Product Management moves into IT/IS departments?

The function and role of product management will become crucial as businesses expand and become more dependent on technology departments to asist them in gaining the competitive advantage.

But what is 'Technical Product Management'?

When asked to describe Product Management in one sentence Marty Cagan said:

"This is the person responsible for discovering and defining a
product that is useful, usable and feasible.”
Jeff Lash concurs by saying that the product manager is the person who:

“Understand customer needs, figure out ways to meet those
needs, work to get those solutions implemented, and provide and communicate
them to the market.”

Traditionally technical Product management is a role that has operated in software and technology companies. However the role is being successfully used in Information Technology/Information services departments (IT/IS dept).

How can 'Technical Product Management' help non technical businesses?

Paul Lancour in his podcast interview IT Product Management: An Art More Than a Science?with chief technologist Manuel Barbero discusses the art of product management in the IT organisation: I’ve listed 7 key points that Manuel brings out:
  1. Product Management is a combination of art and science to deliver products and value to a captive, internal, audience. (I’ve heard product managers described as being
    half engineer and half marketing manager hence half art and half science
  2. Structured discipline approach to defining and delivering solutions to an audience – that has not truly embraced in IT.
  3. It’s about selling solutions– not something traditionally done by IT management.
  4. Be able to define the feature set and understand how it will evolve over time.
  5. Know the price points and cost structure.
  6. Departments who want to implement product management need to find the right people who understand and appreciate technology and the needs of the businesses end users and
    commercial world.
  7. IT/IS dept who embrace product management need a product catalogue to describe the feature set and helps the success of the introduction of product management into IT organisations.
Case in point 'Technical Product Management' in the banking industry
At Wachovia Bank, Tony Bishop and his boss, CIO Susan Certoma, implemented product Management when they began to build a much needed SOA platform for financial services. According to Susan, Wachovia Bank

“…wanted technology to become an advisor to the business,
not an order taker,”
The article states that:

deploying an enterprisewide SOA is not just about developing and deploying
components and services — it’s about changing the DNA and culture of IT to
become more produc tmanagement oriented.While most IT shops talk about meeting the needs of the business, Tony and Susan, talk about SOA as an ongoing process
of product development and evangelism — a methodology for productizing
responsiveness to changing customer needs. “We’ve taken a software vendor
product management model — the product management discipline with its associated life cycle — and instilled that discipline so I can create that horizontal
utility infrastructure,” Bishop explains.
No such thing as a non technical corporate business

As the world of business becomes more reliant on technology the need for individuals to be able to figure out what is needed, advise internal customers, manage, deliver and maintain solutions will become critical. CIOs and CTOs are bound to be heading up teams of product managers to fulfil the gap and therefore assist in driving revenue.

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