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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2008
The Product Manager's Desk Reference is a comprehensive reference for the product management process, useful for anyone who works in product management and product marketing.

The PMDR's The Product Master Plan is the 'plan of record', considered an anchor, an archive, and a point of reference for people who may come and go. The chapters on Leadership, Cross-Functional Teams, and Decision-Making are well-presented. Haines offers valuable guidance about finance for product managers who have no formal training in this discipline.

The second module, Making the Market Your Primary Focus, includes discussion of Industry & Competitive Analysis, Segmentation, Forecasting, and Strategic Planning, with clear explanation and practical tools such as The Customer Visit Plan Template in the segmentation chapter.

The third module's sections on The Start of the Product's Journey and the New Product Development Process are practical. The Business Case chapter and the Marketing Plan for the Product are well-organized and applicable.

The fourth module, Continuing the Product Journey: Post-Launch Product Management, considers what happens after the product is in the market. Haines offers auditing techniques after the launch, as well as a logical way to 'run the business of the product'. These tools enable re-strategizing, re-planning, and overall financial and market optimization. The chapter on Life Cycle Product Portfolio Management considers products as investments, and efficient ways to evaluate how products contribute to the business, across individual life cycles. Haines also offers practical guidance for product discontinuation.

The end of each chapter includes a section called Raise Your Product Management Experience Quotient, offering helpful tips and tools for product mangers. The book is easy-to-read, accessible, and well-organized. This is a worthwhile reference for anyone in product management or product marketing.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2009
There are some books that are destined to become classics in their field. The Product Manager's Desk Reference by Steven Haines is one of those books. Anyone working not just in Product Management but also Marketing and Business Development, should take the time (and it is a hefty volume of 700 pages!) to read and absorb the comprehensive body of knowledge that Steven has organized around Product Management. If that sounds too daunting, be reassured by the fact that this is a reference book as well, so specific topics can be accessed easily without reading the entire book.

Steven demonstrates his vast knowledge of the true scope of the Product Manager's role. After explaining the basics in the first module that goes through the Foundational Elements of Product Management, the Desk Reference then explains the myriad details that position the Product Manager as the end to end owner of the business. Starting with the market analysis of the industry and competition, he then moves onto the fundamental elements of the role by teaching customer need analysis, market segmentation, forecasting and product planning. However he doesn't forget that a Product Manager needs to be the champion who can keep the process moving along with the Product Development team as well as being able to persuasively argue the business case to management to justify the product investment.

In particular, I appreciated that he sees the Marketing function as intricately linked to the Product with the Marketing Plan and details of the Launch synchronized together with the Communications Team and Sales Channels. In Module Four, he ups the ante with a clear-eyed explanation of auditing the launch results as input to running the business and going through the details of the entire lifecycle of Product Portfolio management, including End of Life.

The book has accessible Executive Summaries at the start of each chapter as well as easy to read diagrams and charts and a section at the end of each chapter called PMEQ that are a series of questions and suggestions for raising a Product Manager's Product Management Experience Quotient. Finally, there are two modules at the end about how to be professional and develop your career as a Product Manager and how to develop your employees, if you manage Product Managers. Taking this advice together with the last module, which is a Toolbox for Product Managers, leaves the reader with a full compliment of tools to successfully and methodically manage products, whatever the industry. As an endnote, I liked the extensive glossary, references and resources section, bibliography and comprehensive index.

This is the type of book that you will want to pick up often to check against an idea, template or list, so don't be surprised if it becomes dog eared as you find pages that you will want to get to quickly over and over again. This comprehensive guide should appeal to both neophyte product managers and those with experience, who just need to check a particular area or topic.

Amanda Noz
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2009
Steven Haines has does an amazing job of providing a resource that is useful to Product Managers regardless of experience level. The novice Product Manager would benefit from reading the book cover to cover to get a good understanding of what Product Management is about, where the experienced Product Manager can use it truly as a desk reference to get into the details when needed.

With every company defining Product Management differently, Product Managers often end up being the catch all. Steven has done an excellent job of bringing a standard definition of the roles and responsibilities of this "accidental profession" to the industry, and provided a path along with tools to improve your skills within the product management profession.

Short Answer: Buy this book and use it as the valuable resource it is.

Brian Weber
Product Manager
Thomson Reuters
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2009
The Product Manager's Desk Reference fulfills the promise of the title. It really does cover everything from philosophy to the full product cycle to place of the profession in the organization. It is light on marketing details and methods, as those can be found elsewhere, and instead emphasizes the mindset and cross-functional tools needed to be an effective CEO of a product or product line.

I bought this book because I am working towards becoming a Product Manager and wanted to learn what I should be able to do. The language was conversational and the concepts were accessible, both those I was able to relate to from my work experience and the ones new to me. When I do have a product management position I expect to be returning to the book repeatedly for honing of my best practices.

One of the most valuable parts of the book is the suggestions at the end of each chapter called "Raise Your Product Management Experience Quotient." They summarize the material but in terms of action items for you to do and apply to your own situation rather than in terms of bullets of information to absorb.

One thing I did notice is that some of the material seems to be scaled for use by large corporations and may need a little extra thought to apply to smaller organizations or groups. The questions are very valid and should be answered for successful products, but the number of people involved may be fewer and the reports simpler.

If you just want an introduction to the profession to see if it appeals to you or to understand what product managers do, then you don't need this book. If you are one, want to be one, or manage product development in any way - even if it's not your title - then this is a fantastic reference and you're bound to find some idea on how to fulfill your role more successfully. And since each chapter is essentially self-contained you can attack it in bites instead of all at once.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2010
Really, the title says it all. This is the most valuable product management book I've bought. It's so thorough and well-written that I have been reading it straight through. It covers all aspects of Product Management, including strategy, forecasts, cross-functional team management, business cases, launch, and post-mortems. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are a Product Manager, you can't afford not to get this book. My copy is filled with copious notes, underlines, highlights, and is dog-eared on many sections. I have recommended this book to my whole team. And no, I don't know the author. This is completely based on my own experience using this reference as a Sr. Product Manager for a major entertainment company.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2008
Product managers, especially in technology, are asked to be all things to all stakeholders. Steven Haines captures practical experience from multiple sources and delivers a resource that is highly versatile for professionals working with complex products or services.

Product Management is about making decisions that are critical to driving product development and performance in the market. The Product Manager's Desk Reference is the most comprehensive professional guide product manager's have at their disposal to hone their skills and deliver results.

Michael J. Salerno
Co-founder, Boston Product Management Association
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2009
I've spent my entire career (18 years) as a Engineer, Infrastructure Architect, and Sr. Manager of each of those areas respectfully. Recently I moved into an area somewhat foreign to me, Product Management. This was a scary transition for me as it's a fairly new role within the IT Organization. And I didn't have a clue where to begin.

This book certainly helped me in "Figuring it out". It was very thorough and laid a solid foundation on Product Management. Of the half dozen other books I thumbed through, this is the one sitting on my desk and gets the most use.

The key, over time, is how you adjust it's implementation to an internal IT environment. (Or your respective PdM role)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2008
Thank You - Thank You - Thank you Steven Haines! Your book is an absolute blessing for me! After ordering the book and reading it I turned around and ordered another for my employers reference library!!! It is so easy to follow, understand and correlate into my Product Manager responsibilities. The chapters are well organized and laid out in a sensible order of the actual work flow of a Product Manager. The expertise and knowledge of Mr. Haines is abundant and obvious with all points of the Product Life Cycle, rather than just being an expert at one facet. I reference this book at every opportunity and have already dog-earred many pages with my endless use. This desk reference has a permanent presence on my desk! This is by far the best reference guide created for "an accidential profession" crucial to the success and economic growth of any company in business today.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2008
I've been a practicing (software) product manager for many years, having worked at 3 large publicly traded software companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. I welcome that Mr Haines has written this book, because it saved me the trouble of writing one myself. I'm only half joking because for a time I seriously considered this.

If you accept the premise that product management as an art and science is applicable to many industries, then a book like this, by its nature, much strike the right balance between breadth and depth. Haines has struck what I believe to be the right balance where he covers all the bases at exactly the right level of detail.

I especially liked:
- Chapter 6, Finance for the Product Manager (in particular the section relating to internal funding decisions for a new product or product upgrade)
- Chapter 8 on segmentation
- Chapter 20 on product portfolio management

The latter chapter would be useful reading for product strategy folks in companies like Oracle that have done 45 acquisitions in the last 4 years and now have 3000 products, many of them with significant functional overlaps.

Suggestions for the next edition would be some case studies on product pricing strategies, and on outbound product marketing programs.

Net, net, this book would be a must-read for people on my teams, and would be standard issue to new hires.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2008
As someone who's been a product manager since the world was young (and now consulting to product management organizations), I'd recommmend this Handbook to be on every PM's shelf. (At the office, where you can grab it when needed.) Steve has been doing/teaching about PM for a long time, and captured some very important insights and information in a great book.
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