A Product Management Framework helps to create clarity around the scope of work for a product manager. It’s a simple but effective way to define the boundaries of work. Consider this framework as a toolkit that allows you to pick and choose the items that are relevant for you. Product management means different things for different people and companies and creating clarity around the scope makes everyone happy.
This framework comprises of six categories that cover product management from strategy all the way up to operations. Each category contains knowledge blocks (things you need to know) and activities (things you do).
From Strategy to Operations – a product management framework
Understanding the market – keeping up with the industry and developing new ideas
A product manager needs to be in the know about everything that is related to his or her products. Whether it’s about understanding the market, the competition, or how customers are moving about the product. Only when being in the know, you will be able to build the right product or make the right product decisions.
Product vision and strategy
What is your dot on the horizon, where are you taking your products. You don’t want your job to be dwelling around keeping the product up to date, no you want to move somewhere with your product. So coming up with a strong vision, and a healthy roadmap is essential to achieving success.
Product planning and development
As a product manager you are typically not the one building the product. Otherwise you would have been called the product development manager. 🙂 During development your role is to ensure the right product is build and that timelines are being kept. There can be confusion in terms of the tasks related to the product manager versus the product owner. This depends on the structure of the organization though. The role of the product manager is to ensure development goes as planned, the right partners are involved, and the product meets the requirements of the customer.
Experimenting, Testing and releasing products
Before releasing the portfolio you have to ensure they meet the requirements of your customer. This means a lot of testing with users, customers, stakeholders, etc. Testing starts with your experiments that later morphs into an MVP and then your final product. During testing you’re working extensively with the development team and customer facing teams to collect and process feedback.
Go to Market
Time to launch! How are you going to launch your product to achieve maximum adoption. During this phase you are working with marketing team to come up with the right messaging, the right channels, and the right strategy to take the product to the market.
Support and Operations
Product managers demonstrate radical accountability for their products from inception to retirement of your product. Or as devops teams say: “from cradle to grave”. This means your job is not done when the product is launched. Some would argue that the work begins as soon as the product has been launched as without adoption your product is useless. In this phase you are supporting sales and commercial teams in their engagement with customers and users. You are working with the marketing team to run campaigns and host events. You are preparing pitches, presenting your story and are actively engaging with customers. You attend conferences and speak about your field of work.
Other Product Management Frameworks
There are numerous other product management frameworks available in the market. Most of these frameworks follow a similar pattern. Often the visual approach is a bit different, or the way the content is presented, but all in all there is a fair amount of consensus about the role of the product manager. Here are a number of alternative models:
Pragmatic Marketing Institute has always been a leading player for me. When I was a starting product manager their model already intrigued me and helped me to shape myself into a product manager. The advantage of the model is that its very complete. There are 37 activities defined that are relevant for a product manager. Pragmatic also organizes training programs to help you navigate through the model. The downside is that I find some of the activities a bit too conceptual and not very practical. I’m a hands-on practical guy, but perhaps it works for you.
Roman Pichler is a British PM expert. He writes, trains, consults on product management. The framework is depicted as a circle, but it’s not a lifecycle based model. Roman identifies six different knowledge areas and defines activities for each of them. What makes the model interesting is that Roman defines various product manager roles, and highlights what the important areas in the model are for those specific roles. The roles are Product Owner, Inhouse Product Manager, Technology Product manager
Steven Haines is author of the PM bible – Product Manager Desk Reference ik (I did not finish this book, too much content, not enough pictures). Steven is an authority, and his model certainly deserves attention.