I lead a team and we deliver ‘product like’ hardcore digital platforms. The outputs of our work are non-marketing products. Like a restaurant's mobile app that lets you order your meal ahead of time for example. People always think that product managers operate this very critical, high-leverage function that, when executed correctly, greatly facilitates the leap past prototypes into a steady return of profits. These are products with revenue models tied to the technology. But there are some who offer the product approach as a service where products are shipped without the purpose of becoming sole revenue generators.
Offering Product Management as a service often means translating an emerging product Strategy/Vision into an amazing customer experience. These products often exist to promote or sell a core business online. They exist because of a company's desire to make something with utility and longevity. A banking app can eliminate barriers to service by allowing users to 'snap a photo of their cheque. An E-commerce site can allow a company to pursue a strategic goal of offering its products online. Contrary to a true product, the primary objective is about finding new and innovative ways to fulfill a customer need.
These products also tend not to be on the advertising side of the fence. They don’t define how a true product "shows up" in the marketplace. Their purpose is to improve customer satisfaction via digital means.
Scale it vs Nail It
Product Management as service companies doesn't always rely on continuous improvements to create their product. The overall process is less rigorous than true product companies who build platforms and business models from beginning to distribution.
Dealing with the pressures of start-up to scale-up and thinking of how to increasing revenue growth and profits is not front and center. Instead, at the forefront of our efforts is the client.
A client who participates directly with us in an intensely collaborative process based on specific measures of success, rapid prototyping, testing, and improvement. Ultimately we’re given one chance to take a solution to market. One chance to nail it accompanied by a spike of our stress level. Our role is to use product strategy, user research, design, technology and analytics to prevent our client from forcing us to implement a lesser solution.
Having limited turns at the feedback loop requires a ‘product like’ approach mixed with an ability to "read" a client's emotional state. It takes knowing our client to prevent train-wrecks. We don't want to misread a situation and end up losing them due to confusion and miscommunication. We want to deliver value and get a second chance to iterate and improve.
We end up enduring the rigor of creating a product and taking it to market. So don’t be confused when I refer to it as Product Management as a service.