It was great fun and Michael is a great host. Mostly it got me to think, talk and reminisce about my first love—Product Management.
Over the 30 minutes or so I was able to cover several of my favorite Product Management topics but in replaying it I realized I never got around to one of my most stringent rules for being a good Product Manager (although God knows I tried, I even attempted to talk through the break).
I've always been fascinated with how and why business deals are won and lost. As a long time product manager, I've always wanted to know why companies chose or didn't choose my product or service. What I've learned is that knowing makes all the difference.
Too often, the simple answer from sales is it’s either because of price or functionality.
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.
Product Portfolio management is one of those important but not urgent activities that we never seem to have time to do. It is often thought of as an academic exercise; however, good product managers and product team leaders know it should be done, but struggle to organize the effort. If they take the initiative, the activity can unravel very quickly into an over heated debate about which products should be in what quadrant and why.
Product managers often rely too heavily on very narrow views of market input to decide what features are built into a new product or new release. While the usual stakeholders, including executive and existing customers, deserve to be heard, product managers often over correct their input results in product releases that only satisfy a very small group of potential buyers.
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).
Most of the information and discussion we see on the web about channel partners, value-added reseller (VARs) and system integrators is almost exclusively focused on incenting and selling to channel partners— i.e., how to create the right rewards program for partners, the most effective use of market development dollars,
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.