From concept to launch (and beyond), successful product management connects all parts of the digital equation—technology, design, editorial, sales, marketing, the customer—into a formula for success. Two of Brightspot's product managers shared their product management insights and expertise during a recent webinar on the topic.
Product managers sit at the heart of every project that a product touches. Their input will help you to get the best out of a product and flex its capabilities to best support your organization and its customers.
As part of our On Demand series of webinars, we decided to lift the lid on this topic and delve a bit deeper in a session entitled, “From Concept to Launch: How Product Management Drives Success in Digital Strategy.”
Product managers have diverse and highly transferable skills.
Daniel Noriega, Principal Product Manager at Brightspot, and one of the presenters on the webinar, says there is an extraordinary breadth to the role.
“A product manager is a strategist, a designer, an ambassador, a negotiator, a planner, a good communicator and an analyst. He or she will take the product from ideation to termination and all the phases in between," he remarks. "They are the person who truly understands and advocates for the end user."
We drill down into the role of a product manager in this accompanying article. But for now, let’s look at how a good product management team will help you stay on track when taking a product from concept to launch.
Glassdoor just ranked the role of a product manager as the 4th best job in 2020. That’s based on open positions and shows that it’s hot. But why is it hot? In the last 5 years it has generated a lot of traction, primarily driven by digital transformation and how central the role is to helping organizations become more.
The better you understand and define a problem, the more effective and targeted you can make the solution. This is the beginning of the product lifecycle—the discovery phase. It is the start of the journey, so it is important to get off on the right foot.
There are various primary and secondary methods that product managers employ to understand the issues at stake, the users in question, the marketplace and the competition. This is where the pure learning happens and it might include interviews, focus groups, surveys, and desktop research.
“It is so important to ensure you are building a solution that makes an impact and which generates value,” says Brightspot's Noriega.
On the back of this learning, it is then up to the organization to examine the business case for the potential solution and to decide if it is financially feasible. Often, the product manager will have limited input into this decision, but once the go-ahead is given the next phases can begin.
Segments, personas and customer journeys
Who has a problem? Where does it occur on their customer journey? How will the solution overcome the issue? Does the remedy align with the organization's strategic goals?
Answering these questions will let the product manager keep an organization's approach in tune with its own strategic aims and its customers’ needs. To do this, they will need to get a closer view of the customer by working through performance and segmentation analysis and then looking at various personas.
Noriega says personas have become a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. He explains: “Customer personas have to be experience focused and not just based on simple demographics, which is the way we used to do it. They will require a journey map for the product managers to really understand the different touchpoints and challenges and therefore opportunities.”
As the digital product lifecycle moves from discovery to delivery, a product manager will create a roadmap to pull all the learnings together.
The roadmap will outline the organization's strategic goals and a prioritized list of customer needs. It will set them alongside a developing product vision, which shows how the needs of each party will be met.
Noriega says: “How product managers create the initial roadmap, which is going to be the main input into execution, is really important. It drives the direction of everything you do from a tactical perspective.”
Armed with the initial roadmap, a product manager will now turn their attention to execution. This is not a one-step process and comprises a number of important stages.
Having set out what the product should do, it is now time to define how it will do it. Detailing this front-end functionality will also mean determining the exact technical requirements and necessary third-party integrations.
At this stage the roadmap will really come to life and the build out will start. The process is still fluid and the product manager will help match user stories and requirements to the most appropriate look, feel and functionality of the various options available.
Product management at a glance
Sherrie Bakshi, also a Principal Product Manager at Brightspot and presenter during the webinar, notes: “The user story and requirements stage is when different teams come together and this is a transitional period. As a product manager you have the knowledge of everything from day one and understand what the overall goals are and the journey so far.”
Communication is key at this stage, and a product manager will be frank and transparent with stakeholders about what will and will not work as decisions get finalised.
Even when UAT and validation are complete, there will be last minute tweaks needed and unexpected bugs to fix. A product manager will get these snags sorted and take the product through to launch.
But that’s not the end of the journey—in many ways, it is just the start.
"Once the product is live, the journey does not end," Bakshi says. "Where are the opportunities to improve functionality and usability? Will the audience stay the same and how do you have to adapt to keep them on board? As so it all begins again!”
Throughout the digital lifecycle of a product, Brightspot’s product managers work on a consultative basis with clients, ensuring there is expert support at every stage of the process. Their detailed product knowledge will help you and your customers get the solutions you both need. For more details, watch the webinar.