Your product management team is the backbone of your product development activities, whether you manufacture physical goods, produce hardware, or develop software. The members of your product management teams are essential for keeping everyone collaborating effectively to create great products.
While every company that creates products has a product management team, the size of that team will vary depending on the complexity of the product. Whether your organization uses stage-gate, agile, or hybrid methodologies may also influence which roles are on your product management team.
The Responsibilities of the Product Management Team
The product management team has a long list of responsibilities. Here are just some of the main tasks they’re involved with to ensure their products are successful.
Creating the Product Strategy
The product management team is responsible for defining the overall product vision and ensuring it aligns with the company's overarching goals. These teams are also responsible for creating the product strategy that will help guide all stakeholders involved in developing the product.
Conducting Market Research
Product management team members will conduct regular market analyses to stay informed on trends and find opportunities. They’ll also gather customer feedback, often working with customer success teams, to interview, survey, or poll customers.
Facilitating Cross-Functional Collaborations
A product management team never works alone. They will collaborate with developers, designers, engineers, marketers, and sales teams while reporting to stakeholders, investors, and executives. Cross-functional teams also require alignment across departments, a responsibility that also falls on the product management team. The product roadmap and other communication tools are part of the solution to keep everyone aligned.
Choosing features for a product is a process that requires systematic scoring of ideas, followed by a decision-making process that is led by the product management team. Once the ideas are prioritized according to the chosen method, the product management team will clearly define the product features and requirements involved. From there, the product owner or product manager will create user stories for the development team. The development team in turn can then provide solutions to satisfy those features and requirements and cost it.
Planning and Managing the Product Roadmap
Product managers and their teams are responsible for planning and creating the product roadmap. Most organizations use product roadmap management software that all stakeholders have access to and can follow for product success. It’s on the roadmap where product teams will track and measure KPIs, set milestones, and prioritize features and releases based on the strategic product goals.
As part of creating roadmaps, first product managers have to define the features and prioritize them. Different methods exist in prioritizing features. But they all mainly come down to assessing the value the features bring against the cost or effort it takes to build it.
Another important responsibility of the product management team is product release management. When products are ready for the market or a new feature is ready to launch, there is a lot of planning and coordination involved. Product managers will work with other departments to ensure the replacement process is on track and that timelines are met.
Managing Product Risk
In addition to being heavily involved in product scope, definition, strategy, and release dates, the product management team is also concerned with risk management. It’s their role to identify and mitigate risk with any of their products. They’ll also create contingency plans and have a strategy to adapt to unforeseen challenges, such as sudden market shifts, supply chain issues, new regulations, and other surprises.
Product Lifecycle Management
Creating the product is just one portion of the product’s lifecycle. Product management teams are involved with the product for the entire lifecycle, from introduction to phasing out. They’re required to make decisions on updates, product enhancements, or discontinuation of the product.
Tracking and Analyzing Metrics
Tracking and measuring key metrics is important to knowing whether a product performs well or the strategy needs to change. The product management team is responsible for identifying the key metrics to pay attention to and then tracking and analyzing them. Tracking and measuring product performance can help your teams spot problems, such as market saturation.
Structuring Your Product Management Team
Every company is different in terms of its size, the number of products, and the scale of the business. This also means there is no single solution for structuring your product management team. Complex products will require more people to manage the moving pieces, even if the company is limited to national operations. A software company with a global team and market may need fewer product managers due to the smaller scale of the product.
Your company's product development methodology will also impact your team's structure. For example, companies using the Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) will typically have larger teams than a software company using the Scrum methodology. Here are just some of the job titles that you may already have in your company or may be looking to include as you scale:
- Chief Product Office (CPO)
- VP of Product Management
- Product Manager
- Product Owner
- Associate Product Manager
Product Team Structures to Consider
While product management teams oversee and manage product development, they also work closely with other departments. These cross-functional teams can be organized in different ways, depending on the focus. Here are a few common examples of how companies might align their product teams.
According to the Product or Product Line
Large companies with several product lines may organize their product development teams according to each product line.
According to a Product Feature or Component that Evolves
Companies with complex products may organize teams according to the features or domains, with a product manager or chief product officer overseeing the entire development process and ensuring cohesion.
By Cross-Functional Collaboration
Organizations that use agile development teams will organize their product teams into smaller groups based on cross-functional collaboration on a particular product. They’ll involve a product owner or product manager, a scrum master, developers, and quality assurance and could include subject matter experts too.
By Customer Segment
Brands that target several customer segments may align different product teams to each customer segment. It is then the role of the product manager to ensure their product line delivers products that match their target customer.
By Customer Journey Stage
Product development teams may also focus on a particular customer journey stage. For example, with software, a product manager may focus on the customer’s first experience with a product, focusing on the onboarding and learning curve aspects of the product. Another team might focus on the churn rate and continued use of the product, ensuring updates are planned for and introduced to stay competitive.
According to Performance Metrics
Companies with mature products may organize their product management teams by performance metrics. Each product leader takes ownership of a specific KPI and product goals. They’ll then work across products to improve results and performance.
Great Product Managers Deserve Great Tools
Product managers and their teams need the right tools to do their work efficiently and effectively. The tools used can make a huge difference in communication, analysis, and product management, from building a product roadmap to managing the product backlog to prioritizing features. Gocious product roadmap management software does just that. Book a free demo to see how Gocious software can serve your product management teams.