Product Management Provides Structure!
I was reminded last week why product management is so important for organizations that are developing new products. Without a product management process, new product development can be a chaotic costly affair and ultimately lead to an expensive failure.
My first involvement in a product management process came about whilst trying to develop software within a large company. No one remembered exactly what features the software should have, there was a lot of tension in the team and it took a long time to pass quality assurance. Not a nice process.
Since then, every project I’ve worked on has had the following core product development milestones in place:
- Requirements – this addresses and frames what the project wants to develop.
- Specifications – define how the requirements will be met.
- Information Architecture – describes how the information and interaction points need to be defined throughout the product. Within the software world, this is usually accomplished through the use of mock-ups.
- Design – what will the final product look like.
- Test Plan – what tests need to be passed before the product is ready to be used.
This describes the core process that any organizations should go through when defining a new product or feature. It need not be a long or complicated process. Indeed, the complexity will be defined more by the organization and the complexity of the product or solution than the actual product management process itself.
It’s worth mentioning too that this list does not fully describe everything a product manager must do, notably market understanding and feature prioritization are missing. Yet, for any group that has no product management function, it’s a great place to start because it provides a logical structure to follow.