Software product management. Where is it headed?
Are we moving toward futuristic technology like something out of The Jetsons? We sure hope so! That’ll be pretty cool.
But the best way to figure out where we’re headed is to take a look at where we are now.
Let’s take a look at some of the most cutting edge PM tools and processes.
To infinity, and beyond!
Software Product Management in a Nutshell
Let’s take a look at what, exactly, software product management is.
It is defined as the process of managing a software product throughout the various stages of its life cycle. This means taking a software product from development all the way to marketing and selling the product.
During the product management phase, it is the job of project managers to speak up for the market, meaning the customers. This is how product management is done in any industry. But it is even more important in the tech sector because new products are constantly emerging.
Because of the short lifespan of tech products, being familiar with what customers want becomes very important.
Effective product management happens at the intersection of business, user experience, and tech.
Product Management Skills
To manage a product effectively, there are a few things managers need to have a grasp on.
First up is Storytelling. Storytelling is becoming increasingly more important in every business of the modern age. This is because Storytelling and Branding are very close relatives. They’re almost the same.
With the rise of social media and a trend toward supporting companies with great branding/culture, storytelling is quickly becoming a powerful skill.
Another very important skill is marketing. No-brainer there. But where things differ in product management is there is a focus on weaving customer language into marketing campaigns.
We mentioned earlier how knowing customers is important. Especially in tech. This knowledge of customers’ needs and wants, and their persona, help product managers talk to customers in their own language.
Using this technique helps customers identify with what you’re offering more easily, and increases customer buy-in.
Finally, the third and most important skill, Empathy. This can include empathy for customers, as well as fellow members of the product team. This means developers, upper management, stakeholders, etc.
Marketing has always been an important skill. But Storytelling and Empathy are unique to the modern business world. Gone are the days where “cut-throat” executives would meet in a back room and plan how they were going to “manipulate” their customers.
Big companies like Ford, Coca Cola, and GM were able to do this back in the day because their voice only came to us through 2 channels: print and TV. Now, with the advent of social media and the internet, businesses have had to become more transparent out of necessity.
Because of this, product management teams are starting to see the power of transparency. This means transparency with customers, as well as the production team. The highest-functioning companies are creating an environment where everyone collaborates on a project.
There are no more disconnections between departments. Teams work together, regardless of what stage of the product cycle they specialize in.
Product Managers are being seen more and more as strategic leaders. Why? Well, they are a company’s “boots on the ground” when it comes to customers. They are constantly learning what the wants and needs of their customer base are.
People are asking for elegant, efficient, and user-friendly software more and more. In the industry, this is known as the “consumerization” of Tech. It’s no longer good enough to sit a customer down in front of an MS-DOS or Windows 3.1 computer and expect them to just figure it out.
We’ve been spoiled. Attractive user interfaces with fast and pleasant user experiences are the name of the game now.
In the past, product management was always the team left without any tools. Sales CRMs and marketing tools are commonplace, but product management teams were typically left with nothing. That is, until recently.
Productboard is an all-in-one tool that has been designed for modern-day product management. It is what many customer-first organizations are using to gain insights, manage data, and develop a product strategy. Using a synergistic tool like this helps everyone on the product team to get behind a central product vision.
Having tools like this is huge. It enables product managers to study customers, bring products to market faster, and make customers happier. Ultimate, that is the end result.
In addition to tools like Productboard, the idea of scrum software development has helped to further product development in the modern market. This is not so much a software tool, as a method for teams to work together.
Scrum software development is designed for small teams. The workload is broken down into time periods of a month or less called “sprints”. Each section of the team has goals they are responsible for completing within each sprint.
The most common length for spring is 2 weeks. Everybody working together on projects in short spurts in this way helps a team to be more agile way. To keep consistent with the “sprint” framework, scrum development teams meet daily for a 15-minute meeting called “daily scrums”.
At the end of each sprint window, the team looks back to reflect on how they did. Were targets met? Where can they improve? And so on. Structuring the team dynamic this way makes it much easier to keep up with the changing landscape of modern tech.
With products evolving so quickly, a quick and efficient form of software development like scrum is almost becoming a necessity.
What the Future Holds
New tools and methods are being developed for software product management every day it seems. With software, social media, and the internet being the main channels for conducting business, there will be no shortage of software product demands.
Add to that, the speed at which we’re doing business in the modern-day, and tools like Productboard and scrum software development become even more important.
You’ve heard it here first, and you’ve gotten in on Ground Zero. What other topics interest you in the tech space? Let us know in the comments.