I’m going to admit it up front; I really like both the word and the concept of “productization.” Love to “productize” things. To me, it speaks to making something the best that it can, using the core techniques of product management. These techniques can be applied to (almost) anything and used to manage and enhance that “thing.”
My thesis applies to your daughter’s annual Girl Scout cookie sale, your corporate staff department or your book club. It can be applied to every service your company offers. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO and one of the Silicon Valley’s breed of new talent, did just that in her 13-year career at Google; methodically productizing Google’s portfolio of services into industry leaders and building that company into a powerhouse. Maybe you can do this at your company?
Still not convinced? Let’s go a little deeper. Here are some specific elements of basic product management techniques that can help in a wide range of situations.
Finding what and where the opportunity is. Product managers might refer to this as “market assessment.” Does the market have a need for what we are providing? Is there an opportunity to differentiate the product or go to market with a superior design and gain market share? While these concepts sound like “business buzzwords” to the layman, they are real questions that should be addressed about every outgoing entity.
Create a product roadmap. A product roadmap for a 4-person accounting department might sound crazy to some, but it’s not. It’s a good way to set goals for improvement and upgrade of skills to meet customer’s needs better, etc.. Even the Girl Scout Cookie example can use a roadmap; looking at the sales as a three-year project that you want to get better at each year likely yields a whole different mindset and strategy than just getting it done and off your plate ASAP. What if your daughter is the one who maintains and grows an email list of interested customers and communicates with them regularly with attractive emails or accepts credit cards and PayPal as payment. It’s all quite easy to do.
Understanding requirements. The product manager is the customer’s advocate within a business. They need to understand the needs of the customer inside and out. Every product, service, business or institution can gain by understanding their customers’ requirements better than their competitors. How do your Girl Scout Cookie customers want to order, pay for and receive their Thin Mints?
Monitor product performance to goal. Metrics and analyzing results are a big part of what product managers do. It’s an important part of this concept as well. How do you determine the success or failure of a venture or project? You create ways to monitor performance and create goals for the resulting performance gauges, then compare. As you drill down from there, the numbers show you where to spend your time improving the product for maximum positive effect.
As I like to say, there is “some there there” on this productization idea. I hope it turns into a movement; long live those who productize. Each of us can learn from watching what product managers do and applying the same techniques to your world. Start now!
What aspects of product management do you already use in your world? What unique situations can you see product management techniques being helpful?
You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/
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