Product management has at least three tasks: product analysis, product concept and continuous product optimization. As soon as a chance for marketing a product arises, the product manager determines whether the company has all the necessary resources to seize the opportunity. 

From creating the product strategy to roadmaps, the PM is the guarantor of operational success. He deals with product features, customer expectations and market criteria for the product launch, as well as stakeholder communication. In this context, the product manager has not only product-related but also market-related tasks.    

Primarily, product managers are responsible for supporting the company's overall product strategy and objectives, with the business interest at heart. They are expected to deliver a unique and differentiated product. They collaborate with designers, developers, marketing managers, QA, sales professionals, and business owners to ensure product requirements are clearly defined and analyzed.    

Challenges in product management - what is urgent?   

To master the complex and diverse tasks with confidence, an effective PM identifies the challenges while working together with departments such as product design, development, marketing, and go-to-market. Performing strategic product management can be the solution to how product managers deal with increasingly complex tasks and requirements.   

Challenging means, for example, not being able to fully set up the process, or having to deal with a lack of communication within the product team. A Gartner study surveyed 205 product managers about their top challenges. The respondents mentioned what strategies should be pursued in the coming year to improve the product development process, as well as what are the industry challenges and methodologies used.    

Among the main challenges identified in the survey are tasks like:   

  • Developing CX-focused products and services   
  • Prioritizing product improvement   
  • Defining the product and service strategy    
  • Improving tools and processes within the company   

In addition, the respondents believe that defining the product and service strategy, target group segmentation and market opportunity exploitation are critical tasks.  

Operational efficiency in production - how do you manage it? 

Productivity improvement in manufacturing companies involves several strategies and techniques to deliver high-quality goods to customers as cost-effectively and timely as possible. Resources, production, distribution, and inventory management are common aspects of operational efficiency. They include continuous optimization of equipment, product processes, and employee performance. Manufacturers often invest in lean manufacturing training to track down wasted production steps and eliminate the non-revenue generating activities or steps. Efficient production ensures that... 

  • ... the end customer receives added value for the products purchased.   
  • ...the manufacturer can achieve more sales in the next quarter. 

If one wants to introduce operational efficiency in production, some essential framework conditions should be reviewed. However, the question remains whether one wants to improve cost reduction, maximize productivity of working time, or optimize software infrastructure. As market trends are constantly changing, competitive companies must constantly optimize or even reinvent their internal processes. In manufacturing, the focus is often on raw material, process, and product. Yet apps, technologies and software are also potential productivity hurdles. The cues to increase operational efficiency must be usable in all areas of production.    

Examples of activities that improve operational efficiency in production: 

1. Constantly monitor and minimize waste 

Waste is a broad term. It can mean anything from employee labour hours, energy, to materials. Specific to manufacturing, one of the biggest sources is material waste. Identify which processes generate the most waste and optimize them to reduce it to acceptable levels. Your excess waste can be converted into new materials. If you can no longer use the extra materials internally, there is always the option to resell them.   

2. Data-based decisions are key    

Isolated metrics and production data are no longer a problem these days. Now, thanks to technological advancements, it is possible to analyze large amounts of data in real-time. This allows you to see exactly where existing processes are flawed or what conditions are affecting current efficiency. For example, it may become clear that people are going through too many unnecessary steps when operating a machine. In this case, the solution may be to either organize employee training or plan an optimization investment. 

3. Implement automation of processes using RPA   

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) involves implementing software to automate manual tasks and eliminate significant repetition for employees. Tasks that are typically well-suited for RPA include order fulfilment, transportation management and regulatory compliance. RPA is particularly useful for improving and optimizing error-prone processes.     

However, a modest improvement in optimal efficiency is a small success in the context of today's fast-changing trends. The greater the product manager's engagement in the optimization process, the more effective can production efficiency be improved. 

Conclusion 

Regarding the optimization opportunities of the end-to-end product lifecycle, the respondents of the Gartner study came to the following conclusions: a better differentiation through a strong unique selling proposition, a better Time-to-Market for products and services and achievement of financial targets and milestones.  

To be committed to following best practices, feedback is especially important. Both internal and external stakeholders are potential sources of feedback that a product manager can approach for valuable information. So, don't forget to ask questions and be prepared to receive constructive feedback at any time. Remember that constructive criticism can be a catalyst for change towards successful product management. 

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