The Product Management Cycle

Oct 28, 2022

Jack Zampolin

Product Management

This blog post is about how Strangelove views the Product Management role in technical, backend startups. The core of this view is the "Product Process": the flow of information and resources required to ship a product:

  • Users: Product Management starts with deeply understanding the users of a product and what problems they are trying to solve. This requires maintaining regular contact with both new and existing users and constantly seeking feedback on what features developers and users need in order to be successful with our software. Product Management starts with the users, and Product Managers are users of their products.

  • Business: Product Managers need to understand the broader competitive environment and be able to incorporate good ideas from the market by championing them internally. PMs also need to work with the business side of the organization to properly resource and support the product development process. This necessitates regular contact with finance, marketing, staffing, support, and broader executive management. Cross-functional collaboration and relationships in the company are critical to success in these areas. Product Managers are in the business of influencing multiple stakeholders without direct authority.

  • Developers: Product Managers then take the user needs – filtered through the lens of business requirements – and work with the engineering teams to develop roadmaps and ship software. If the product is technical, Product Managers should write code. This code will mainly turn out to be tooling to help users and developers to more easily consume the product.

  • Marketing: Once the engineering has shipped the code, Product Managers then work with Marketing to launch the product into the community. PMs are key to helping new users identify the right and wrong ways to apply the product to their local needs.

This Product Process can be visualized as a circle: Users -> Business -> Developers -> Marketing -> Users...

The role of Product Manager is to ensure that the Product Process cycle flows as quickly as possible.

  • If communication breaks down between the stakeholders, the Product Manager dives in and ensures that the roadblock is cleared.

  • If teams are lacking user feedback, the Product Manager speaks directly to the users and gets the required feedback.

  • If there is a business decision that needs to be made, the Product Manager gathers information, presents it to the necessary stakeholders, and gets to a decision that unblocks the Product.

  • If the developers are having trouble completing a milestone or feature, the Product Manager works to push that feature over the finish line by redefining milestones or launch goals, unblocking individual contributors, or by rescoping or refactoring the components of a Product into a more achievable target.

  • Product Managers own go-to-market for their Products and work with internal teams (Marketing, Community, Sales, etc..) to launch their products.

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