MANAGING THE BUSINESS OF SOFTWARE

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Advice for getting into product management

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Product management is an exciting role. It can drive product direction and ensure your team builds the right product for the market. It can also be a frustrating job because other departments have expectations of product management that rarely align with yours.

What do you need to get started in product management?

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Competitive battle cards

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Product leaders and marketing managers learn a great deal about the competition as part of their daily interactions with customers and with sales people. The Competitive Battle Card is a digest of all you’ve learned... so your sales people are armed with the latest intel. The real challenge for those composing a battle card is not the formatting or the template but determine what information to put into it. 

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Creating ideal customer profiles

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You know the worst thing that can happen with a new product? You get some customers. Not none. Not a lot. Just a few. And now you have a bad idea that must be supported and maintained and explained.

To create the ideal buyer profile, we perform a customer profitability retrospective. From this, we can create a set of ideal customer profiles and align the company’s development, marketing, and sales programs around this ideal profile.

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Do product managers need to be technical?

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I’ve been hearing about job postings for product managers that require computer science degrees. Is that really necessary?

What I’ve learned is many product managers don’t have adequate technical background to understand the questions or to give practical answers.

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Do we need product management?

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People in product management roles—product managers, product owners, product marketing managers, and consultants—often talk about job responsibilities, methods, tools, and templates. We start from a presumption that product management is valued, and we focus on getting clarity on its mechanics. In a world of agile methods and lean startup and business pivot, aren’t the activities of product management already being done by someone? 

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Expertise in product management

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In recent years, we’ve seen new definitions for old titles and many new titles being created. We’ve got product managers, product marketing managers, product owners, business analysts, product strategists, product line managers, and portfolio managers.

There are four types of skills needed to define and deliver products to market. Which are you missing?

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Feed the product team using "pull"

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There are two approaches to delivering stories to your product team: pull and push. Typically, product managers and executives “push” more and more requests to the developers. In more practical terms, the product manager builds a long list of prioritized requirements, perhaps grouping them into themes or releases, and sends the developers a few hundred items at a time. This push approach has three negative effects.

 

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Product Management Job Descriptions

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The most common format I see for successful teams is comprised of three roles: strategic product manager, one or more technical product owners, and a market-facing product marketing manager. This organizational approach has the added benefit of being able to expand easily. 

What are common job titles and responsibilities for successful product management teams? 

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Quick prioritization

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Prioritization is a critical skill used for many of the items in your product playbook. The basic tenet of prioritization is to make a list of all the things you want to accomplish and order the list based on value.

We don’t want the product team cherry-picking the list for easy stuff or fun stuff. We always want them working on the most important thing. And we don’t want product managers and product owners just guessing; we want to know that this is more important than that.

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When the product is YOU

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Have you been out there lately? Hunting for that perfect job is both easier and harder than ever before. You don’t have to be restricted to your nearest big city... but other candidates don’t either. Networking is easier but, alas, everyone’s network is bigger than before.

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Your first days… as product manager

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You’re in your first days as a product manager. There’s so much to do. Where to begin? Before the demands of others overwhelm you, you need to prepare yourself to be the business and market liaison to the product team. Your role as a product manager or product owner is to make the best business decisions for the product, working from the best available information.

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