Digitalization is causing a major disruption in the project management industry, prompting organizations to shift from a project model to a product model in order to more effectively manage technology investments.
Gartner predicts businesses that embrace this change now will outperform their competition in both customer satisfaction and business results. (Source: "Mastering the Role of Products in the Digital Era." Full report available to Gartner clients.)
We've created this guide to help you better understand all that product management encompasses and how it relates to the current project management marketplace.
Whether you're just starting to shift from a project to a product model, or you're a seasoned product manager looking to upgrade your current system, this guide can help you make a more informed purchase decision.
Here's what we'll cover:
Product management encompasses the planning, production, marketing and managing of products over their life cycle, i.e., introduction, growth, maturity and decline. It brings together business strategy, customer needs/wants and technology investments.
Products can be tangible, i.e., physical goods, or they can be more intangible, such as software applications or a service you offer.
Gartner's Definition of a Product in the Digital Era
(Source: "Mastering the Role of Products in the Digital Era." Full report available to Gartner clients.)
Within the realm of IT and project management, product portfolio management refers to an organizational approach to managing technology investments (i.e., software and applications), both internally developed or purchased.
It involves grouping applications into product suites that align with, and deliver the capabilities required by, each business area. The goal is to deliver continuous value from software and applications over their life cycle, rather than a single delivery of value all at once at the close of the project.
Product management software provides support for these ventures, allowing businesses to more effectively:
These disciplines are closely related, but there are some key differences:
Product management involves developing and communicating a product strategy (that aligns with business goals). Product managers put together a product vision, outline high-level requirements, prioritize initiatives in the portfolio and drive the development of products in the product line.
Strategic planning in Aha!
Project management involves executing the strategy through individual initiatives. Each project initiative is designed to deliver specific requirements. Project managers govern those initiatives, coordinate resources, oversee schedules and manage all the details of the project from kickoff to closeout.
Project dashboard in LiquidPlanner
Product management software can range quite significantly in size and function, with some specializing in a single phase of the product life cycle and others offering an integrated suite of tools to govern multiple phases.
Expect to see some or all of the following capabilities as you evaluate the various product management systems on the market:
|Collaboration||Increase transparency into your product strategy and vision. Enable users to communicate and collaborate in a centralized workspace, share ideas and work together to accomplish goals.|
|Idea management||Create a forum where users can submit and discuss product ideas and build out a business case. Figure out what to work on next by grooming your product backlog based on impact versus effort.|
|Content management||Upload and store files such as product requirements, market research and competitor analyses. Set permissions and share files with approved users. This may be called a "research repository."|
|Product portfolio management||Build a product portfolio based on business strategy and current, near term and future goals. Design product lines and manage opportunities across the business. Communicate your product vision, value proposition, go-to-market plans and more.|
|Product research||Conduct research on users, build personas, test various designs for the best user experience.|
|Product roadmapping||Prioritize initiatives based on customer analysis and feedback. Break product requirements into features and put them on the roadmap according to priority. Roadmap options will vary across tools, i.e., team roadmaps, product roadmaps, portfolio roadmaps, release roadmaps. Discuss needs with vendors to ensure the product capabilities match your business requirements.|
|Application management||Support software and application products over their life cycles: Plan/gather requirements, put into design specification plan, develop/build it, test it, deploy application and maintain/support it.|
|Reporting and analytics||Organize data, analyze it, spot trends and identify patterns. Collate data from various sources on dashboards and build out custom reports or use an out-of-the box template.|
|Feedback management||Gather customer feedback and incorporate it into product decisions. Link feedback to product ideas and requirements on your roadmap.|
The shift from project to product portfolio management is happening faster than you might think. We surveyed managers and application leaders to find out how their organizations currently manage technology investments.
While 36 percent still manage all investments as IT projects, it's telling that 64 percent have a product component in their portfolio in some capacity.
This reflects a major change in how organizations are seeking to deliver value through capabilities, from strictly project-based to product-oriented portfolios.
Organizational Approach to Managing Technology Investments
Gartner estimates that by 2020, three-quarters of digital business leaders will have pivoted from project to product portfolio management. (Full report available to Gartner clients.)
If you're part of the 36 percent who have yet to make the transition, here's how to get started:
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