• Jonathan Bullock

Four things every leader should understand from PMs




Product management and the how-to of it have been written about many times. The truth is, there is no exact right way to properly manage a product. There are a number of *wrong* ways though, including not having a PM function at all (Er… yes that happens!).


What is generally understood though is that it is never simple and requires a comprehensive approach if you are to be successful. In my own experience here are the key components to successful product management that non-product management functions should all understand.


Vision & Strategy


The first step for any product manager should be to define the vision and strategy of the product. The best place to start is with the company vision and strategy and adapt it to be appropriate for your product. After all, whether the company has a single product or many the product should be delivering toward the company’s vision.


Roadmaps & OKRs


If it isn’t already in place, then you need to implement some type of structured product roadmap approach and ensure that integrates with the cross-functional company OKRs. The needs for a roadmap and OKRs is that it transparently ensures all teams are on the same page and understand the short and mid-term priorities. They also give everyone a common language to describe the products, features and versions. Updating and evolving these should become a regular part of the product lifecycle.


Product Lifecycle


Managing the product lifecycle is the day-to-day for product managers. It includes managing the product roadmap, defining and monitoring product metrics, outlining a marketable release plan, defining sprint goals and then overseeing those sprints. Plus a million other things that PMs need to manage though the creation, release and evolution stages.


Product Backlog


Finally, product managers are responsible for the grooming and managing of the product backlog. This includes gathering requirements, engaging stakeholders and organising priorities for development. This product backlog is something that not just engineers should be involved in. Commercial groups should understand the product backlog and how it is being managed, including the trade-offs with respect to new feature development.


Effective product managers are talented multi-taskers. Managing the competing needs of many stakeholders while delivering on a consistent vision and strategy is a difficult task. Everyone should help PMs in their role by understanding these four foundations of their role in your company’s context.


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