Professional services are the next challenge for product management
Professional services are the next challenge for product management. In many companies, definition of services is an ad hoc affair, nothing more than a rough guess of man-days committed in a contract. Yet professional services are a key element of the solution delivered to the market. Product management should take on a leadership role in defining repeatable services, creating a market requirements document for each type of deliverable.
Further, we believe that most companies have very outdated notions of product management and product marketing, and indeed relatively few companies in the technology industry have demonstrated the ability to do little more than simply continue to carry forward existing products and services making very minor improvements over time.
Start with understanding
Define the problems
In onsite calls, the product manager will identify customer problems, and write down the problems, just as one does with software. Call on a few every month and build a folder of call reports. Each call report contains multiple problems that we could potentially solve.
A product manager can identify the key personas for your solutions, and the problems that you need to solve. These problems drive the market requirements document. You must filter out the services that do not leverage your tools or your distinctive competence; leave these services to the generic consulting firms. Don’t cripple the definition process by presupposing software, hardware, or services–this decision will occur later in the planning process.
Review the Requirements
Identify key resources
With the list of problems in hand, have a team meeting of Product Management, Development, and Professional Services. Discuss how to approach the various customer requirements. Product managers often see software features when the right solution may be professional services. The developer may instead see that an onsite service makes more sense.
For those problems that require onsite account understanding and customization, identify the people in your services organization who can best address these problems. Discuss the problems that you’ve encountered and ask that they create a specification. The PSO expert is serving as the product architect, a ‘thinking’ role. This person may want to collaborate with others in her organization or leverage some work from a prior implementation.
With the services defined and staffed, the product manager or marketing manager can package them for sale. With understanding of the persona and the problem, the product manager defines pricing based on the problems, and creates positioning documents to drive sales sheets and other collateral. With repeatable services defined, sales people should never have to sell ‘off the price list.’ Everyone agrees that it’s generally bad when sales people make up stuff in the field.
Axentys Product Management Support
From product vision statements and road-maps to requirements management and UAT, through market analysis and project or portfolio management, Axentys product managers provide hands-on consulting support services for your most critical projects. Some of the activities our employees perform include:
- Outcome ownership
- Market analysis
- Portfolio management
- Business case
- Product road-maps
- Competitor analysis