How Mature is the Product Management at Your Company?

Contributed by Brian Lawley

As Product Management has evolved and matured as a profession many companies now realize that it is a critical strategic driver for their business. They understand that without a responsible central point of contact that is well-informed about the market, competition, customer needs and trends their products may fail short-term or may succeed yet lose longer-term because of the wrong strategy. They know they need someone where “The Buck Stops” regarding making products successful.

But how do you know how good (or not so good) Product Management is at your company? One way is to use metrics from other Product Management organizations. A good source for some of these metrics is the Challenges in Product Management Survey. Conducted by the 280 Group it includes responses from 850 Product Management professionals about what the biggest challenges they face are, and includes data on areas of strength as well as weakness. You can download the full survey here, and some of the statistics and data are available in the infographic below.
Another way is to use a Product Management maturity model and grade your company. This is a way to see how you compare on many of the most important factors, such as skill level of Product Managers, whether Product Managers are viewed as leaders, how effective your Product Management processes are and other dynamics. The scale below shows a breakdown that you can use to determine where your organization is.

There are three levels of maturity in terms of Product Management organizations:
1. Ad hoc
2. Partially Defined
3. Optimized

You can also think of this as a continuous scale, ranging from chaos to being highly-effective. In the chaotic Ad Hoc environment (often startups) Product Management is not highly valued, there is much stress, products suffer and your job as a Product Manager is far less satisfying. On the flip side, in an optimized environment Product Managers are viewed as leaders in the company, things are run very efficiently and the Product Managers tend to have much higher job satisfaction.
Product-management-modelSo which level is your company at? If you aren’t optimized, what are you going to do about it? Make a commitment to create a plan and get to the next level. Your company and products will be much more successful and you’re likely to enjoy being a Product Manager more.

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Brian Lawley is the CEO and Founder of the 280 Group, the world’s leading Product Management Consulting and Training firm. He is the former President of the Silicon Valley Product Management Association, Author of five bestselling Product Management books, editor of the 280 Group Product Management blog and newsletter and was awarded the AIPMM “Excellence in Product Management Though Leadership Award.

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