Every Product Manager Needs Product Development Team


In today’s world, there are a number of thriving companies. There are, however, many more companies that don’t end up thriving. Don’t you ever question why? The most common reason for these entrepreneurial failures is a lack of sufficient market validation and market validation mistakes. There are many peer-reviewed studies compiled by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) that illustrates about half of all product development projects fail; this failure rate is especially much higher in smaller and startup companies.

Now, how can companies avoid this failure? The answer is simply: product roadmaps and product development! Roadmap Development is a process of discovery, creativity and problem-solving. This process is not only important for your business’ growth and success, but is also essential to understanding the steps in Product Development that immediately follows the Roadmap Development process.

You might think: Why waste time on market validation? Isn’t it better to spend time and money on getting the product into production? These details are indeed important!
"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu
The most successful businesses use roadmaps to chart their long-term development initiatives, which showcases better results than the companies that don’t! To avoid failure, you need to be asking these significant questions: Exactly what product will sell? At what price? And, using what go-to market strategy

Every company, even very small companies, needs to be good at product management.
Good and effective product management is the key ingredient in a thriving business. A product roadmap guides the business’ product development direction, helps to steer resource allocation and is an effective way to map out a series of major initiatives in an attack plan. We have listed below some useful tips on why effective product roadmaps are important agents of change:

  • Aligning a product roadmap will sharpen your focus and create a new understanding of the market, industry and customer needs.
  • Socializing the product roadmap with the management team will create alignment, increase innovation, and keep everyone focused on meeting the goal.
  • Teams tend to make better decisions than individuals, so try to get input from the entire group. A clear product roadmap that is discussed and debated can go a long way to achieving a common understanding of the goal.

Roadmap development is complicated, and rarely does any one person (let alone a product manager alone) have all of the knowledge. Information needs to be pushed to places where the people with the experience have the information they need to make effective decisions.

Know the ROI and make it public!
A working prototype (MVP) is a great first step to market validation, but it takes careful planning and a lot of work before your prototype turns into a product that can be used successfully in the real world, by real users.

Roadmaps become real when you start spending money! Do not assume anything will work until it is first tested. We suggest spending as little money as possible when building the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to test it; only scale it after you know exactly how it will work.

A roadmap breaks product initiatives into small steps allowing leaderships to make a go/no-go/pivot decision at each stage without being afraid to push out or kill initiatives misaligned with current market conditions.

Also, remember that all ideas do not turn out to be winners – and sometimes that is not clear until some money is spent. This is normal and to be expected! The most important thing is to make sure everyone on the team understands that some product initiatives will be killed; it is part of the process.

Now, how do you get the prototype engineered reliably and at a reasonable cost?

Product Development: This seemingly simple task has sent many entrepreneurs to ruins!
If it wasn’t already obvious, product development is an investment. You are going to spend money for many months, if not years, in hopes of creating revenue at some point in the future. Product development is where you’re translating product strategy into reality, namely the tactical decisions for a series of major roadmap initiatives.

Ultimately, the goal of the product roadmap features & releases is to make this ROI (Return on Investment) as big as possible! And, like any good leader, it is essential to communicate the goal to your engineering team. Remind everyone why each roadmap feature is valuable to the company, how it aligns with the product mission, its strategies and OKR (Objectives and Key Results). Since product managers rely heavily on cross-functional product development teams to undertake their significant roadmap initiatives (User Experience/User interface designer, Engineers, Quality Assurance, Data Analyst, etc.), communicating the "why" grounds the team.

People, culture and leadership, although difficult to measure, proves to be the strongest driver of performance results. Product management plays a lead role in championing the roadmap effort in the best performing businesses, thus creating a positive climate and culture for constructive solutions. Each team member is a part of the product development team and has an equal stake in it.

The mission of the product is indeed necessary information for all engineering and product development workers on the team to have. The number of engineering hours needed to develop a product release is primarily driven by the choice of the roadmap initiatives and corresponding scope requirements. Make sure the short-term roadmap initiative’s scope conditions are complete, accurate, and understood by the engineering team. These are referred to as product requirements.

Some concepts for any given set of product requirements will take significantly more engineering hours to develop than others. Spending a few pennies, ensuring that the right requirements are defined, refined and validated will save dollars in product development and delivery.

The biggest thing to do is to assemble a team! Product requirement generation is very much a team sport. Success comes from how well they play as a team and less about the individual.

Developing on requirements is different than designing a product or building a prototype; deciding what technology or approach to use engineering these requirements can mean the difference between success and failure. If this is a flawed decision, a lot of time and money can be wasted quickly and easily.

Thus, a product development team that can help make the trade-offs are the essence of great engineering!

Successful Product Development
For a product manager to successfully move product development teams into execution, follow these 6 essential steps:

  1. Write a scope statement breaking it down into "must have", "nice to have" and "wishlist".
  2. Write a one-page product requirements document focusing only on the "must have" scope.
  3. Identify both functional and non-functional requirements (ex: Security, Performance, Capacity, Recovery)
  4. Complete User Experience Design (UX) completing wireframes annotated with non-functional details.
  5. Create the User Interface Design (UI) on top of reviewed and green-lit wireframes.
  6. Do an engineering verification discussing functional and non-functional requirements.

Remember to always have more than one person review each stage. Don’t let the team progress to the next stage until the existing stage has been thoroughly validated. This takes discipline, but it is very cheap insurance that will lower product development costs and time.

Without a good Product Roadmap and the Product Requirements exercise, your Product Development team really won’t know where they are going. Corroborate that your team is all on the same page and ensure they each have a different picture in their minds on exactly what the new product features will be.
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Bain Public offers consistent roadmap planning processes & tools for business leaders and product managers organized around what motivates, inspires and improves growth. We offer a variety of blog posts, e-books and approaches designed to help organizations understand their digital strategies, introduce elements of roadmapping and establish product-led change amongst the senior leaders and managers. Our approach, product, expert advice and coaching helps entangle complex technology, people and roadmap dynamics. For more information, visit bainpublic.com or call 514–442–8487

Written by Jessica Scandaliato. Thanks to Paul Ortchanian for contributing research to this article as well as reading drafts and overseeing aspects of its publication. Also, if you have any feedback or criticism about this article, then shoot us an email info@bainpublic.com.