5 Product Management Principles Every Product Manager Should Know
Product management principles are essential because they:
- Guide decision-making to ensure that the product’s development trajectory is aligned with the goals and values of the organization
- Foster accountability within the team for the quality of their work and the impact of their decisions
- Ensure customer focus to keep your users at the center of your product management process at every stage of the product lifecycle
- Encourage collaboration by providing a collective understanding of the product and emphasizing the importance of each team member
- Promote ethical behavior by helping the product team become more empathetic towards each other, their customers, and stakeholders
In this article, let’s look at five principles that will help you improve your product management approach.
1. Understand and remember the “Why”
The “why” of the product is one of the most important questions you and your team need to answer before putting pen to paper. Understanding the reason and motivation behind the product will help you visualize the solution and its intended effect on its users.
This product management principle emphasizes the importance of talking to your potential users to learn about their pain points and expectations from an ideal solution. The product's " why " can often be rewritten as the product’s mission statement.
Developing a shared understanding of the “why” will make your product management process simpler at all levels — from soft-testing ideas to prioritizing tasks on the sprint backlog. Furthermore, you will never be at crossroads while determining whether a feature/initiative needs to be added to the product roadmap.
For example, Zeda.io’s mission statement (the “why”) is to empower Product Managers to build better products with our comprehensive software for product development and lifecycle management.
So if you are a product manager at Zeda.io, all you need to think about while prioritizing features is whether that feature is contributing towards the mission statement. Apart from making your decision-making process efficient, this also helps you effectively avoid feature creep.
The best way to determine the “why” behind the product is to talk with your users to understand their problems and how it affects their lives. You can create surveys and questionnaires to develop a deeper understanding of your users’ problems.
Zeda.io brings user feedback from multiple tools to one place allowing you to quickly develop an understanding of the “why” of your product.
2. Focus on the outcomes
One of the most important product management principles is to deliver a solution to your users profitably. Regardless of the industry and target audience you serve, that is your end goal.
By adopting that product management principle to your entire process, you can quantify your progress and, consequently, measure it. Although outcomes have an abstract definition such as “making users happy”, they can be measured by focusing on the right product management metrics.
Broadly, you need to focus on two kinds of metrics — business and product-performance metrics.
The business performance metrics such as average revenue per user (ARPU), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and monthly recurring revenue (MRR) help you know whether the product’s current state and development trajectory are in line with the company’s goals.
Similarly, the product performance metrics such as retention rate, daily active users (DAU), and net promoter score (NPS) help you know whether you have understood your users’ pain points and expectations accurately.
Always consider the uniqueness of your product and business plan because it decides which metrics are ideal for measuring your outcome. For instance, if you have a travel app, DAU may not be the best product performance metric since your users won’t use it every day.
3. Empower your team to solve problems
Following this product management principle involves trusting your team members to do their job, holding them accountable, getting out of their way, and eliminating bottlenecks during decision-making in the product management process.
As the world of product management and the industry you serve continues to evolve with new technologies and trends, it is important to respond quickly to the changing needs and expectations of your customers. However, it can be difficult to be that agile when every decision of your team goes through the product manager.
One of the key responsibilities of a product manager is to guide the overall process, ensure the product is aligned with the business objectives, and help the product team when they need it.
Product managers can follow this lean product management principle by making all the product data available to the team and consequently equipping them with the necessary information they need to make the right calls at each stage.
Zeda.io’s collaborative product space makes it easier for PMs to bring data from various sources such as Data Studio and Mixpanel to their team:
Other ways in which product managers can empower their teams are by encouraging honest and actionable communication among the team members and implementing the team’s feedback to make the product management process more efficient.
4. Empathize with your stakeholders
Stakeholders are individuals or groups that direct the product’s development and help the product team make the product more successful and profitable. They can be developers, designers, senior managers, and marketing professionals.
It is important to bring all the stakeholders on one page for the smooth development of the product. Whether it is sprint planning, budget allocation, product pricing, and feature prioritization, the collective agreement is crucial for the agility of the process.
PMs can adopt this product management guiding principle by helping every stakeholder put the users at the center of the process and the product team around it.
The first step to achieving this is that as a product manager, you must take ownership of your negative emotions. Working with stakeholders when you are flustered or irritated can affect your relationships in general, and the product management process in particular.
The second step is to always reflect before sharing feedback. It is a good practice to say your feedback to yourself and analyze it to see whether it can be misinterpreted. While sharing feedback, keep it about the work rather than the person and if you are offering some criticism, do it in private.
The third and final step is to become a coach for your product team. The role of a coach (PM) depends on the requirements of your users and the challenges faced by your product team. Encourage your team to give you constructive feedback about work and ask for help whenever you need it.
5. Learn, iterate, repeat
The product management process has a lot of moving parts — the users, the niche, the stakeholders, the frameworks, etc., which makes it exciting and challenging. This product management principle helps PMs deal with the challenges of the role effectively by adopting a learner’s mindset.
Things will always go wrong, new product requirements will always emerge, and disagreements will continue to happen. You can, however, successfully deal with all of that by iterating your approach through continuous learning.
For instance, if a sprint goes on for longer than expected, you can follow this product manager principle to examine what went wrong and where. Perhaps you should have assigned tasks differently, or maybe the tasks required more time than initially thought; this will allow you to successfully modify your product management process.
To maximize learning and minimize loss throughout the product management process for you and your team, you can create minimum viable products (MVPs) to test your hypotheses before committing to a feature.
Open discussions about feature ideas and initiatives are another great way to gain more insights about your users and improve collaboration.
You can use Zeda.io to create user flows to soft-test each other’s ideas:
Zeda.io also allows you to create wireframes and get feedback from stakeholders in one place to make your designing process simpler:
Product management principles help teams develop a product according to its mission while upholding the company’s values. Here are five product management principles that every product manager should adopt:
- Understand and remember the “why” behind the product
- Focus on the outcome you wish to have while prioritizing features
- Empower your team to take make decisions by giving them the right tools and data
- Empathize with your stakeholders through open communication
- Always learn from your wins and losses and iterate accordingly
It is also crucial for product teams to have the right tools that help them put the above principles to practice and build a product that their users love.
Zeda.io is a super app for product teams that allows them to run and manage their product at all stages of its lifecycle. You can use its native features or bring your existing tools there through integrations.
- What are the product principles?
Answer: Product principles are core organizational values that help product teams work better, build useful products, and improve ROI while achieving organizational goals.
- What are the pillars of product management?
Answer: The pillars of product management are the fundamental concepts that build the process. The three pillars of product management are discovery, planning, and development.
- What are the basic principles of product management?
Answer: The five principles of product management are:
- Understanding the “why” behind the product
- Becoming outcome-based
- Empowering your team to operate autonomously
- Empathizing with stakeholders
- Learning and applying those lessons
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