December 15, 2017

Earned Authority #4: Make a Positive Impact on the Important Drivers of Your Company’s Business Model

Too often as Product Managers/Product Marketers, we are so focused on our product that we lose sight of how it fits in to the overall business strategy of our company.   One of the key ways to establish yourself as a leader in your organization is to really understand and focus on the key business drivers for your organization.   That is to understand what drives success for the organization, and then manage your product in a way to help support those business drivers.   Below are several business drivers that, if you understand and support, will set you apart from other Product Managers.

  1. Business Strategy:  The number one way to set yourself apart is to understand how your product fits into the overall business strategy and drive your product strategy to support the business strategy.   Too often we get caught up in product features and customer requests and forget that our product exists to help the company achieve specific strategies and objectives.   As a successful Product Manager, you must understand the how your company and product line is positioned in the market, how the company creates a competitive advantage, what are the core competencies of the company and what are specific strategic initiatives for the current year and planned initiatives for the next 2 or 3 years.  And then based upon this knowledge, create a product strategy, build out a roadmap and then drive your product to support thebusiness strategy.   You will be much more impactful as Product Manager if you can present your product roadmap in the context of the overall strategy versus showing a list of features and enhancements.
  2. Drivers of Profitability & Growth:  While this may sound obvious, there are key parts of your overall business model that have the biggest impact on profitability and growth.  The better you understand that, the better you can make decisions on your product strategy to improve on these key business drivers.  For example, in some industries, customer retention is a key business driver, so as Product Manager, you will want to focus on aspects of your product that will improve on customer retention.  Or, if you offer a free trial, then a key driver will be the percentage of trials that turn into paid customers, so as a Product Manager, you will want to focus on improvements to your product that improve conversion to paid customers.
  3. Your Stakeholders Key Objectives:  If you want to establish strong relationships with your key stakeholders, then understand how their success is measured, and to the extent possible, consider what you can do with your product strategy to help your key stakeholders achieve their objectives (which should ultimately be in support of the Business Strategy).   For example, if the Professional Services team has a metric to decrease implementation times by x%, then you’ll want to support that as much as possible.   Or, if Sales has an objective to increase sales in a certain market, you’ll want to identify product initiatives that will help them achieve that objective.
  4. Understand the Numbers:  Finally, you have to understand company’s finances and how your product impacts those finances.  Depending upon your industry, the important finance metrics you’ll want to understand relative to your products could include:  cash flow, inventory, turn-over ratios, utilization of assets and resources, gross margin targets, cost allocation, etc.  This is the ultimate test of making a positive impact on the key drivers for your company!

 

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