In order to provide an overview of B2B product management from its initiation to the present day, we must go back to the 1930s. Hewlett Packard was one of the first technology companies to get itself organised by product lines in the 1940s. Subsequently, most Silicon Valley companies created product manager positions when they were founded.
Product management in B2B
Product management is not new, but it is constantly evolving and is more and more pervasive.
What is a product owner?
A “Product Owner” (PO) is someone who represents the client and tells the developers the requirements of what needs to be built.
The Product Owner is in charge of the strategic vision of one or more products, from their idea to market launch. On a day-to-day basis, their duties encompass:
- Market research and competitor analysis
- Customer interactions
- Product promotion discussions with the marketing team
- Discussions with data analysts (if this role exists within the company).
When the product in question is digital, these tasks also include product design discussions with the UI/UX designers, development discussions with the technical team, or other topics such as data migration, etc.
The product owner is in charge of the product launch. He/she regularly leads product committees to gather needs and feedback from other departments: marketing, sales, etc. If he/she judges a feature too complex, he/she may decide to release a simplified version of it.
The limits of theoretical approaches in B2B product management
B2B product management requires product owners to conduct detailed interviews with their customers, on-site visits, and keep an eye on everything that happens in their industry. Progress is achieved through learning by doing.
As it often occurs in B2B, the buyers are not the users. Therefore, the product owner must develop a thorough understanding of the goals of these two populations. Defining B2B personae is part of his/her remit.
In B2B, the product owner’s relationship with the sales department is very different from that of its B2C counterpart. In B2B, the product owner has to consider the sales department as a full-fledged customer. The owner of the product will then be to feed his internal client with precise and qualified information. This allows him to achieve his main objective, i.e. develop the volume of business of the company.
Trends and innovations in B2B product management
The role of product owners is increasingly essential for businesses and especially in the SaaS business.
Their ecosystem is complex. Setting up strategic partnerships within this ecosystem, both from a marketing and sales point of view is key to their role.
Tools and methods in product management
The Product Owner monitors and uses many tools daily, including the Product Backlog. The product backlog incorporates the wishlist to improve the product.
The Product Owner also implements User Stories. These are simple and understandable descriptions of a feature, expressed as follows:
- “As”: type of user
- “I want”: an action
- “So that”: a benefit/value
For example, a user story can be expressed as follows:
- As an online shopper on the XYZ site
- I want to receive an order confirmation email
- So that I have peace of mind (order summary, registration confirmation, customer service contact details…)
The product owner will also need prototyping software such as Balsamiq, Mockplus, Mockflow, Pidoco, or Sketch. You’ll also need project management software like Asana, Gitlab, Jira, MeisterTask, Monday, or Trello.
B2B Product Marketing Links
- The Different Professions of Product Management
- The Ultimate Guide to Product Management
- Product managers for the digital world