Product management is the business process of planning, developing, launching, and managing a product or service. It includes the entire lifecycle of a product, from ideation to development to go to market. Product managers are responsible for ensuring that a product meets the needs of its target market and contributes to the business strategy, while managing a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle. Software product management adapts the fundamentals of product management for digital products.
The concept of product management originates from a 1931 memo by Procter & Gamble President Neil H. McElroy. McElroy, requesting additional employees focused on brand management, needed "Brand Men" who would take on the role of managing products, packaging, positioning, distribution, and sales performance.
The memo defined a Brand Man's work as:
In modern terms, McElroy defined the role as: analyze product distribution, optimize working distribution strategies, diagnose and solve distribution issues, optimize product positioning and product marketing, and collaborate with regional distribution managers.
Product managers are responsible for managing a company's product line on a day-to-day basis. As a result, product managers are critical in both driving a company's growth, margins, and revenue. They are responsible for the business case, conceptualizing, planning, product development, product marketing, and delivering products to their target market. Depending on the company size, industry, and history, product management has a variety of functions and roles. Frequently there is an Income statement (or Profit and Loss) responsibility as a key metric for evaluating product manager performance.
Product managers analyze information including customer research, competitive intelligence, industry analysis, trends, economic signals, and competitive activity, as well as documenting requirements, setting product strategy, and creating the roadmap. Product managers align across departments within their company including product design and development, marketing, sales, customer support, and legal.