We had conducted a Product Management Career Masterclass at IIM Bangalore on 25th May. The mentors for the event were Harshit Kumar, Sr. Product Manager at Microsoft & Vinod S, Sr. Product Manager at PayPal. The event was attended by a diverse set of industry professionals and students from diverse industries, functions and work experience. The master class started with introduction of the theme from Alok Shrivastava, Co Founder GoCrackIt followed by session by Harshit and Vinod on fundamentals of Product Management and how one can get into Product Management roles. Some of the insights we gathered from the discussion are as follows:
What is a Product?
The session started with the very definition of product which, as described by Harshit, is something that solves customer problem. He emphasized that in industry, product management is very loosely used to refer other works like project & program management.
A formal definition of a product could be:
“A term used to describe all goods, services, and knowledge sold. Products are bundles of attributes (features, functions, benefits, and uses) and can either be tangible, as in the case of physical goods; intangible as in the case of those associated with service benefits; or can be a combination of the two.”
During the discussions, he also explained that Products and Services can also be bundled together. For example, iPhone as a physical product and iStore as a service work together to form an Apple product. Product can also be categorised, on a high level, as B2B (business to business) products, where customers are companies who are much more informed and can define what they want or B2C (business to customers) products, where customers sometimes may not know what they exactly want.
Harshit also touched about why Apple had so much success with iPhone products. One of the reasons he cited that Apple had a lot of features in one device including music, email and other basic essentials all on the go and by doing this it focused on the latent need of the customers. One more innovation which worked for them was their emphasis on finger being the stylus.
What is the role of Product Manager and why is it important?
Product Manager is arguably a mini CEO of the product. Being a Product Manager, you are responsible for managing financials, customer needs, cross-functional teams, sales, marketing, revenue and overall success of the entire product aligning with companies’ strategies. Harshit also quoted Professor Mohanbir Sawhney, Kellog School of Management who famously compared product managers with 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu where product managers have to take following roles during his/her job.
Our mentors also stressed that product managers give utmost importance to the user’s problem.
Different stages of product management
Harshit has also elaborated different stages of product management from Conceptualisation, Feasibility, Definition, Development, Launch, Strategic & Tactical management of the product. He also talked about different decision points which a product manager had to take during the entire cycle. It may also happen that on one hand you are a conceptualisation stage for one product/ feature, while on another you are doing the tactical management of another product/ feature.
To know more about how one can get into product management career, click here to read part 2 of the blog