Why Every Startup Needs Product Management

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

In fact, Product Managers are often called the mini-CEO, as they are, indeed, responsible for every aspect of a product and are generally a jack-of-all-trades.

The more I work with startups, the more I realize this role is widely overlooked and how much startups are losing out when they don’t pay attention to Product Management. I am writing this article to help startup founders understand the importance of Product Management and what that can represent to the success of their businesses. I hope that, by learning more about the Product Management discipline, you will consequently become a stronger founder and leader.

What is Product Management?

“The intersection between business, technology and user experience.” — Martin Eriksson.

Even though I have a strong UX background, I prefer seeing Product Management as,

The intersection of business, tech and people.

The reason why I say “people” instead of “UX” is because a Product Manager should have excellent interpersonal skills and understand all the different players connected to the product and business. This includes external stakeholders like customers, users, vendors, and partners, and internal stakeholders like the product team, other department teams, and leadership.

They are great generalists, excellent communicators and extremely candid.

Although Product Management is a broad discipline and includes a vast array of activities, I will do my best to list the most important ones below. Remember, as in any other discipline, the activities for a project should be chosen based on timeframe, budget and goals.

What “People” Means in Product Management

Just like startup founders, Product Managers should have a deep understanding of anyone connected to business and its product/service — this includes the product team, other department teams and stakeholders. Most importantly, I think, the Product Manager must have a great understanding of their customers. Product Managers are, after all, the bridge between the company’s departments including development, design, marketing, business development, business intelligence and customer support.

  • Customer development
  • Surveys
  • User research
  • Target audience and persona
  • UX/UI design
  • A/B test
  • Team alignment and collaboration
  • Marketing and sales

What “Business” Means in Product Management

The second aspect in Product Management is Business. A Product Manager should focus on how to optimize the product and how to maximize the business value. In spite of this, part of Product Management has the most direct relationship with a startup founder and leader. However, some important aspects are often overlooked.

  • ‘Own’ the product vision and strategy
  • Create and maintain the product roadmap
  • Understand the market and competitors
  • Help set and track OKRs (objective key results)
  • Manage KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Maximize ROIs (returns on investment)
  • Establish pricing strategy

What “Tech” Means in Product Management

The third aspect in Product Management is Technology. There are usually two types of Product Managers; a more technical manager and a more generalist manager. The technical manager comes from an engineering background, where the generalist can come from design, business, or any other area. In general, a Product Manager should have knowledge of the different tech stacks available in the market, the latest tech trends and an understanding of the difference between software engineering, data science, backend developers, QA tester, etc.

  • Product launch and release planning
  • Backlog and prioritization
  • “Agile” and “Lean” methodologies planning
  • KPIs
  • Product team management
  • Project timeline
  • Monitoring task completion
  • Run daily standups
  • Team allocation and management
  • QA tracking

Product Management Resources

In case you would like to learn more about Product Management, here are a few organizations with events, workshops and job opportunities.

Mind the Product

Mind the Product is a worldwide product management community, with a presence in over 180 cities. They just had their 10-year anniversary and hold many meetups, workshops and conferences. They’re most geared toward the European market, but have a strong presence in NY and San Francisco.

Women In Product

Women In Product is a non-profit organization, connecting women in the product management field through online platforms and live events. They have 32 worldwide chapters, 19K members and 95+ annual events across the globe. Their Slack group is full of tips and resources. For their upcoming events, visit their Eventbrite page.

PMA.LA

PMA.LA is a Product Management Association focused in the Los Angeles area. Similar to the groups above, they organize networking and learning events for the local community. While they don’t have much information on their website, their Slack channel is very active. Connected with producthired.com, you can also get daily notifications on job opportunities.

Conclusion

In summary, if you want your startup to reach or improve the product-market fit, achieve the next milestone and scale, make sure to consider a Product Manager in your team. After all,

Startups are like children; it takes a village to raise one.

In early-stage startups, the village is usually a very small founding team, focused on development and the pitch deck. I believe you can make your village much stronger with a Product Manager on your team.

Hire a product manager, a consultant or become one.

If you chose to play the role of a Product Manager yourself, go back to the activities listed above; highlight the most important ones for your company and start working on them. By the way, you don’t need to do every single activity listed in this article. Some of those are already in your mind, like maybe your target audience or your roadmap.

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Adriana T. Torresan

Adriana T. Torresan

33 Followers

Product Management leader and consultant. Entrepreneur. Helping startups and SMBs to validate market needs and delight users with a fearless product strategy.