Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 4)


I received a number of requests for the “20 page document” mentioned in part 3 of this series, that defines the activities in the Product Management Deliverables grid. (see below)

pmdeliverables2.jpg(click to enlarge)

After some thought, I’ve decided not to simply post that document in the blog or email it out to people. It is a document that represents the implementation of the product management function at a particular company where I used to work. Looking through the document, it would take me a couple of hours to clean it up, remove any company specific content and make it presentable to a general audience.

While I could do that, I’ve decided to share parts of the document, and provide all readers with enough detail that should enable you to create a similar document particular to the Product Management function in your company. i.e. teach you to fish vs. give you a fish. 🙂

For starters, here’s a portion of the table of contents of the document.

ISC TOC(click to enlarge)

Processes
I begin by discussing the concept of tightly-coupled and loosely-coupled processes.

Tightly-coupled processes are the type one typically associates with product development; ones with numerous dependent tasks, specific schedules, and resource allocations requiring ongoing status meetings to coordinate and execute. Examples of tightly-coupled processes include software development schedules and product launch activities.

Loosely-coupled processes are very different from tightly-coupled ones. In a loosely-coupled process, individual tasks are not as temporally dependent on one another as in tightly-coupled processes. Yes, the linkages and connections are there between tasks, but direct blocking issues are less frequent, and less ongoing coordination is needed than with tightly-coupled processes. But, this does not mean there aren’t dependencies. Think about how Product Management and Product Marketing must work together during a product release. Each have their own activities and deliverables, but there is also a dependency between them. The same is strue for how Product Marketing and Sales must work together.

A loosely-coupled process may consist of multiple teams of people working mostly independently on various tasks or projects. In fact, in many cases, a loosely-coupled process may consist of a number of individual tightly-coupled processes working more or less in parallel towards the same goal.

Most companies are well versed in managing and completing tightly-coupled processes. This is because the individual tasks can be clearly defined, dependencies identified, and significant ambiguity removed. There is also significant transparency into the activities of other teams. This transparency is a necessity when working in tightly coupled groups.

But, when it comes to loosely-coupled processes, companies have a lot of trouble managing them. The reasons for this are many, but in general it is because the interfaces between loosely coupled processes are poorly defined, the groups may have divergent short term goals, or that specific owners with both the responsibility and authority to ensure tasks crossover smoothly are not present. There is also little transparency in the tasks across groups, so the dependencies of tasks across groups is harder to track. In reality only the interface points, i.e. the truly dependent deliverables between the groups need to be identified and tracked.

Within the product development process, Product Management plays a key role in delivering (producing) key information to other teams (to consume) so those loosely coupled processes execute effectively.

Thus, clearly defining each Product Management deliverable , when it needs to be delivered, what it needs to contain, and who will use (consume) that deliverable is the first step in creating an effective product management process.

In my next installment, I’ll continue describing the contents of the document. I’ll introduce the concept of an Information Supply Chain, and how that drives the definition of the Product Management function.

Saeed

P.S. If you want to “read ahead”, watch or listen to this webinar I gave in 2007 about the Information Supply Chain.

The rest of the series
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 1)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 2)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 3)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 4)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 5)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 6)

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