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MANAGING THE BUSINESS OF SOFTWARE

Maybe We Should Be Problem Managers

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One of the great things about product management is touching every part of the company. We work with sales and marketing, development and support, professional services and finance. And sometimes we see an internal problem—one team doesn't know what another group is doing or relevant product information isn't reaching the right people.

If you see something, say something.

No, actually, if you see something, DO something.

As much as product managers need to be expert on the problem, inherent in the job is the need to be expert on processes too—especially internal disconnects. Understanding how customers get from web information to a sales opportunity to contract. Understanding how customer support tickets turn into feature requests. More than departmental processes, product managers (and product marketing managers) see inter-departmental problems.

I advise product management to drive process retrospectives beyond the development team. Look at what's working and what's not in every step from idea to market.

I advise product marketing to drive win/loss analysis. From examining a few customer interviews, you'll see patterns of problems. A customer didn't know your product performed a critical function or your web site didn't explain a key element that drove a buyer decision. More thanproduct problems, win/loss analysis will showprocess problemsin marketing and sales.

Maybe we have the title wrong. Instead of product manager, product owner, and product marketing manager, maybe we should be problem managers. We should find product and process problems. And let other groups focus on what they do best: solving market and customer problems.

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Maybe We Should Be Problem Managers

One of the great things about product management is touching every part of the company. We work with sales and marketing, development and support, professional services and finance. And sometimes we see an internal problem—one team doesn't know what another group is doing or relevant product information isn't reaching the right people.

If you see something, say something.

No, actually, if you see something, DO something.

As much as product managers need to be expert on the problem, inherent in the job is the need to be expert on processes too—especially internal disconnects. Understanding how customers get from web information to a sales opportunity to contract. Understanding how customer support tickets turn into feature requests. More than departmental processes, product managers (and product marketing managers) see inter-departmental problems.

I advise product management to drive process retrospectives beyond the development team. Look at what's working and what's not in every step from idea to market.

I advise product marketing to drive win/loss analysis. From examining a few customer interviews, you'll see patterns of problems. A customer didn't know your product performed a critical function or your web site didn't explain a key element that drove a buyer decision. More thanproduct problems, win/loss analysis will showprocess problemsin marketing and sales.

Maybe we have the title wrong. Instead of product manager, product owner, and product marketing manager, maybe we should be problem managers. We should find product and process problems. And let other groups focus on what they do best: solving market and customer problems.