Product Management Comes in From the Cold With Launch of New Global Standard

Collaborative Guide Provides 75 Year Old Profession with Unified Approach to Reduce Inefficiencies & Hiring Confusion While Improving Learning Standards

Sydney, 10th September 2013 – A new industry guide for the Product Management profession was launched around the world this week and marks the first time that professionals within this community, which has existed for more than 75 years, have had an accredited global benchmark and consistent unified guidelines around language, process and skill-sets.

The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge (ProdBOK) is the collective effort of more than 60 Product Management professionals from around the world who have been working towards codifying a Product Management and marketing body of knowledge since 2011. Within this select group of contributors were Nick Coster and Adrienne Tan, the co-founders of Sydney based consultancy Brainmates and Product Management pioneers in Australia.

Ms. Tan argues that whilst the Product Management profession has a long history, its lack of a global standard has meant that the sector has struggled with productivity inefficiencies, hiring confusion and inconsistencies in academic standards both in Australia as well as overseas.

The mission of the resulting ProdBOK, which is sponsored by the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM), is to lay down the cornerstone of the profession in an effort to support the development of an open professional standard that clarifies the language, processes and toolsets that Product Managers rely upon.

“Bodies of knowledge form the foundation for consistency in terms of training and practice as well as establishing the boundaries of the profession,” said Greg Geracie, the ProdBOK’s Editor in Chief and a recognised Product Management expert.

“Not only do Product Managers as individuals need to take greater ownership in seeking the best training available, the profession more broadly needs to rally behind a common standard that will evolve in line with the needs of individuals and organisations,” said Mr. Geracie. “This is a shared responsibility for the betterment of the profession and its practitioners overall.”

As well as lacking a common language and accredited knowledge base, another commonly identified challenge for Product Managers is the transfer of professional skills from one vertical sector to another. This is because hiring managers tend to emphasise domain skills over product management skills and are therefore unclear as to which of these skills are transferrable.

“This is a 75 year old profession that is still in the early stages of development, as a result of which Product Managers and executives in adjoining professions have had to continually reinvent the wheel,” said Mr. Geracie. “The irony is that in today’s globalised and always-on market the pressure for companies to quickly adapt their products and services to meet changing customer demands have never been so intense. The transferrable skill-sets of Product Managers need to be recognised and as a profession we need to step-up.”

According to Ms. Tan, Product Management as a function has been prevalent and practiced over the last decade in Australia across multiple industries including logistics, media, financial services, sport and not for profit.

“This short heritage is both blessed and cursed,” said Ms. Tan. “On the positive side many businesses understand that there must be a team that is responsible for bringing new products to life, but because there is no common guiding standard the varied tools, knowledge and skill-sets are very confusing and this subsequent inconsistency has diluted product management as a professional discipline.”

Another challenge for Product Management is the encroachment of other populist or individually driven methods and philosophies that tend to discredit the need for solid business thinking.

“This newly accredited body of knowledge will help develop the profession as well as protect it at a time when the Australian economy is looking for new industries to fill the void left by resources and manufacturing,” said Ms. Tan, who believes that the profession can and will flourish but that a unified and best practice body of knowledge is the first step towards establishing a more robust and recognised discipline.

Fellow Australian contributor Nick Coster agrees that Product Management as a discipline needs a unified approach and a non-commercial open standard as a reference starting point.

“Some people may disagree with the contents, but at least there is now something to disagree on and discuss,” said Mr. Coster. “Too often I have been involved in discussions where the same basic arguments are debated again and again without evolving. Product management has always been important, just not well understood. The ProdBOK Guide is a critical first step to addressing this and will continue to grow and evolve in line with industry changes.”

The ProdBOK Guide represents an industry-wide effort to establish a standard for the practice of product management. The book was sponsored by the Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) and is available now via Amazon – see here for details.