Sandi Piggin – Product Development & Marketing Manager at Ferrit.co.nz
Ferrit.co.nz is an online shopping mall in New Zealand. She has a team of Product Managers working with her at Ferrit. Prior to Ferrit Sandi worked for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) as a Product Manager and at Hewlett Packard as a Channel Partner Portal Manager.
We asked Sandi our questions on Product Management; this is what she had to say.
What is Product Management?
It’s the Planning and marketing of a new product through all stages of the product lifecycle. A product manager manages the process to deliver a product to take it to market in addition to managing a portfolio of products that have been launched and taken to market to continually promote and ensure the positioning is correct.
In a nutshell, it involves product planning and creation of new products and marketing to take them to market through various marketing activities.
What do you believe are the main responsibilities of Product Managers?
Product planning and marketing – as per above. In addition there is an element of Product Development and Project Management involved in these roles.
Having worked as a Product Manager in Telecommunications and now for an e-commerce site – do you see any significant differences between the roles?
I don’t find too many significant differences purely due to both environments being start-up ventures so the cultures were very similar. The biggest challenge is gaining cross-functional agreement on the priorities for product development through detailed business cases and proving the ROI to the business. The biggest difference was the product offering where I was focussed on ISP service offerings at the ISP to support and add value to the wireless broadband product by both meeting the offerings of other ISP’s and a focus on differentiating our service offerings. With an eCommerce online shopping mall website the product “is” the website, therefore the goal is to work on continuing to improve the overall customer experience and usability of the site with an objective to improve conversion on the site for both Ferrit and our Retailers.
What are the main issues facing Product Managers in general?
I believe the biggest challenge is managing relationships across different functions in the business. Involved in the product lifecycle tends to be marketing, legal/commercial and IT and ensuring everyone agrees on the priorities in hand and managing different personality types and other business priorities. You have to be forever the diplomat. Another challenge is to ensure you continually meet the market requirements and better still exceed them, so knowing what future opportunities there are to meet customer needs is key and therefore understanding the customer and the market through strategic thinking and planning makes a successful Product Manager.
Thanks Sandi – I completely agree with Sandi about needing to be diplomatic (I wonder how many Product Managers are middle children?). When you work with so many different parts of the business, you’re always trying to keep somebody happy.