Fundamentals of Product Management Explained

In order to really understand a business field, you’re best served to step outside technicalities, metrics and other complexities, and just look at the basic intellectual fundamentals that are involved in the field. That’s the case with product management, which is a complex field many don’t fully understand, even with an interest in it. So, maybe it’s time to step back in a more relaxed atmosphere, and look at the basic fundamentals of product management.

Before we do this, however, let me point out that fundamentals of product management won’t paint an complete picture of all that goes into this field, though they definitely serve to make excellent disambiguation. I suggest, after going through this, you take a look at our metrics, KPI and other topics related to product management. If those were a bit confusing before, after looking at this document, they’ll very likely be much more relatable. We probably should have started with this one, in retrospect.

So, what are the fundamentals of this field? Well, let’s talk about what this field is about. A product manager or management team is responsible partly for production (though the rich field of production management is not the same thing – we demonstrated that not long ago), branding and shaping of the product, distribution of it, and representation of it in the store front, be it brick and mortar or ecommerce website.

Now, the biggest fundamental skill of product management comes down to innovation and efficiency of meeting goals of production and distribution. With these, production management people and product management people work together, and this is where the two fields overlap a bit in a Venn diagram form. But, where production management professionals worry about the tooling and manufacturing process, product managers worry more about the form the product takes, how its branding is implemented, and how it is made available to the customer.

In a brick and mortar scenario, they concern themselves with it being visible and distinguished alongside competing products. This is also where they, too, must work with marketing and branding people, to ensure that this product accomplishes this distinction, while retaining the kind of identity that the company wishes. In an ecommerce environment, it’s a bit more relatable to UX and technology fields, where the ease of browsing, researching and purchasing process is much easier. Of course, branding and marketing still plays a role, but it’s less about being heard over other noise and more about ideological conveyance and reduction of complexity.

Another aspect of product management as I said was innovation, which pertains to ways to continually bring novelty and improvement to a product in some form. This can be as simple as branding, physical properties of a product, distribution, marketing campaigns, whatever. This is to abate complacency or stagnation of a product, which isn’t constructive, especially in competitive markets.

Overarching these is the ability to ensure that these goals, when put in place, are met with the speed and resource efficiency that stakeholders reasonably expect. Making it within or under budget in money, resources and time, as it were.

So, really, fundamentals of product management are all about store presence of a product (along with that, branding), customer experience in a roundabout manner, and innovation and proficiency of production on an indirect level above the physical manufacturing process. This is a difficult field, but it’s one that calls for creativity, and it provides so much fulfilling challenge for those that seek challenging work.

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Mark Silver
Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.
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