Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 6)


In part 5, I showed how you can begin to decompose the areas where teams, particularly Product Management, provide key deliverables to other teams. Here’s what the heat map looked like for Product Management across the stages of the development cycle.

pmheatmap.jpg (click to enlarge)

For each colored element in the heat map, a list of deliverables and dependencies for that team at that stage of the cycle must be defined.

One important note here. Even though the chart above lists discrete stages in the development cycle, the stages can and likely will overlap in time. For example, Pre-Beta, Beta and Post-Beta all occur during the Product Development stage. And the Sustaining column is a set of ongoing deliverables that occur throughout all of the other stages and feed into stages such as Product Definition.

So, if one were to take a stab at listing the key deliverables at each stage of the development cycle, it could look something like this.

(click to enlarge)

I say “could look something like”, because it will vary somewhat from company to company, and possibly even from product to product. For example, A hardware product, e.g. an appliance, will have different deliverables at certain stages than a client-based software application. And the client-based software application may have different deliverables from a hosted SaaS application. Having said that, the stages and deliverables listed in the chart are relatively generic and should apply in many circumstances. And finally, some of the items may better fit in other columns depending on the company and the specifics of the situation. e.g. demo creation may take place later in the development cycle, closer to launch, may not even be a Product Management deliverable in certain companies, or may not even be needed at all!

In the context of the Information Supply Chain, when thinking of deliverables, there are upstream dependencies and downstream dependents. Upstream dependencies are any deliverables that must first be completed by yourself or others, in order for you to create your deliverable. For example, a good Product Requirements Document (PRD) might depend on the existence of a Market Requirements Document (PRD). Thus the MRD is an upstream dependency of PRD. Conversely, for every deliverable, the downstream dependents of the deliverable must be identified and documented. e.g. For a PRD, the downstream dependencies can include Functional and Design Specifications created by Engineering and Product Description and Overviews created by Product Marketing.


Now let’s look at the first column and drill down some more.

It has three potential deliverables:

  • Statements of Direction
  • Market Requirements Document
  • Product Roadmap

Each of these needs to be defined and the dependencies (upstream and downstream) need to be identified. Luckily for Product Management, there are very few upstream dependencies in this case. Here’s the text for the Statements of Direction:

Statements of Direction (SODs)
These are high level strategic documents, describing a number of characteristics about a new or needed technology or functional area to be added to the product. A typical SOD should be about 2-3 pages in length maximum . i.e. not lengthy.
SODs are typically theme based documents (e.g XML, Web Services, 64-bit Computing etc.) that describe major milestones needed across releases for given themes. A good SOD should include an “elevator pitch” describing the theme, a market or technology overview, including competitive info and market risk if necessary, the case for change and benefits for implementing the change, and a summary roadmap for the theme.
Internal Consumers: Product Management, Product Strategy, Development, Product Marketing
External Consumers: Strategic Customers and Partners
Downstream Dependents: A Statement of Direction provides the necessary input for Product Marketing to create a “Point of View” (POV) document. Multiple Statements of Direction, defining objectives for multiple themes provide key input for Product Roadmaps
NOTE: A POV is an external facing document that can be used by Sales to convey product intent on a particular theme to customers/prospects/partners without revealing internally sensitive information

As you can see, this is a clear and succinct definition that describes the intent, general contents and consumers of the document. In this example I’ve added the NOTE to show an explicit downstream dependency of a Statement of Direction.

Here’s the definition of the Market Requirements Document. This should be familiar to most, if not all of you.

Market Requirements Document (MRD)
MRDs are quite commonly produced by Product Management and/or Product Marketing. More applicable to new products, MRDs, like SODs, are strategic documents, but typically provide much more detail about the market dynamics and market sizing, the competitive environment, the business case for developing the new product as well as likely go to market strategy options.
In short, the rationale for a new product is thought through and documented. Should the internal or external environment change, the MRD can be reviewed, updated and then reassessed to see if the new product is still justified, or what needs to be changed from a business perspective to continue investment in the new product.
Internal Consumers: Product Management, Product Marketing, Product Strategy and Senior Management.
External Consumers: None
Downstream Dependents: Product Requirements Document, Positioning Documents
Upstream Dependencies: None

And finally the Product Roadmap:

Product Roadmap
Product roadmaps are important tools in many sales situations. Prospects, customers and partners want to know that the vendor has a solid future plan that covers key areas of concern or need.
A roadmap should provide a high level view of key product releases and major functionality over time. Most roadmaps cover 12 to 18 month time frames and at least one major version release into the future. Roadmaps are typically communicated to external parties by Product Managers, Sr. Management and senior members of the sales and sales engineering team. Keep in mind that roadmaps represent a projection of plans into the future, and while one can strive to be honest about those plans, roadmaps do not in any way indicate commitments to deliver any specific functionality in any specific release or by any particular date. This must be conveyed explicitly to those who receive roadmap information
Internal Consumers: Product Management, Senior Management, Sr. Sales and Sales Engineering staff. Others on an as needed basis.
External Consumers: Customer, Partners, Prospects
Downstream Dependents: Product Requirements Documents
Upstream Dependencies: Statements of Direction

So there you have it. The first column of the Deliverables table is now defined. The task for you is to go and try this on your own for other items in the table. Pick a couple of them and work on the definition, the consumers and the downstream and upstream dependencies. Feel free to to post some of them in comments on contact me if you have some questions.

It’s important to work through this exercise within your own company. Explicitly understanding not only what you need to do, but who you depend on and who depends on you across the stages of the development cycle is a very important exercise. I can almost guarantee that you will find a few surprises and challenges as you work through the process.

Saeed

The rest of the series
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 1)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 2)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 3)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 4)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 5)
Product Manager vs. Product Management (part 6)

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