Our Services: Product Management Strategy

Digital strategy insights


What is product management and when do startups need it?

Businesses that are in high-growth phases generally invest in building their product management functions too late.  Why is that? 

Here are a few questions CEOs and founders wrestle with, that lead to being late to the game of building  product management within their business.

  • What does product management even mean?
  • We’ve made it to X million dollars without a product management team, why do we need it now?
  • We’re not a tech business. We sell physical goods. We sell services. Do we really need product managers? 
  • Where do we start with building a team? 
  • If I hire a product manager, who will make sure they’re adding value?
  • If I hire a leader, what exactly will they be leading?

All of these questions add up to businesses avoiding, delaying or swirling in establishing product management expertise for their business. We get it. You didn’t start your business to pivot your career and think about product management day in and day out. 

However, you did start your business to see it grow, scale and succeed in bringing your one-of-a-kind offering to customers who need what you offer. In the early days of your business, you have to bootstrap the value that product management brings. As the business grows, CEOs and founders inevitably get pulled into new organizational needs. Anything from fundraising to addressing operational pain points, to being the spokesperson for the business in the marketplace – to name just a few of the new demands that require leadership and attention.

This leaves the core focus of developing, innovating and adapting your product offerings unattended. Products that do not have owners leading their evolution stagnate and then die.  While this may seem dramatic, it’s a common Achilles heel for businesses – as noted in articles like this one.

As Jeff Bezos highlighted in a 2017 Shareholder letter: “One thing I love about customers is, that they are divinely discontent. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’.”

A product management function defines what to build next, based on the needs of the customer, the goals of the business, and the feasibility of the technology at hand.

For this initial introduction, look for these symptoms in your business. 

  • Key performance metrics like Conversion Rate, Average Order Value, and Revenue/User are steadily declining.
  • Your teams have one – or many – lists of things to build. The list is 10x longer than the list of changes going live for your business – and growing.
  • Your engineering and design teams are constantly asking for clearer direction and more time to complete their work.
  • You have a large number of third party technologies and platforms you’re paying for, but rarely meet with the companies to ensure you’re leveraging their full suite of solutions
  • Your business is ready to make the leap into omni-channel or multi-country support, but your teams are not sure how to bring the experiences to life.

If these symptoms exist in your world,  it’s a signal your product management function needs a new strategy.  This in turn will strengthen your business – getting you to sustainable success, faster. Not sure where to begin? Schedule a call with the Flywheel Strategy team to learn more. We’ve done this a time or two (or five) – and we’re excited to support this next phase of your growth.

May 8, 2023



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