13 February, 2017

Why Product Management

Just back from very enlightening workshop on product management by Institute of Product Leadership. What did I learn there?

Before I begin I felt that for any discussion on product management to make sense, one better mention first if the product is for enterprise customers (B2B) or for consumers (B2C). I believe role of product manager is somewhat different in these 2 cases. Here I assume products for enterprise customers.


You start with customers pain areas. Is there any unsolved problem that a customer and lot of other people like the customer are facing? Are they losing time in certain processes, do they lack tools that could help them make better decisions (Example: lots of data collection without actionable insights)? Does new technology/trend (Example: Moving a desktop app to webapp) provide 10x gain for them?
What can help company get more customers? happier customers? discover new markets? What are new trends that are changing business models? (Examples With smart phone adoption people book movie tickets online)

My personal technique to identify unsolved problem is to work with companies, people who have not use PCs before. Usually at such places a simple software can provide 10x benefits to the customer.

Pinkesh Shah suggested another angle about localizing global products for local context. Brainstorming sessions will lead to more product ideas.


Lot of interesting question were asked at the workshop about team. Can a team with IT services background develop product. That brings us to product design mindset.

Product Design Mindset

Prof. Pinkesh Shah said if customer asks the development team "Jump", then IT services team would say "How High". Product design mindset is where we ask Why? Why are we doing what are we doing? Is this going to be 10x better than current solution?


Product manager should delegate engineering decisions to team, provided they have matured in the product design mindset.

Marketing and Sales

To be successful at marketing and sales, team needs to have right combination of listening stills and killer instinct. Product manager of course works closely with marketing and sales organisation.

Product Life-cycle

Everyone is familiar with software design life-cycle models. Working on products imposes another life-cycle on the top of it.

Saying No

What do you do when existing customers asks for 10 new enhancement requests for next version? How do you prioritize without disturbing development plan with limited engineers.


Not discussed

Intellectual Property Protection

Not discussed

Trends and Opportunities

I wish panelists could spend more time discussing trends and opportunities. I firmly believe that chances of product success in real market depends on how big and willing the market is for the product. Many good product died because market was not ready for them. So discussion about market trends would have added lot of value.