Let’s take a look at product management in B2B from its inception to the present day. You have to go back to the 1930s to find traces of product management. Hewlett Packard was one of the first technology companies to organize itself by products in the 1940s. After that, most Silicon Valley companies created product manager positions at their inception.
Product Management in B2B
This discipline is not new but it is evolving rapidly and continuously, attracting more and more companies.
Scrum Appeared just Before the Agile Manifesto was Written in 2001
He introduced the concept of “Product Owner”. This is a person who represents the customer and tells the developers the requirements for what is to be built.
The product owner (PO) is in charge of the strategic vision of one or more products, from idea to market. Day-to-day tasks include market research and competitor analysis, interaction with customers, discussions about product promotion with the marketing team, and interaction with data analysts (if this role exists within the company).
In the case of a digital product, these tasks also include exchanges on product design with the UI/UX designer(s), development discussions with the technical team, or other topics such as data migration, sprint release announcements, etc.
The product owner is the guarantor of the release – or not – of new features. He regularly leads product committees in order to gather needs and feedback from other departments: marketing, sales… If a feature is too complex, he/she can decide to release a “downgraded” version, i.e. simplified compared to the initially expressed need, in a Test & Learn logic. He always thinks in terms of “business value”.
The Limitations of Theoretical Approaches to Product Management in B2B
B2B product management requires product owners to conduct in-depth discussions with their customers, travel to visit sites and keep up with industry news. It’s a real learning curve, sometimes long and complex. Domain expertise is key.
In B2B, the buyers are often not the users. The product owner must therefore develop an in-depth knowledge of these two targets. He must thus define personas for buyers and personas for users.
The relationship that the product owner has with the sales department is very different in B2B than in B2C. In B2B, the product owner must consider the sales department as a customer in its own right (an internal customer). The objective of the product owner will be to provide his “customer” with precise, qualified information, enabling him to achieve his main objective: to develop the company’s turnover.
Trends and Innovations in B2B Product Management
Product owners are gaining more and more independence in the company. In the world of SaaS software. For example, their role is becoming more and more essential. Evolving within a complex ecosystem, they have to manage strategic partnerships, relationships with developers, design, marketing, and sales. All in an environment where data and artificial intelligence are increasingly present.
Tools and Methods in Product Management
The product owner supervises and uses many tools on a daily basis, including the product backlog. This lists the requirements collected to create and improve the product.
The product owner also puts user stories into practice. User stories are a simple and understandable description of a feature, expressed in the following form:
- “As”: role of the person expressing the need
- “I want”: the need as such.
- “In order to”: the expected benefit.
For example, a user story can be expressed as follows:
- As an online buyer on the XYZ website.
- I want to receive an email confirmation of my order.
- In order to be reassured (order summary, confirmation that it has been registered, customer service contact information…)
The product owner will also need prototyping software such as Balsamiq, Mockplus, Mockflow, Pidoco or Sketch in his toolbox. He will also need project management software such as Asana, Gitlab, Jira, MeisterTask, Monday or Trello.
The links of B2B product marketing