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Talk about the work content of each stage of the product manager (1)

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Some time ago, I tried to train the company HR, trying to make a detailed analysis and explanation of the work content, level and recruitment criteria of the product manager. Just here, I’m going to sort it into an article, and I’ll give you an explanation for the reasons why the column doesn’t know what the reason is:

Recently, I have considered doing some new business for the career counseling of product managers with more than 3 years of work experience. I also welcome all product managers. After reading the article, I will discuss the skills growth of the product positions and career development.

(But to be honest, after writing, I feel that the article is reasonable and has a lot of analysis. The examples are not enough, maybe it is not easy to understand. You should look at it first, and welcome more comments. Maybe I will be free again. More modifications, add some small examples in the statement)

The basic concept - what exactly is the product manager doing?

Job seekers, or HR/headhunters who are recruiting product managers, the first thing I want to figure out is what the product manager is doing.

In the birthplace of the product manager, the fast-dissipating industry, the product manager is coordinating resources to set product production and supply plans, formulating brand positioning, and coordinating marketing, channel, and sales work that match it. It seems that the relationship with R&D is not large (may be See "Product Manager's First Book").

I only talked about the dryness of the product manager of the Internet company. In Internet companies, product managers can basically understand, figure out what products to do, and coordinate the people that company colleagues make it.

Just this positioning seems to be very similar to the CEO of a startup, or the positioning of a new business leader (at least a product director). This is actually the case. If you can clearly understand what products you want to do, it basically determines the company's largely commercial positioning and market positioning. This is mostly the boss's decision--and it's no wonder that the red-shirt leader and the product manager are the prospective CEOs. People.

So returning to reality, most of the product manager titles, their specific work content, is to help the boss to figure out what products to do (who to whom to use the product, what problems to solve, what features to do in the product) Make a complete product design (may also figure out how the corresponding offline services work together), coordinate technology development, and make products (and then may also provide corresponding services for docking operations).

If you want to classify your work, you can look at it like this:

  1. demand analysis
  2. product design
  3. Research and development assistance
  4. Operational coordination

However, the different levels of product personnel, the division of labor in these work content, is very different. In Internet companies, there are basically several levels:

  1. Junior - Product Specialist / Assistant
  2. Intermediate - Product Manager / Senior Manager
  3. Senior - Product Director / Vice President / CEO

In the junior and middle-level product positions, it is the product manager we often say, but most of its work is still in the implementation stage of product design and product development. Although there is work for demand analysis, most of them are only in the category of functional requirements analysis. For senior product personnel, perhaps it is the real "product manager." Because at this level, as well as the status of the company in which you are located, you have the power to participate in product decisions and really decide what to do.

I drew a picture, carefully divided the work of the product position, and compared the work content of the product personnel at different levels. At the same time, it is also easy to analyze, why should the requirements of the product manager be put forward one or the other. For recruiting HR/headhunters, you may have a clearer understanding of the JD requirements for product positions in the future.

(The number 1 , 2, 3, corresponding to the main tasks of the junior high school product manager work)


Next, let's take a look at this picture to introduce the product content and level differences of the product manager.

However, due to space limitations, the first article I may only talk about the requirements analysis and product definition.



The initial work of the product manager - product definition, defining what products

When I was doing this product manager job analysis training,

He sent a new book, "From Ideas to Products," to his newly published product manager . The title of the book is also a good indicator of the beginning of the product work - "points."

Demand analysis is actually the source process of "pip". From the demand analysis product conception, this is the earliest and even the most important decision-making process that determines what the product does and how to do it.

For most products, we have to answer these questions:

Just relying on intuitive users and so-called market opportunities, it is not enough to imagine products to do. For a few new products, it’s crucial to figure out these few issues:

  1. Who is the user I am targeting? What are the needs of solving them? - Analyze demand information and find pain points
  2. My product solution can really solve user problems - verification of the solution
  3. Is there a similar product on the market? The unique value of the product
  4. What are the characteristics of my products, which can better solve user problems and are more attractive to users - the competitiveness of products
  5. Can we make this product? How much will it cost to achieve a competency assessment?
  6. How much business value can be brought after doing this product, how to make money - business value analysis

Relatively speaking, you can use the work of answering the above questions as the most important part of the needs analysis. Next, we can roughly divide the four work items:

  1. Collect information and demand analysis
  2. Conception Solution - Feasibility Analysis
  3. Product positioning analysis
  4. Business value analysis

After these tasks are completed, the product definitions are completed, and the scope and boundaries of the things are done until the implementation phase. Next, let me explain.



I. Collecting information and demand analysis

Demand analysis is actually a process of arranging various kinds of ideas, analyzing and judging, screening and polishing into a "product concept / idea" or "reliable idea."

However, ideas never come out of thin air, so product managers need to have good quality skills, get information from outside, and get a full source of ideas.

From the product point of view, it is necessary to confirm, what problems from the users or problems in the industry need us to solve, or for our existing products or services, what problems still need us to improve.

For products engaged in product development and implementation, demand analysis is more about transforming abstract business needs into very specific functional requirements and even program logic that can be understood by technicians.

Initial product positions: Most of them are based on existing products and are improved. At this time, the most basic job of the product manager is to chat with the product users, or wait for the company's operators to get feedback, get feedback from the users, and collect their expectations and requirements into products that can improve the product or develop new functions. The idea is the most basic needs analysis. Putting yourself as an ordinary user and trying it out from the user's point of view, like a "red dressing master" said that a second becomes white, is also a way to find problems and find out the demand. There are some simple issues that can add functional requirements directly to the technical engineer's task queue. At the same time, collecting as much as possible of competing products from other peers, or other similar products, can also inspire product personnel to get "inspiration", find new features and improved design options that can be added. So many of the peers spit, the job of the (bad) product manager is to stare at the peers.

Mid-level product positions: Further, the product manager should be able to quickly respond to the user's expectations and basic functional R&D needs. If you follow up on the new features of competing products, you must understand the new features of others. What problem to solve. If the user's needs and feedback and the problem you are trying to solve are relatively complex, you need to do more analysis and verification. The product manager should confirm the authenticity of the demand information feedback by a few people through appropriate research methods and information channels, and can be divided into more specific and specific problems and user expectations, and then gradually find a solution. Of course, in most cases, the product manager does not have time to do careful research and verification, and can only rely on his own understanding of the user or the operational experience of similar products. In addition, for the collected feedback information, the research and development needs of the organization should also be able to analyze and judge the importance to the user and the business process, so as to determine the priority of solving the demand task. Relative to the initial product manager, most of the work depends on the improvement of the products that have been on the line. For the analysis of the demand, there is also a clear research direction based on the function of some products, which belongs to the proposition composition. Mid-to-high-end product managers usually have more freedom to find practitioners in related businesses and explore the direction of business development.

High-end product positions: Demand information, in addition to simple direct or indirect users or practitioners, will have more opportunities to gain insight into macro industry opportunities, market changes, and discover that it may not be the obvious needs or business opportunities of users. . Product managers at this stage should have a more keen business sense and personal resources to obtain valuable business information.


Under the big company system, in fact, the most common business or demand, or from the boss level, layer by layer to the company's business needs, or the above-mentioned already clear requirements, from top to bottom. At this time, the product manager, learn to understand the boss's expectations, and arrange the priorities. If you feel that the boss's request is unreasonable, and reasonable persuasion and resistance, it is another special ability of product managers. . .

Common Misunderstandings in Work Content - User Research

User research, a concept that has been widely mentioned, is actually the work at the stage of collecting demand information. However, the word is emphasized too much. In actual work, product managers actually have little chance to be systematic, or it is difficult to have a complete time and work alone. Most of the time, user research is scattered and communicates with users, communicates with colleagues in operation, reads user feedback information provided by them, exchanges intelligence information from peers, and reads user statistics reports in the industry. During the activity.

Only in a very small number of big Internet, will there be a time period or even a post to do this work, and in a very small amount of time, product managers will have time and energy to do user interviews and questionnaires specifically for user research. Investigation, etc.

Many times, research on requirements may not be true for individual users or groups. From the macro market statistics and industry statistics reports, there are also many discoveries. As Baidu’s product, Bai Niu Yujun said, “Users are not people, they are a collection of needs”. Therefore, many times of user research is not researching users and researchers, but researching the business and researching the market.

Many other industries, such as consumer goods and automobile manufacturing, also have departments and positions dedicated to user market research to do market research and data analysis. From the perspective of career development and recruitment, these positions and junior product positions have certain personnel adaptability.



Conception Solution - Feasibility Assessment

Compared with user research and market research work in other industries, product managers began to show differences in this work. Market research in other industries usually involves collecting information, statistical analysis, sorting out new insights, or summarizing the unique appeals of the segmented population, and the work is handed over to the R&D department, the advertising marketing department or other executive departments for discussion.

In the Internet company, the product manager position, the information needs to be further digested, conceived into a new solution, consider whether the user can accept, or product development, can not support the business link under the wiring .

Whether a solution is feasible usually includes:

  1. Product technology feasibility
  2. Operational or service feasibility
  3. Commercial feasibility.

The feasibility of product technology mainly refers to the expected technology development and can achieve the desired function.

Now that artificial intelligence is very hot, the basic tools for deep learning are perfect, and it seems that it has become nothing. So, it is certainly good to develop a portable artificial intelligence teacher who can teach people to speak English. Can this seemingly simple idea be really achieved? How can such product development be completed in a few months or years? What data or resources are needed? Whether it is the current level of technology, and still can not achieve the desired results within a few years - these are the product managers at the beginning of the project, need to consider clearly.

Of course, this is mainly due to the expectation of relative functional realization. For example, the search engine is very complicated, and now it is necessary to re-do a full-network search similar to Baidu, and the search results can meet most people, it is difficult. But if you just look up the tens of thousands of products in a small e-commerce website, it is much easier.

To discuss the feasibility of operations or services, because many products, not just technical functions, need business needs, docking appropriate services. A reliable solution requires a complete application scenario from the user's needs, or a business process related to it, to find a solution that can solve the user's problem, be accepted by the user, and conform to their behavioral habits, while ensuring that the company Online products and corresponding offline services can be done - the so-called "business logic can not run."


Like the hot-selling used car trading platform, product personnel must carefully research and analyze the business process of buying and selling used cars, in order to conceive a matching network trading platform, and inevitably to access and traditional offline business. Car inspection and evaluation. If you do not conduct in-depth analysis and research on the business, it is difficult to think about specific product solutions.

So whether the solution is reliable or not, it is natural for product managers who need more business experience to judge.

The feasibility of business, we will be more in the business positioning to discuss.

The first-level product manager needs to evaluate the feasible work. It is relatively simple, that is, user feedback, or internal operation complaints, changes required on the product, whether the technology is feasible, or how complex. Most of these are the adjustments to the product design of the business process / navigation structure / sorting strategy / page information focus, the cost is not high and do not have to spend too much time to evaluate, it is better to judge the priority in the demand analysis ( If you have a problem, you can hand it over to the superior.) Some of the new product features are designed to be optimized and optimized on existing solutions/competition designs. If the problem to be solved involves a larger scope, or is more responsible, to conceive a complete functional system or a new product design/solution, it is up to the next advanced stage of work.

Mid-level product managers need to be able to conceive a complete functional system in a product, or a new product solution. From an empirical point of view, they should already have a solution to understand competing products or traditional methods, be able to quickly combine business needs, and conceive new solutions that can be accepted by users for discussion and analysis. They must also be able to judge the logical and possible difficulties and difficulties of the product business, and evaluate the possibility from the perspective of functional technology and judge the expected effect. Some product solutions do not depend solely on technology research and development, but also require the cooperation of the company's operational resources. Then, for the feasibility evaluation of the product solution, the product manager is required to have the experience to judge the feasibility of the product operation, and even involves a higher level and commercial feasibility.

High-end product managers need more business experience, market knowledge, and even business logic to evaluate the feasibility of a complete product offering. Or for a complex solution, find uncertainties or key obstacles, and conduct in-depth investigations to confirm or resolve. The senior level product manager has a more comprehensive understanding of the actual service docking and product operation possibilities, and is not limited to the functional R&D perspective. It can actually evaluate the solution to realize the complete product service process from online to offline. Feasibility.

So the ability to quickly plan a solution and assess the feasibility is as an entrepreneurial product manager, or to be able to participate in the company's business decisions, the most important difference in capabilities.

In the Internet industry, where the speed of development is so fast, product personnel are far from having sufficient time to conduct research on the user market, or to slowly study the feasibility of the business plan. Whether there is enough product experience to derive the feasibility of the business, and whether there is enough business experience as the basis, it is the ability to shoot the correct decision probability when "shooting the head" in product decision-making.

In addition to the logical derivation ability of the product manager, it is probably accumulated in the relevant business field.



Market positioning analysis

If it is just because of the user's needs, can come up with a product idea, product development is generally feasible, and it is only the young entrepreneurs - the most common mistakes made by the junior product manager. In fact, I have been in the Internet industry for so many years, and I have seen too many similar projects before and after falling into the same pit. There are too many "entrepreneurs" who are re-creating the wheel, probably interviewing several users, even Market research did not do it and went to work.

So after you have ideas, you should look at whether there are similar products in the market. Is it worthwhile for yourself/company to do it, that is, product managers should have common sense to do competitive analysis.

Regardless of whether product managers or entrepreneurs feel that their ideas are unique, the real world is that the market must exist in some way, with services and services that resemble user needs and market needs. Even if it is not an Internet product, there are services in a very traditional form. Before the appearance of dating websites and recruitment websites, there have been marriage agencies and employment agencies in the real world.

To do competitive product research and analysis, on the one hand, to establish the market positioning of products, to find strong product value and differentiated competitiveness, on the other hand, is to further analyze the feasibility of the business. Because of the similar products and services that have existed in the market, the obstacles that have not been sustained due to certain factors are also the new products/services you have conceived, which may be overlooked in the feasibility analysis.

In a mature commercial company, the job of market positioning analysis should be done before the product is established. Therefore, it is often not the personnel of the initial product positions, and the decision-making work that can participate.

Market positioning analysis of products. It can be divided:

  1. Core value positioning
  2. Market positioning plan

In general, the core value proposition of a product often corresponds to the “pain point” that the user group is targeting in the beginning of the demand information we collect, or the product solution. All functional improvements and product design must be established around this point.

The market positioning analysis of products is to ensure that the products have strong enough functional features or superior performance after competing with similar products. After being launched in the market, they can effectively win users. Conversely, in order to impress a certain type of user group, it is necessary to first clarify which functional features of the product they care about, in order to effectively plan the product, and use limited resources to make qualified products earlier.

For the junior and middle-level product managers, even if they do not have the opportunity to participate in the product positioning decision, but also understand the decision-making analysis of the product, in order to do a product design.

And the positioning choices of all products can achieve the desired differentiated features, and have to rely on all the company's resources, product managers have no chance to play freely.

The “positioning” described here, and the marketing methodology, use the user's mind to differentiate and promote the promotion, there is considerable consistency. Only in the initial stage of product/service design planning, a targeted user population is set up, giving it the ability to impress these people, which is different from the characteristic product attributes of other products, can be applied to advertising marketing and publicity, and has competition for users. force.

The choice based on the commercial market - the "positioning" of the product is the foundation of the "positioning" of marketing.

However, the establishment of core values ​​is fundamental, and the differentiation for market positioning is a marketing tool. I have seen many products in order to seek the so-called differentiation, and deviate from the core of the problem to be solved, which requires product managers to have strong logic and value judgment.

It must be said that the value positioning and market positioning of products is a complicated task that is not easy to complete. Only those product managers who have very rich experience in market business or who already have strong knowledge methods and practical experience can do well. It is even said that this task should be an important responsibility of the CEO in a startup company. In a small company, the core product determines the strategic positioning of the company.

The positioning plan of the product is mostly in the stage of new product planning, and there will be such systematic analysis work. However, for the primary product manager who works in the company, in most cases, it is difficult to participate in the product positioning analysis. Most of the company's ability to participate in decision-making is experienced middle and senior product managers. In most cases, the primary product manager is only addressing the relatively clear R&D needs of the already established product positioning and functionality.


Among the work content, in the marketing advertising industry, engaged in strategic work, or consulting companies, strategic departments who have done strategic consulting, market analysis, or have the ability to match.



Business analysis


Being able to determine the positioning and value of the product, you can begin to carefully calculate the business account of the product.

The value of the product is mostly, how much does it cost, and how much profit can it generate?

To let users choose a new product/service, it must be the value of using the new product - the cost of using the new product - the cost of switching to the new product (learning cost, updated material cost) > the value of the old product - old The cost of using the product.

For companies and teams, you must also test the commercial value of the product> product R & D + operating costs.

For most product managers, you may not have to consider the issue of making money at the beginning. At the maturity of the product, there will also be a dedicated commercial product manager who is responsible for the part of the company's products that make money – the advertising platform, or the revenue operations.

Then when companies need to consider making money, calculate and analyze the operating costs of the product, how to generate revenue, the scale and expectations of revenue (even split into a lot of specific operational data estimates, business data analysis), and optimize operating costs. As well as trying to improve revenue, how to optimize product structure or operation mode, it is also possible to have product managers to participate in the work.

For most primary products, it is difficult to participate in this type of work unless it is specifically responsible for business realization. In large Internet companies, or traditional companies, this type of work is done by the company's strategic department. If you change to a small company, then at the beginning of the business, this part of the work is the work that the founders and partners have to do when they do business planning - even the most rough estimate in the business model.

Usually, people with a good business background or financial background can better understand how business analysis should be done. Otherwise, for the accustomed to research users, research needs, how to micro, figurative product services, estimate the macro user scale, pay market expectations, need more experience comparison from existing product operation data. Therefore, practitioners/executives with more mature product operation experience may have an advantage in the business analysis skills.



Most of the product definitions are things that the boss does.

In theory, the product manager's demand analysis and product definition analysis have explained so much, but most product managers may feel that they rarely do this part of the work, because in a company before the establishment of a product When the colleague of the product position starts working, the demand analysis, market positioning, and business analysis work included in the product definition should be done by the bosses who have already made their heads (in the product manager's work step diagram of my painting, this piece of content, Most of them are also marked as work that middle and high-end product managers can afford).

When product managers start to enter R&D, most of them are based on the products already defined in the minds of the bosses, researching user usage scenarios and behavior habits, and then reflecting them on specific product design plans; or after the products are online, Then adjust the product according to the feedback from the user. So at this time, whether the product can achieve great success depends largely on the boss's product definition and market positioning. Is it right? Many Internet companies have invested a lot of R&D resources and even working capital. The products are eventually aborted or shut down, which leads to the painstaking efforts of product managers and technology developers. Most of them are. The efforts of product managers have become the sacrifice of the boss's failure to make decisions, and they have to complain a lot.

However, if you can develop solid product design, R&D management capabilities in each product project, and then slowly build up the demand analysis, market positioning, and business analysis capabilities mentioned in this article. More opportunities to participate in the decision-making discussions with the boss are also the necessary experience and experience wealth in personal growth.

In the next article (although I don't know when I can write it out), I will discuss most of the product managers who are really responsible for product design and project management.