The role of the product manager includes many different topics. An area that would indeed be part of the core responsibility is what we call “Product Analysis”, which refers to the financial, quality reporting and analysis of the entire portfolio of products.Obviously, any product manager should know the status of their product. What is selling and what is not – and why? This part of the overall “Insight” is vital in order to take corrective actions and make ameliorations to create success.
How can you reach that goal? Here are my five best tips:
Tip #1: Interfaces in your organization
The financial reporting function, often a controller, is a key partner for the product manager when it comes to financial reporting.
For hw products there is often a quality function taking overall responsibility for measuring and taking actions on failure rates, return of goods etc.
For services and sw products – customer support would be a useful source for statistics on usage and quality problems, bugs etc.
Make a habit of talking to these colleagues – you need their help sooner or later.
Tip #2: ERP systems
Business support and ERP systems would be a typical source for data. Maybe your company has a few QlikView licenses. Insist of Product Management having access to this (or similar) tool.
In some global organizations there are multiple toolsets for different parts of the corporation. You might have to do some data mining and compilations until you have really useful data.
Tip #3: Financial systems are not built for you
Financial reporting is often tailored for large-scale analysis of company profitability and NOT individual product performance. Often revenue and costs are not detailed to the product level.
The Product Manager will have to find ways to extract the required information from often inadequate financial reports.
Tip #4: Operational efficiency
The product data can be a useful source of finding less efficient parts of your company. Why are the sales costs way higher in Norway compared to Finland?
Why are the revenue forecasts always accurate from Germany but never from down under? Why are product releases always late from the Design Center in Gothenburg?
Which part of the organization is the bottle neck of you product?
Tip #5: Challenge time reporting from development units
R&D departments often have a time reporting system to split cost to projects and products. Again – at least from the R&D manager’s perspective (I know – I’ve been one …) allocating all costs to SOME project is the key. Not making sure you are charged only for appropriate efforts creating value for your product.