My previous posts on the “product management system of record” have focused on the “Finding a Market Problem” and “Creating a Solution” parts of the product management process.
In this post, I’m going to complete the story, and talk about how the system of record can be used for the “Go-to-Market” part of the product management process.
Maybe you have read my post from a few weeks ago on a system of record for product management, and agree that not only does product management need one but there are no tools that provide one. What should you do? Can you “cobble together” an interim system of record solution, and should you?
A few years ago I wrote in an essay that business processes arrive in the modern age only when they have a system of record. This first started with accounting (centuries ago), which led (much more) recently to the back office and manufacturing with MRP, and then eventually ERP. The same occurred again with sales, beginning with contact managers before moving to sales force automation, and finally customer relationship management (CRM).
Product managers often place the cart before the horse. We love to think about the product, the features, how “cool” the UI is, and how we can make the product better.
Steve Ballmer was once quoted saying, “The lifeblood of our business is that R&D spend. There's nothing that flows through a pipe or down a wire or anything else. We have to continuously create new innovation that lets people do something they didn't think they could do the day before.”
This inbound team of heavily technical product managers was responsible for the 2-3 year product roadmap for the company. As a result, their main constituents were the entire engineering community and, more specifically, the software and hardware architects interspersed through that community.
“Roadmap” is the most overused word in product management because everyone asks for one. Every stakeholder wants a roadmap because it addresses different needs for different people. Executives want to know the strategy, sales want to know the timeline, and what no one seems to realize is that a roadmap doesn’t solve a problem or deliver a requirement.
Prior to my career as a product manager, I was a quota-carrying, territory-based sales guy in business-to-business accounts. I was on the receiving end of product management training many times. Of course, the product managers are enthusiastic—they need to be, but I didn't like the training because they weren't answering the Top 10 Sales Questions.