Product planning cycle and the role of product managers through it!
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The role of a product manager is more crucial to a product. Product manager’s involvement doesn’t stop with just planning the development of the product; it goes way beyond that. To take it step by step;
- Idea board
- Risks and challenges
- Beta (New)
- Marketing and promotion
The 8 step planning might sound simple, but it falls in the roles each working on the product plays. Product manager’s role doesn’t stop with just the plan and execution of the development plan but travels until the product expires from the market, which is years for selling a product.
This is where the ideas are born. The idea board is a group activity comprising of people from different teams and domain expertise, talking about how the market looks and what could be the next best thing. Everyone pitches their ideas. These can be well thought out one running at the back of the head for a long time or ones that have sprung up at the moment. The product manager will act as the host, commonly known as the Scrum master, enabling the execution.
Sometimes more than one ideas get combined to form a product idea that the team feels can kill the market. Another word to this session is the product discovery workshop! My favorite activity in the planning phase.
Remembering that all ideas are great and not being partial to the idea proposed by them. A mistake made by many that have cost a good product.
The Scrum Master takes the idea board, now filled with ideas and the final idea that is going to be built.
Analyzing the competitors gives a high-level overview of the market value and market fit.
Identifying who the target customers and industries would be.
Filtering the target audience and industry and evaluating the value that lies for the product in that industry.
The identity that the product needs to stand out from the competitors. Remember that, no competitor might mean the industry is not thriving, and too many competitors mean stronger USP required.
USP - This is very crucial as the product needs to stand out, and the USP will define why customers should buy this product over others.
User research is a crucial part, which involves interaction with the users who will likely be the customers. Asking the right questions to them like,
How will the solution help them?
How much of use will the product be on a daily basis?
What problem will it solve majorly?
What will be good to use on the product?
Will they choose this over the competitor product?
These are some of the questions, but there could be more. Asking this around while the team is getting ready to build the product is the actual groundwork for the product.
Risks and challenges:
Before jumping into development, the Scrum master has to sit down with the team and identify all the possible risks that may arise. This can be anything from the project being dropped or the servers shutting down or even one of the team members leaving the project. Along with this, analyze the challenges that will come along the way.
Now, start planning a precautionary book for all the listed risks and challenges. Get the team to be aware of all these steps and scenarios as well. This is the responsibility of the master.
Though the product manager doesn’t involve in the direct development, overlooking it like,
- Making sure the product roadmap is being followed correctly and matches with the research statement and plans we have made.
- The timeline and allocated resources meet the need
- Identifying whether any pivots are needed in the product roadmap
- Demo of the module deliverables
- Checking if the deliverables are matching with the planned and working smoothly.
Every module will need adjustments and improvements at the completion of the previous module/phase. This has to be owned up by the product manager.
This is a new step in the product cycle, based on the millennial trend. Listing the product or allowing the product to be beta tested by the users will allow in shaping up the product better. Putting the product out there in the market for people to sign-up or beta test the product and pass along their comments. This was, you can get an idea of how the product will be received when the launch takes place.
The product manager here will monitor how the product performs in the beta market and works on the launch of the product, marketing plan, and the promotion for the product to hit the market.
Marketing and promotions:
The marketing team curates the promotion plan, but the product manager has the responsibility of passing on the inputs from the research like the target audience, target industry, competitors analysis, and the USP. These are the selling points that can be promoted. Besides, if there are testimonials of users from the beta list, one can add that as well.
The product manager enables the marketing team to promote by providing content and information about the product.
The sales cycle is huge; there will be a lot of to and fro between the executives and the customers. Here the product manager has to interact with the sales team to help them close the deal. This involves in a lot of ways,
- Meeting the requirements of the customer
- Product roadmap (future updates)
- Tech stats
- The extent to which the product can help
- Identifying how the product works in the customer’s industry or company exclusively.
- Customizations, if required.
The communication, evaluation, planning, and decision making based on the requests by the customer conveyed by the sales team has to be done by the product manager and overlook the execution of the decision.
The work doesn’t stop there. Constantly the marketing team analyses the metrics and competitor performance in the metric. But it is also the product manager’s responsibility to monitor how the features are appreciated in the market and, iterate and plan the roadmap of the product to meet the need.
This can include pivots, improvisations, and letting go of features in the product. Sometimes the hardest of the decision has to be made, despite the efforts that went in.
Maybe this seems like a lot, but it is the entire cycle of the product, and the journey of the manager is alongside it. Documenting all this in one single place will act as the ultimate guide of the product for anyone who wishes to know the product. Now, there might be a lot of similarities between the project manager role and