High-Performance Product Management

21 Jul 2010 Sandeep Mehta

The article High-Performance Product Management: The Impact of Structure, Process, Competencies, and Role Definition in the Journal of Product Innovation Management is interesting for many reasons.  The least of them is because it provides a very good history of research in product management.  More importantly, it combines qualitative interviews with factor analysis and maximum likelihood estimation to develop and test a model for improving performance in product management.

The paper identifies several key factors that potentially impact product management performance. A set of qualitative interviews is conducted to develop hypotheses related to constructs that may drive product management performance. These hypotheses are used to develop a causal model for product management performance that includes constructs related to roles and responsibilities, organization structure, and marketing processes related to product management. An empirical survey of 198 product managers from a variety of industries is conducted to test the causal model. The results of the causal model suggest that performance of a product management organization is driven by structural barriers in the organization, the quality of marketing processes, roles and responsibilities, and knowledge and competencies. The findings suggest that structural boundaries and interfaces are the biggest impediment to effective product management, followed by clarity of roles and responsibilities. The research highlights the importance of organization structure and effective human resource practices in improving product management performance.

Below is what I learned from it:

The overall model proposed for Product Management Excellence is:

Overall recommendation from the model and associated analysis are:

  1. Remove Organizational Barriers and Connect Silos: For example, between existing product management vs. new product management residing in different organizations)
  2. Do not expect product managers to learn on the job: Develop and provide formal training to augment knowledge / competencies / soft skills.
  3. Define Authority and Responsibilities Clearly: In many organizations, product managers have no clear authority and vaguely defined roles. This makes is difficult to deliver results.
  4. Allow Product Managers to focus on Strategy & Planning: 42% of product managers surveyed believed that they spent most of their time on tactical activities and coordination. They had no time to make strategic decisions.
  5. Institute Quality Product Management Processes: From Market Requirement Documents to SKU Planning, lack of effective processes increases non-value-added work and reduces effectiveness

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