Product Strategy vs Product Management: What is the difference?

November 8, 2022
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Both Product Strategy and Product Management plays a critical role in influencing the success of a product. Let’s learn about their vital functions along with their key differences.

What is Product Strategy and Product Management?

Product Strategy means the process of planning and defining how and what you want to achieve with your product. It happens in the initial stages of product development where you decide the vision of the product and the approaches you need to take to achieve your vision. The first step is to define the ‘why’ of your product before ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how’. For a strong product strategy creation, you must understand the market you want to operate in.

Product Management means building, planning, and managing the activities governing the entire life cycle of a product. It revolves around the questions of ‘what to build’, ‘how to build’, and ‘how to position and price the product’. It is an ongoing process that does not end with the launch of a product into the market. Product management means continuous collections of opinions and the feedback of the stakeholders and customers to address them in the best possible way.

Importance of Product Strategy and Product Management

Both product strategy and product management are distinct processes critical for the successful life cycle of a product. Here is how both of them are important-

Product Strategy 

  • Product Strategy roles and responsibilities are developed to create a system of smooth and effective communication between the teams. It provides clarity for the company when different teams have a clear idea of their product strategy roles.
  • It paves the way for the product roadmap. Product strategy acts as a guiding light to build all the themes and activities of the roadmap.
  • A well-defined product strategy contributes to improving your team’s tactical decisions. It acts as a reference point to align all the activities of your team and guide them whenever there is any confusion.

Product Management

  • Product management is vital to fulfilling all the company's goals and vision. Product management involves a lot of activities that require proper coordination and alignment. It makes sure there is a common understanding of the goals and vision of all the team members so that the objectives are achieved accordingly.
  • Good product management will help to satisfy the customers and contribute to the goodwill, image, and reputation of the company.
  • Research and development are also an integral part of management. Through research new product can be introduced that caters to the needs of the customers.
  • Product management helps in the efficient use of capital and resources by minimizing the cost of production and enhancing the use of the resources to the fullest.

Difference Between Product Strategy and Product Management Processes

The process of product strategy is initiated by defining the vision of the product. It mostly focuses on winning the unpredictable and competitive forces of the market to ensure the product’s success. On the other hand, the process of product management is more detailed as it mainly focuses on continuous involvement of customers' feedback to improve and develop new features in the product. 

Product Strategy

Vision of Product Strategy

Vision

Product strategy is done in the early stages of product development when the idea of a product is first conceived. It lays the foundation of all the activities of the roadmap and for product management. The first step is to define the vision of the product. The vision should be clear and must be communicated to all stakeholders so that everyone can start planning relevant activities to achieve it.

Goals

To achieve the vision, strategic goals must be planned. This will help the team to prioritize activities to achieve the required goals and influence the activities of the roadmap. The goals should be clear and achievable.

Initiatives

Initiatives take you closer to the achievement of all your goals. They are strategic themes and actional tasks that are placed in the product roadmap based on goals.  

Product Management

Defining the problem

Defining the problem and the customers' pain points will give you an idea about what kind of product features you want to build to address those problems.

Focussing on solvable problems

There can be a lot of problems and pain points to address, but not all of them will be feasible for you to work upon. You have to identify and choose a few areas that you can work on considering all the resources available.

Researching potential solutions

The product manager along with the respective team members should test potential solutions that the product could address. These step also includes testing and validating the potential ideas.

Building an MVP

After validating a solution’s appeal, the development should engage to define and build the minimum set of functionality to be tested in the field.

Creating a feedback loop

A feedback loop is created so that the customers and all the stakeholders can provide valuable insight and feedback on the product. This will help you to understand the position of your product among the prospective customers.

Investing in product strategy

If the MVP is well received, it is now time to strategize activities for product improvement and market expansion. The strategy should be reasonable with achievable goals. This is also the step where KPIs or Key Performance Indicators should be developed.

Execution

The last and final step is to execute all the activities in coordination and alignment will the goals and objectives.

Product Managers Vs Product Strategists

Let us understand the distinct roles of product managers and product strategies in various situations.

Market Penetration

Product Managers' responsibility is to identify pain points and unmet needs of the customers through market research. Their main focus here is to build a product that caters to the customer’s need and give them satisfaction.

Product Strategists' responsibility is to identify opportunities and threats in the market by doing a competitive analysis. This includes keeping a check on competitors' activities and other market forces that could influence the performance of the product. 

Winning the market

Product Managers break through the market by 

  • Addressing the unmet needs of the customers successfully.
  • Addressing the met needs of the customers better than the competitors and in such a way that it even influences them to switch products.

Product Strategist wins the market by identifying and capturing opportunities. They may focus on-

  • How to sell things cheaper through strategic partnerships or complimentary revenue systems.
  • How to add value to the existing revenue or profits like entering new markets.

Scaling the product

Product Managers try to upscale by meeting and targeting the needs of a wider audience. Their main focus is to influence more and more consumers to try out their products.

Product Strategists on the other hand try to scale their solutions by improving their business models to outperform their competitors and continuously create new value.

Maintaining a competitive advantage in the market

Product Managers’ role does not only end with meeting the current needs and pain points of the customers. To maintain a competitive advantage in the market, they have to focus on developing new and complementary features to the ever-evolving needs of the customers which also means continuous market research and customer interaction.

Product Strategists find new ways to create and increase the value of the business by keeping a check on the market forces to maximize the chances of success and profits and minimize the chances of failures or losses.

Conclusion

We have tried to present a comprehensive overview of the key functionalities and differences in product strategies vs product management. Hope it helped. 

Both product strategy and product management play a crucial role in developing and managing a successful product. While product strategy has to do more with monitoring the market forces and strategic planning, product management is concerned with enhancing the value of the product for user satisfaction. If there is any misalignment between these two functions, the vision, and goals of your business can be compromised. Make sure there is transparency, clear communication, and coordination between these functions for maintaining efficiency and coherence.

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