. Further, they're always looking out for the interests of potential users. We hope this article has given you a comprehensive review of Product Management in Software development!