How Critical Is the Role of a Product Manager?

” Success is just a never-ending process of getting better and better at whatever you are trying to achieve. ”
- John Traver, Co-founder, and CTO, Frame.ioA question often asked nowadays, is “how to define the role of the product manager in today’s app-driven economy?” Consider this. Across most of the start-ups, the CEO or CTO in all likelihood is also playing the role of the product manager. Even in established organizations, where does the manager belong – Marketing or Design or Development; because he/she seems to be wearing all those hats. In fact, some even argue that management can even be a part-time role for someone in these areas or the top management itself.Let us try to look product management across three aspects.1. What does the role involve, and what does it take to be successful there – as this may help someone in making the all-important career shift or start a new one; or for that matter help you evaluate the suitable candidate.2. What is its role in Agile Development – because of the critical role a manager can play here3. Can product management be outsourced – since this decision can impact time-to-market / quality/ competitiveness/profitability like no other.What does the role of product management involve?Laurence Bradford writes in Forbes’ article – 8 Tips For Landing Your First Product Manager Role, writes, “The role sits at the intersection of business, technology, and design, combining strategy, marketing, leadership, and other skills with the end goal of launching an amazing product.”One thing is given – the importance and comprehensiveness of the product manager’s role. Today’s complexity of the business and technology landscape, as well as the constant churn in an organization’s product portfolio, requires a more active role for the manager. The bare minimums of the role include:1. Understand the vision of the management of the product and communicate it effectively to design, development, testing, and marketing teams (in their own languages).2. Conduct market research, technology research and an analysis of the company’s own business model to validate the product idea, determine its feature-set, and the development roadmap.3. Drive the development of the product through its various stages – working with multiple teams – to meet client requirements, timelines and quality & security standards.4. Establish an environment of seamless collaboration among the different teams to meet, as Bradford says, the end of launching an amazing product.Depending on the character of the organization and the way an organization defines its scope, the role may lean more towards Technology or Marketing. While that’s a moot point, the requirement for the manager to know and speak the language of both Marketing and Technology is a given.From a skills perspective, whether you come from a management or engineering background, to be a successful manager in today’s development scenario you should have: (a) strong understanding of programming with an ability to code yourself, (b) expertise in UX design, and (c) analytical thinking & problem solving skills – besides the more generic management skills like negotiation, communication, documentation, time management, delegation, stakeholder management and leadership.The role of product manager in Agile DevelopmentThe manager’s role becomes even more exciting and challenging in an agile environment. Yes, we are calling it an environment, because organizations are increasingly adopting ‘agile’ as a culture not just as a strategy for a particular product or project. In this setting, the features of a product or even the product itself are in perpetually in a dynamic state. Unlike traditional management, which moves through a linear roadmap with critical paths, in an agile environment product management takes an iterative approach to development with regular feedback intervals. And these iterations should let the user interact with the product during development.Though the most popular system of agile development, Scrum, creates a new role -products owner, some organizations have fused product owner and product manager roles in one role and some have used these two names interchangeably. But the fact of the matter is that manager’s role has become more intense – both on the side of development (sustainable development – where the sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely; along with continuous attention to technical excellence and good design) and marketing (value creation – where the timing, features, and roadmap are tested and calibrated based on customer feedback and research).Writing about How Product Management Must Change to Enable the Agile Enterprise, as early as in 2009, Catherine Conner had these four pieces of practical advice for adapting product management to agile needs -1. Stop doing work that does not deliver real customer value, directly or indirectly, and communicate what you will stop doing.2. Favor live interaction over lengthy documentation, whether it is describing a business case to executives or documenting requirements.3. Practice ruthless ranking, Whether it is prioritizing requirements, business goals or your daily activities, assign true priority numbers.4. Embrace change as an opportunity rather than a threat.Can Product Management be outsourced?There is a strong argument against outsourcing of product management – saying that the function is too strategic and integral to leave to experts outside your control. It does have its merits. But, as Roman Pavlyuk, rightly describes in his blog on SalesForce – there are five compelling reasons to outsource any technology service, which hold good for product management too.1. Reduce operating costs2. Improve corporate focus3. Gain access to world-class capabilities4. Free internal resources for other purposes5. Tap resources that are not available internallyThe question is the not ‘Can product management be outsourced?’ Rather it is more about ‘Whether to outsource product management; and if yes, how?’

London, Ontario Spas and Hair Salons – 5 Tips to Help You Choose One You’ll Love

If you live in or near London and are considering a trip to a spa hair salon there, you’ll see you have plenty of choice. In fact, Google offers up over 50 businesses that would be more than happy to accommodate you. So how on Earth does a person choose between them?I’d say there are 5 main points that will help you tip the scales in one direction or another:1) Friendly staff and recommendations2) Sterilized equipment and clean facility3) Well trained staff4) Convenient location5) Fair pricesFor most people, once they’ve had a pampering spa treatment, they can’t believe they ever doubted how fantastic it would be. Personally I prefer the spa hair salons where I can get my hair and nails done all at the same time, and I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve found to be important when choosing a place to give your hard earned dollars to.1) The staff must be friendly and make you feel great. I know there are lots of other things that really matter — like points 2 and 3 below — but even if a spa or salon is perfect on every other count, bad staff will be all that a person remembers. So yes, good staff can be any business’s most important asset.If you can ask recommendations that’s always a great start. Otherwise check with the London, Ontario Better Business Bureau. You’ll want to be sure the place you choose is a member and also that they have no complaints against them. If they have complaints then they’ve certainly made someone very unhappy and you’ll want to avoid them like the plague.2) The facility must be clean and the tools used (for manicures and pedicures for example) must be properly sterilized.Naturally, you’ll want the hair salon section of the facility to look clean. You’ll also want to be sure each station has Barbasol for the combs to soak in.As for the spa, ask if they use an Autoclave to sterilize. I know they don’t all have them so do make sure you ask – it’s a must have if you want the tools used on you to be sterile. Also, if you’re curious and want to see it when you get there, it looks a bit like a microwave.I also like to see the tools come out of their own packaging in front of me but that’s simply a personal preference that’s no formal indication of it being safely germ-free.3) The staff must be well trained and know what they are doing.Most spas will state this in their advertising and also display diplomas on their walls or desks throughout the facility. The staff don’t necessarily need to be London trained, but if you are looking around for “real” diplomas, some London schools include Fanshawe, Trios and Medix.4) Location must be convenient.Location of the business is important if you don’t have your own vehicle. If you are visiting London and will be taking a cab or walking on foot, location will be a big deal to you. Our biggest hotels, such as the Delta London Armouries (which is gorgeous) for example, are downtown.If you drop by a city information kiosk, like the one on Wellington Street just North of Southdale Road, they can give you an idea of what spas are closest to where you are staying.5) The prices must be fair.I could have said to look for inexpensive pricing but, this is one of those times when the saying you get what you pay for might just be true. So if you are after an inexpensive pedicure and the facility you go to is sparse and small, well, that’s fair. But if you want a warm, bubbly water soak, half leg massage and a thorough foot scrub, it may cost you more, but this price is fair due to the greater service offered.Of course you can still look for a deal on whatever service you choose. While you are at an information kiosk, be sure to also ask if they know of any specials. Some businesses in London will offer coupons for visitors to use. You may be able to get a discount on a combo spa service and hair salon visit and also a dinner deal at the same time.Now that you’ve reviewed my points, please take the plunge and find a favorite spa and treat yourself — you know you deserve it!

Mind, Body, Spirit – Be Your Own Manager

The opinions and beliefs of others can have a profound impact on how you see yourself and your world, if you allow it. You need to be careful to question what people say and do or you might discover you are blindly following in their footsteps, without realizing the path you have taken. It is a monkey see, monkey do syndrome.While you might trust someone, your choice to succumb to his/her influence is a reflection of his/her charm and manipulative character that might tip the scale without your being fully aware. You need to question your motive for agreeing to do something that is unlike you or questionable. You may feel uncomfortable at first if others question your decision to go against his/her grain. The fulfillment you feel as you make your own decisions can help you internalize the fact that you need to remain on a strong and steady path.It is within you to choose whom you will allow to influence your thoughts and feelings. However, putting this into practice can be tricky or a challenge you didn’t anticipate. You might discover the juxtaposition of your relationship with someone might be based on power and submission. You might be expected to follow his/her lead as a matter of course. However, it is your right to decide how you will live your life and to determine what is important for yourself.If you allow someone who is both charismatic and dominant to make the important decisions for you, you could end up in situations that are uncomfortable or risky.When you consciously manage your mind, body and spirit, no force in the universe can sway you from the path your have chosen. You can mitigate your susceptibility to outside influences by making the conscious decision to abide by your personal principles, no matter what and no matter whom.