on August 1, 2000
As a new product manager, I found this book quite useful as an overview of what is to be expected of a product manager. The book covers the roles, skills, and expectations of the product manager, covers the different organizational structures that cover product management, and uses detailed examples to show how those functions work in practice.
My only criticism is that it is a broad overview, and as such some of the areas (branding, for example) are covered very briefly. This book probably won't teach anything to the experienced product manager, but it might be useful as a reference to how other companies approach product management.
For product managers and, in fact, *anyone* who contributes the to the making, marketing or selling of products, this is a great reference book to have on your shelves. Linda Gorchels does a masterful job synthesizing all of the issues a product manager must be capable of tackling. She accomplishes this task with clean, well-structured text and examples. The heart of the book is really a series of extended checklists which are comprehensive, well-researched and accesible to the lay reader.
My only complaint is that the book is front-loaded with some some compartively less important stuff, including a chapter entitled "Product Manager.com." I suppose this emphasis is reflective of a book written in 1999 and published in 2000. But as I cast my eye warily at that chapter I was *this close* to just chucking the whole thing.
Just then...bingo. The red meat arrived at Chapter 5 when *finally* the planning skills required to be a PM were introduced. The book from this point (p. 69 in hardcover) on is cram-packed with tremendous information that you'll use again and again.
So, my word of advice when you get this book is either (a) don't give up on it early, or (b) proceed directly to Chapter 5.
on January 3, 2001
This book provides a very good overview of the role and responsibilities of the new Product Manager. It is aimed basically to describe the new concept of product management emerged out of corporate product marketing. Lot of literature is available to explain about new product development explaining the aspects of research, target customers etc. but it is not helpful for understanding of the complete role of product management. It has all inputs for setting up new product management team for organizations. As a new product manager I found this book helpful while making my role description. As I see, this second version has some new additions when compared to the first version and I hope, the next version will provide some additional information about branding, positioning and product marketing aspects to help experienced product managers as well. This book surely helps new product managers.
on July 13, 2004
I read this book in 2000 when I started my first job as a PM. Since then, I have re-read it a few times. Each re-read is such a pleasure as I am able to tie in my experience to more and more facets of the book that were previously unclear. The book is an industry independent, general review of the roles and responsibilities of a product manager. It lays a nice foundation for those who are new to the position by outlining business processes, internal and external interactions and organizational roles a PM can expect to have.
The book does not delve into the mechanical details of marketing: such as conducting research, performing surveys, managing channels or evaluating effectiveness. However, it does talk about which kind of product managers would benefit from certain types of marketing initiatives.
If you are new to Product Management or would like to learn more about the processes involved in managing a product's lifecycle, this book is an excellent introduction.
on December 18, 2001
The Product Manager's Handbook is a good, general introduction to the subject. The concepts are explained clearly. The book gives a good description of the different steps it takes to transform ideas into commercially viable products and the skill set expected from a performing product manager. The critical financial side of product management, however, deserves more space than only 8 pages in a 290-page book dedicated to the product manager. At the end of the day, a product manager must show the money. Otherwise, the products will be "killed" sooner or later.
on January 9, 2004
This is a very good introductory text to anyone who aspires to be a Product Manager. It skims through the generics of what is required of a Product Manager in general. Coverage of topics such as planning for new products, some light financial discussions, discussions about marketing plans, etc. are useful to know.
It pays to note that this book is light on details and should be used as an introductory text. There are books that offer in-depth coverage of specific areas of product management areas such as marketing planning, business planning, marketing analysis, data mining, and so on.
Although a bit light on details, I gave it 4 stars because if it went into details it would have been a 5000 page book as Product Management sits anywhere between a simple to complex discipline depending on what industry and what firm one works in.
This book gives a good introduction into the roles and responsibilities of a product manager. It makes no assumptions of any prior knowledge or experiences. For each chapter, it provides worksheets or process flow charts. In addition, case studies of actual events are presented. At the end of each chapter, it provides a set of checklist. Therefore I will recommend this to any reader interested to know more or making a career change.
Overall, this book provides an excellent overview of the on-goings within business processes. Below is a brief summary.
This book is divided into 4 parts. Part I gives an introduction into product management. Part II highlights the process that the product managers (PMs) can use in their annual planning activities. It provides a format or guidelines for the annual product marketing plan. Part III highlights the analytical skills of PMs, which is to evaluate existing product line and to determine & implement new product strategies. Part IV elaborates on the marketing skills necessary for a successful product line. Special attention is devoted to pricing and marketing communication decisions and activities.
Briefly, product management is about the planning, forecasting and marketing of products and services. There is a need for PMs to be cross-functional leaders. The overall responsibility of the PM is to integrate the various segments of a business into a strategically focused whole, maximizing the value of a product by coordinating the production of an offering with an understanding of the market needs and requirements. PMs manage not only products, but projects and processes as well. The PM's job is to oversee all aspects of a product/service line to create and deliver superior customer satisfaction while simultaneously providing long term value for the company.
In terms of time allocation, the PM typically spends 40-55% on day-to-day activities, 20-30% on short term activities and 15-25% on long term or strategic activities. Therefore excellent time management is crucial. Examples of day-to-day activities are maintenance of product fact books, motivation of the sales force and distributors, collection of marketing information including competitive benchmarks, trends and opportunities and customer expectations, acting as liaison between the sales, manufacturing and R&D, etc teams. Examples of short-term activities are controlling budget and achieving sales goals, participation in annual marketing plan and forecast developments, working with advertising departments or agencies to implement promotional strategies, coordinating tradeshows and conventions, participation in new product-development teams and predicting and managing competitors' actions, modification of product and/or reduction of costs to increase value, recommendation of line extensions, participation in product elimination decisions, etc. Examples of long term strategic activities are creation of long term competitive strategy, identification of new product opportunities, recommendation of product changes, enhancements and introductions, etc.
PMs need a variety of knowledge including product/industry knowledge, business knowledge and interpersonal/management knowledge. In the beginning, PMs typically spend most of the time gathering and organizing information on products, customers and their competition. Product knowledge is paramount. As they gain experience, the focus shifts to more comprehensive business knowledge, including finance, marketing and strategic planning. At the same time, they develop team building, negotiation, communication and leadership abilities. For PM to be effective, they need to build bridges throughout the company and be cross-functional leaders. For product management or marketing management, the emphasis is on being market-driven and not product-driven.
In terms of new product development, the role of the PM will be to represent the voice of the customer, balancing the corporate ROI (rate of investment), customer satisfaction and the manufacturing cost. Whereas for strategic interactions, the PM must work continuously with operations to improve and enhance production line. PMs are frequently involved with operations on cost-reduction projects.