Product strategy, sometimes called the ‘roadmap’ is the simply the goal of the product line for the next one to three years. Any longer than three years is typically folly due to the fast changing environment in which most industries exist. The product manager is responsible for the strategy of her product line since she retains the expertise of the product and its associated markets. She is the one who fields daily calls from customers and sales personnel, and is closest to the technology, aside from the R&D department.
The executive level employ these experts, product managers in this case, to know the details, develop product roadmaps, and then execute on the individual plans that will cause the results. The executive level is to manage the higher level functions of the business, guide it through the economy, and generally make resources available to the experts to execute on the functional areas of the business. Involving executives in the minute details of a product line (or any department) is counterproductive in that the product manager is sidelined while explaining the product line to the executives, the executives are sidelined while learning these details, and the business suffers because those responsible for running these key areas are distracted.
The following shows how the responsibilities and associated authority should best be divided.
Product managers are the product and market experts. They know more about the overall product, market, and plans than anyone else in the company. They should be orchestrating and consulted on all issues dealing with their product and related markets. They are the masters of their realm because they:
- are close to the customers and the products
- know the technology better than all but the R&D department
- know the competitive landscape
- know the suppliers and the supply chain
- are the subject matter experts
The executive level is the guiding force of the company. They are responsible for creating or should be consulted on the following:
- creation and management of corporate strategy
- business model topics
- channel strategy issues
- organizational structure to support organization’s goals
These groups of individuals have very different and essential roles in the firm. Neither can succeed without the other, and neither group is equipped to conduct the other’s role. Most importantly, problems arise when these groups attempt to do the other’s job.
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