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Managing the Product Life Cycle – Sharing the Load

As a product iterates through cycles of development and releases to market, the shared experiences, skills and knowledge of product management and product marketing can make a real difference.

Any definitions of the two functions in an organisation can result in a potential overlap of responsibilities or the risk of omitting vital work streams. When viewed over time, it is best to consider a continuous cyclical process with both disciplines collaborating for an optimum outcome.

In this Product Cycle what is really important to note is:

  1. That crudely, many organisations would consider product management's domain to be at the right hand side of the cycle and product marketing to manage the left hand side. This approach is too simplistic and can impair the chances of product success.
  2. The cycle describes what has to be achieved not who should do it. It may be one role or two or many. The reality is, of course, that it involves many parts of an organisation from development to operations and onto marketing, sales and many other internal and external stakeholders.
  3. Experience suggests that a significant overlap across functions is likely and that considering the cycle as a whole and working collaboratively makes a real difference. Note that for software products delivering through an Agile methodology, the cycle will still apply. This could operate as mini cycles bringing improvements to market but also within an overall strategic cycle taking the entire product business and broad market influences into consideration.
  4. The overall success of a product will benefit from shared knowledge, methodologies and skills taken from both disciplines and where certain artefacts can be shared and used throughout the entire cycle. (for example a collaborative approach to positioning and values propositions).

The context of collaborative working is discussed further in my white paper Product Management & Product Marketing – A Symbiotic Relationship