5 Minutes With Jeff Lash (Elsevier)

Jeff Lash, Product Director at Elsevier

I met Jeff Lash at the Software Product Management Conference in Boston 2007 and he kindly agreed to speak to Brainmates about his thoughts on Product Management.

Jeff not only works full time but is also a prolific writer and has an excellent blog called How to be a Good Product Manager.

Describe Product Management

Most things in life aren’t self-organizing — they need some entity to take the lead and pull all of the disparate pieces together. Sports teams have coaches. Ships have captains. Products have managers.

Product management is responsible for the overall success of the product and everything that contributes to its success. That includes everything from the concept to the design to the marketing to the support and all the pieces in between. It involves coordination, collaboration, and communication between the various people, decisions, and tasks that go into creating and managing a successful product.

Where are your main responsibilities as a Product Manager at Elsevier?

I am Product Director for MD Consult, an online subscription service offering clinical reference information to medical professionals. Most of my time is spent understanding the needs of the market; identifying changes or enhancements to make the product more valuable to our customers and users, both current and potential; working to ensure successful delivery of those changes and enhancements; and coordinating with other groups to communicate with the market and address any issues that arise.

What are the main issues facing Product Managers in general and at Elsevier?

Time management is one of the biggest challenges in product management in general. There are so many various aspects of the job that each could take up all of your time. The trick is learning how to best use your time and ensure that you are focusing on the areas where you can be most effective and provide the most value to the product and the organization.

As a publishing company, one of the things that’s different about product management at Elsevier compared to other software or consumer technology companies is that content is such a crucial part of our products. The features, functionality and design need to work together with the information itself to produce a successful product.

Understanding the needs of the scientists, students, and health professionals that we serve is as much about understanding what they need and want from their interaction with the product as it is about the content that they utilize. I’ve learned a great deal from talking with medical professionals and learning how they access and use the information that we publish to practice medicine and improve patient care.

Thank you Jeff for taking the time to share your views on Product Management. We love your quote “Sports team have coaches, ships have captains and products have managers.”