Flexing Your Financial Muscle

There’s so much interest and talk about Agile, Lean, Design Thinking techniques amongst my Product Management friends. Hypotheses are constructed and pushed out the door to find unsuspecting users to confirm if its true or false. Business Model canvasses are whipped up at a moment’s notice. (I do it too!) User journeys are designed after 2 hours of field work observing how users use products to complete a job.

Every Product Manager I meet seems supremely confident and proficient at designing the next product and pushing it out the door, after which they roll up their sleeves and trade Product Backlog war stories with pride.

“Mine is so big, I’ll have enough work for my engineers for years! How big is yours?”

Its what great Product Managers do after all…

And… yes great Product Managers do and should carry out all of the above.

But, (and yes there is a but…) the talk around financials seems to have dampened down to barely a whisper. Do we even know how much revenue our product contributes to the overall business? What’s the product’s Gross Margin? Many Product Managers would say that they simply don’t have access to this information.

No one will hand over this information to us… We have to find it, take it and use it.

Great Product Managers should and do know their way around their product’s Profit and Loss. Granted, some may not be responsible for driving any of the key numbers but great Product Managers should be able to look at a P&L and tell a story. They should be able to convey the health of their product today and anticipate the path that it will take.

The P&L lays bare the story for us to tell. It shows us if our product costs too much to produce, to market or to operate. It reveals if our suppliers are charging us too much. It divulges if we’ve had one too many launch parties. It tells us if we should continue to invest in our product. It signals if the life of the product is coming to an end.

So while knowing which new features are next up in our Product Backlog is important, it’s just as vital to strut your stuff with your P&L in hand.

Do you know your way around your product’s P&L?

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