Common Sense Into Common Practice

Egress Solutions Product & Innovation Management Blog

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Posts by Mike Smart

Should You Hire or “Grow” Your Next Product Management Leader?

Perhaps your VP of Products has decided to join a hot startup or you just realized that it’s time for your product management group to have its own seat at the leadership table. Regardless of the circumstance, you find yourself in need of a product management leader.

You can picture who you want to step into this role:

  • someone in sync with the company vision and goals
  • an effective leader who will focus the product management team
  • someone who can earn the respect of development
  • a professional who really gets product management
  • they know it is also a market facing role and won’t let the team get bogged down in countless meetings

So how do you get from here to there? Should you hire or “grow” your next product management leader?

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The ABCs of Win-Loss Analysis

As we discussed in our recent post How to Quantify the Return on Product Management, it’s essential for product management teams to focus on market-sensing activities. How do customers and prospects view your solutions relative to the competition? What are the most important factors in their decision? Who is involved?

A golden opportunity to gain insight is right after a customer or prospect chooses to buy or not buy. But it’s not as simple as just asking a new customer why your company won, or asking the sales rep why you lost. To pan the gold out of the wins and losses happening every day, you’ll need a carefully planned and executed win/loss analysis program.

Maximizing the Benefits of Your Win/Loss Analysis Program

Your program should consist of 4 main steps – prepare, survey, interview, and analyze. Because your sales team won’t be excited about this (you know it’s true) and not every customer/prospect will take part, your approach needs to maximize participation and extract the most value from each interview. Here is how to do that.

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How to Quantify the Return on Product Management

Do you ever feel like you have a target on your back? If you’re a product executive, especially with product management responsibility, you’ve felt the pressure to justify the existence of you and your team at some point. Sure, you can talk to the executive team about efforts underway to define the MVP, groom the product backlog and prioritize features for the next release. But they want something more concrete from you – a clear connection between the investment in your team and the top line or the bottom line results.

It may be tempting to jump to your product or product line P&L to justify staffing compensation, return on investment, contribution margin and productivity… However, this can be a big mistake if you haven’t laid the proper foundation and set expectations with your co-leaders and your team.

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Market segmentation: 5 signs you're doing it right

Many of us in the field of technology product management are so familiar with market segmentation principles that we take them for granted. In fact, I would bet that many of you respond to the topic with a big yawn. So, you might be surprised to learn that we have found that too many product managers don't go far enough with segmentation to get the results they need to grow their business.

We've all seen the analyst reports that estimate that a particular market size is huge and growing. Typically, these markets are defined in lofty and large terms that are perfectly fine for journalists and bloggers to quote in their posts, but inadequate for those of us responsible for making decisions about product features, pricing and go-to-market strategy.

You won't be alone if you have relied on an analyst's market definition to frame your target market segment. Frankly, thorough and thoughtful market segmentation requires effort and time. It isn't a trivial exercise. Even if you believe that your segmentation is as complete as it can be, read on to learn how we suggest you test it just to be certain.

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Tip-Toeing Towards Maturity

"Are Roadmaps Obsolete? Product Roadmaps in Highly Iterative Environments"

Join me on Pragmatic Live!

Wednesday March 18th  at 1:00 PM Eastern

 

I am deeply passionate about the role of product management and the intrinsic value good product management teams can provide to a company. However, I also have to accept the truth that product mangers as a group are not the game changers, nor the market makers, they could be.

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Portfolio Management: Important, but Not Urgent...Yet

Product Portfolio management is one of those important but not urgent activities that we never seem to have time to do. It is often thought of as an academic exercise; however, good product managers and product team leaders know it should be done, but struggle to organize the effort. If they take the initiative, the activity can unravel very quickly into an over heated debate about which products should be in what quadrant and why.

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Market Discovery: Obtaining Value From Small Sample Size Research

Product managers often rely too heavily on very narrow views of market input to decide what features are built into a new product or new release. While the usual stakeholders, including executive and existing customers, deserve to be heard, product managers often over correct their input results in product releases that only satisfy a very small group of potential buyers.

Meanwhile, competitors seem to fluidly introduce new products, releases and ideas that gain acceptance immediately with higher adoption targets. It’s not luck.

The competition isn’t inherently smarter and it’s not because its product teams are smaller (or larger). They simply throw away more ideas than they build.

You can do the same with market discovery, a technique that provides a bigger and better pipeline of market problems, new market opportunities and a method to validate them.

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Better Together!


Software companies of all sizes are relying on acquisitions to fuel growth as opposed to relying on organic growth. Consequently, product managers and product team leaders are being tasked with the role of product portfolio integrator. These teams must be mindful—even vigilant—about their existing product portfolio gaps since acquired products or companies rarely fit perfectly into the existing portfolio.

As these companies continue to rely on acquisitions to address increased growth demand and product gaps, product managers and team leaders must move the portfolio management and integration activities from an afterthought to on-going product management hygiene.

These days when I talk to product managers and product team leaders about their product strategy, a growing number of them understand that the principle engine for their sustained product growth and the most expedient way they will close gaps in the portfolio comes through an acquisition.

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Product Managers, Keep Your Channel Partners Happy

Some product managers will look at this title and ask, “So what does this have to do with product managers and our roles?” Read on and find out why your role and actions can impact a successful channel program and increase the adoption of your product(s).

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Why Peer Review is Integral to Product Management

Although some may believe peer review is a practice reserved for academic or scientific communities, I believe it is a valuable tool in product management.

Peer review is about quality—a structured approach to understanding whether or not your ideas fall into the category of worthwhile, meaningful or correct, and the benefit of colleagues evaluating product requirements and definitions.

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