Product Management

Product Management 101: The Ultimate Starter Pack

Content Writer

Athira V S

Created on:

June 20, 2024

Updated on:

June 19, 2024

12 mins read

Product Management 101: The Ultimate Starter Pack

If you're new to product management, it's easy to get lost in product management buzzwords and different definitions. After reading all of them, you may still be wondering: but what do the product managers actually do?

The truth is that they wear many hats and juggle diverse roles. The product manager's responsibility is to conduct user research and collaborate with developers, marketers, and other stakeholders.

Sounds stressful?

With good resources and the right tools, it doesn't have to be! That's why we created this product management 101 guide to help you enter the world of product management.

What is product management?

Product management refers to managing the entire lifecycle of a product, from product ideation to launch and post-launch optimization, including all the phases in between. It also includes collaboration with cross-functional teams such as engineering, design and marketing teams.

Product managers act as the voice of the customer, making sure that the product meets market needs and aligns with business goals.

The role of a product manager doesn't stop once the product is launched. New product management frameworks are all about continuous discovery and improvement of the product.

Product management vs project management

Project management focuses on planning and executing specific projects within a defined time period. It is a broader category than product management. It could be product-related and can also be related to other types of projects, such as implementing new procedures or hiring staff.

As mentioned above, product management is an ongoing process, while project management is temporary, time-limited and goal-specific by its definition.

Product management vs product marketing

While product management covers the whole product lifecycle, from the initial idea to post-launch, product marketing focuses on one of its stages: promoting and selling the product.

It's not to say that a product marketing manager has it easy. Their job consists of conducting market research, defining messaging and positioning, creating and implementing marketing campaigns and generating leads.

Check out this article to see why product management and digital marketing should collaborate and how data gathered by product management teams could help marketing specialists.

Product management vs product development

While product management focuses on the overall strategy, vision and roadmap of a product, development is mostly focused on the technical side and actually creating the product.

A product development team can also be referred to as an engineering team, as it consists of people with technical skills such as coding, testing, and development. Their job is to turn the product manager's vision into a tangible product that can be delivered to the customers.

Why is product management important?

It's hard to imagine building customer-centric products without a good product management team. Here are some of the reasons why project management is so essential:

  • Strategic vision: Product managers ensure that a product aligns with a company's long-term vision and business objectives, which leads to sustainable growth and success.
  • Customer satisfaction: By thoroughly researching customer needs and wants, product management ensures building products that will delight customers and increase their satisfaction and retention rate.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: A product manager leads collaboration between multiple teams, such as design, marketing and development teams, making sure everyone is on the same page and everything runs smoothly. This helps avoid misunderstandings and leads to launching a product much faster.
  • Competitive edge: Product managers are constantly in touch with user needs and market trends, and they're driving continuous product improvement, which helps a company adapt quickly and stay competitive.

Product management team structure: Roles & responsibilities

Product teams can differ in size and roles, depending on your company's business model, industry and complexity of the product. However, here are the responsibilities of the typical product team members:

  • Product manager: They're responsible for defining the product vision, strategy and roadmap – in other words, seeing the bigger picture. They also oversee collaborating with other teams, such as marketing and engineering teams. Product managers can have different levels of expertise based on their experience (associate, junior, senior etc). While small startups usually have one product manager, bigger companies can have multiple managers with different seniority levels.
  • Product owner: Product owners focus on the detailed execution of the product vision provided by product managers. It's a hands-on role that helps manage the development team's backlog and task prioritization.
  • Business analysts: They gather and analyze product requirements by doing competitive analysis and analyzing the market. However, at the end of the day, product managers decide what they're going to do with the data provided by the analysts.
  • Technical lead: This is a person with technical knowledge who makes sure that the product's architecture can support its requirements. They work closely with software development teams and monitor them.
  • Product marketing manager: Their role is to determine positioning and messaging and develop a go-to-market strategy.

Product management skills

If you want to be a good product manager, you should develop the following product management skills:

  • Product management principles understanding (learning about product management frameworks and methodologies)
  • Organizational skills (although they're not project managers, product managers should also develop a certain level of project management skills necessary for the organization and coordination of different teams)
  • Excellent communication skills (and adjusting your approach when talking to different audiences such as executives, stakeholders, developers, marketers etc.)
  • Business and economic skills (understanding financial concepts, budgeting, doing cost vs benefit analysis, etc.)
  • Data analytics (product managers must be data-driven in their decisions and know how to analyze data)
  • Technical skills (product managers do not have to be developers, but technical knowledge is a bonus because it helps product managers understand the product development process and effectively communicate with engineers)

Also read: Should Product Managers Know How to Code?

  • Decision-making and prioritization (prioritizing features, customer feedback and requests and making strategic decisions)
  • Leadership skills (inspiring and motivating different teams to work toward the same goal)
  • Product management tools use (product managers should be tech-savvy and know how to use different tools for market research, analytics, project management, wireframing, etc.)

Product management process & stages

These are the main stages of a product management lifecycle:

  1. Idea management: In the initial stage, the product team gathers and validates different product ideas to decide which one to implement.
  2. Specification: Once the idea is chosen, you should create product specifications outlining:
  1. Prioritization: In this stage, your team should prioritize features that should be built first, based on their impact and effort. There are many product prioritization frameworks you can use, such as impact/effort matrix, RICE, Kano, MoSCoW and others.
  2. Roadmap creation: You should create a graphic document, outlining all the steps that should be taken to get to where you want to be (from building a prototype to a product launch) and showing how you plan to get there.
  3. Development: In this stage, developers build the actual product. The product team may still oversee or manage product development, but engineers are the ones doing most of the work. This is the final stage before your product launches to its target market.
  4. Launch: This is the stage in which the product team collaborates the most with marketing and sales to create a successful launch campaign and attract new users.
  5. Analysis: Once you've launched the product (or its beta version or MVP) you should observe how people use it and see whether there's a need to modify something or add new features.
  6. Customer feedback collection: Finally, you want to collect feedback and see whether the product is solving users' pain points effectively. There are multiple ways to get feedback, such as user interviews and in-app surveys.

How can product management tools help?

It's hard to imagine leading a product management team without online tools. There are different tools for gathering feedback, prioritization, collaboration, analytics, creating roadmaps, etc. But before you panic thinking you'll have to get ten different tools, let us introduce you to our centralized platform for product management.

Zeda.io is an AI-powered customer feedback platform that helps you with product ideation and continuous product discovery by capturing and analyzing user feedback. Here's what you get in one platform:

  • Centralized feedback: Zeda.io can automatically capture feedback from customer conversations across various platforms and channels (Slack, Gong, Zendesk, Intercom and others) and centralize it, making it easier to analyze.
  • AI product management: Zeda.io uses AI and ML to help you analyze customer feedback and their sentiment, discover product opportunities and even validate product ideas. These features improve your efficiency and free up to 90 hours your team can use for more important things, such as creating product strategy.
  • Roadmaps: With Zeda.io, you can create impact-based roadmaps, either from scratch or by using our templates. Our roadmaps can help you maximize your revenue impact.
  • Prioritization: Our built-in prioritization frameworks will help you decide which features to prioritize based on data and their potential impact.
  • Integrations: Zeda.io integrates with hundreds of other tools, such as Slack, Intercom, Teams, Salesforce and more making sure you can manage customer- and product-related data in one place.

Whether you're just starting to build a product or want to improve your existing product management process, you can try our platform for free.

Product management 101: Where to learn more 💡

Here are some great resources for getting started with product management or improving your skills:

  • Product management courses: Product Management Foundations by Reforge, Product Management Certification by Product School, Product Management 101 by Todd Birzer
  • Product management books: The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen, The Influential Product Manager by Ken Sandy, Escaping the Build Trap by Melissa Perri
  • Product management conferences: Product Con, Product World, Product-led Summit and many more. Click here to discover the dates and locations of product management conferences in 2024.
  • Product management podcasts: The Product Podcast, This is Product Management, Product Talk, Product People

For more info, check out these additional resources for product management.

Conclusion

As you can see, the product manager's job is complex and varies from phase to phase. From ideation to execution, they're responsible for communicating with key stakeholders and making sure everything runs smoothly.

But complex doesn't need to mean difficult, especially now when there are tools to help you. Zeda.io guides you through creating a strategy, planning and improving your products, thanks to its built-in frameworks.

With the help of AI, you'll be able to automate the collection and analysis of customer feedback so you can focus on building features your users will actually love. We also have a ton of resources that will help you learn everything you need about product management along the way.

Sign up today and get a 14-day free trial.

FAQs

What are the 7 stages of product management?

These are the stages of the product management process: idea management, specification, prioritization, roadmap creation, development and launch, analysis and customer feedback collection.

What are the 3 major areas of product management?

Product management covers many areas, but the three most important ones are strategy, execution and analysis.

What are the 6 Ps of product management?

Persona, problem or pain point, product, price, placement or positioning and promotion.

What is agile product management?

Agile product management is more flexible than traditional product management – it's based on iterative processes, adaptability and implementing customer feedback in all stages of the product development process. It consists of short development cycles called sprints and collaborating with cross-functional teams.

What is a product management framework?

A product management framework acts as a guide that leads product teams through the processes of planning, developing, launching and improving products. It helps product managers systemize the product management process, maintain consistency and improve efficiency.

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