Saturday, June 25, 2011

Product Managers Job Role @ Symbyo

In this blog article we will highlight the role Product Managers play in Symbyo Technologies.

Product Managers at Symbyo acts as a managed conduit between the business world and a project team. In the beginning of a project life cycle, they drive gathering requirements, expectations, and constraints and distill them into a solution definition. As a project progresses, Product Managers works with the team to clarify what has been gathered and works with stakeholders to refine expectations. As a solution starts to take form, they reverse the conduit flow to start to prepare stakeholders for the coming solution.

Quality Goals
The quality goals for Product Managers are the following:
  • Satisfy stakeholders
  • Define solution within project constraints


Product Managers ensures that all stakeholder expectations are understood, managed, and met throughout a project. In addition, Product Managers ensures that a project sponsor is satisfied with the progress and outcome of a project. To be effective, Product Managers needs to understand, communicate, and ensure success from a stakeholder perspective. To do this, they need to gain knowledge about customers' business, success factors, and key performance measures. They own and drive the definition of requirements and feature sets as well as help the team understand user profiles and how users will use a solution. As you can tell, it is a very communications-oriented group.

As discussed previously about partnering with a customer, Product Managers leads this effort. They collaborate with customers to drive a solution vision and adjust both the vision and expectations as a project continues. It cannot be stressed enough how critical it is to manage customer expectations. Stuff happens, no plan is able to cover all project impacts, and as such, sharing that information in a no-fault environment is very important and healthy.

The importance of effectively managing expectations can be illustrated with an example involving the anticipated delivery of five solution features from a team to a customer by a certain date. If a team delivers only three features when a customer expects delivery of all five, a project will be deemed a failure both by the customer and by the team.

If, however, Product Management maintains constant two-way communication with the customer during a feature development and production period, changes are made with regard to customer expectations that ensure success. Product Management might include customers in the trade-off decision-making process and inform them of changing risks and other challenges. Unlike the previous scenario, customers can assess the situation and agree with the team that delivery of all five features within the specified period is unrealistic and that delivery of only three is acceptable. In this scenario, the delivery of three features now matches the customer's adjusted expectations, and both parties will consider the project a success.

Functional Areas

The Product Managers are responsible for several functional areas, including Marketing/Corporate Communications, Business Analyst, and Product Planning.

Marketing/Corporate Communications

This functional area is the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product, solution, or service. Nearly every solution needs to be introduced and promoted, even if it is a solution being rolled out internally to employees. When solution promotion is internal-facing, it is refered to as Corporate Communications.
Whether it is called a marketing plan or a corporate communications plan, this plan needs to outline how to excite the target audience. After all, not everyone will welcome change; even if it is a new and improved solution. Typical promotional efforts on a project involve launch promotions, sustained promotions, and public relations. Promotional efforts run the gamut from sending out fliers and e-mail to full advertising campaigns.
Key Responsibilities
This functional area and the others to follow have key responsibilities. Key responsibilities for this functional area include the following:
  • Marketing and public relations messages to excite and positively affect the target customer and users
  • Understanding the competitive landscape
  • Distribution channels so target customers easily acquire a solution
  • For packaged solutions, enabling customers to have a positive experience buying and using a solution
Key Activities
Each functional area has a set of key activities to help uphold its responsibilities. Some activities are done throughout a project; some are done each iteration. Key activities for this functional area include the following:

  • Develop a plan to promote a solution
  • Be able to highly differentiate a solution so it stands out from the competition
  • Set up and prepare distribution channels

Business Analyst

A Business Analyst functional area works in conjunction with a sponsor(s) to gather, manage, and refine throughout the life cycle all the market information, all functional and operational requirements, all stakeholder expectations, and anything else that could affect the definition and delivery of a solution.

To start, a Business Analyst team forms an initial vision and conceptual understanding of a solution, given insight of business needs and opportunities as well as the competitive landscape. As a solution vision, solution road map, and constraints are worked into high-level requirements, business analysts work with product planners (discussed next) to segment a solution into projects to deliver capability incrementally.
Key Responsibilities
  • Solution landscape
  • Stakeholder expectations
  • Quantifying a solution's return on investment (ROI)
  • Sponsor relationship
Key Activities
  • Perform objective cost/benefit analyses to help communicate to the team a defined stack ranking of requirements and feature priority
  • Assist sponsor's development of a business case
  • Define and maintain business justification for a projectDefine and measure business value realization and metrics
  • Manage customer expectations and communications
  • Determine business metrics and success criteriaProvide requirements and feature trade-off decisions

Product Planning

As opposed to a Business Analyst functional area that is more externally focused, a Product Planning functional area works with the team on a tactical level, as depicted in the following figure. Product planners take a vision and conceptual solution and drive a delivery strategy.

As discussed, Symbyo software development methodology recommends that solutions be incrementally delivered through versioned releases. A release is a bundling of solution features and capabilities so that it can be shared either internally among the team or externally with stakeholders. A Product Planning functional area coordinates and manages versioned solution releases. A release can encompass one or more teams' efforts. For instance, a release might be made up of new features from some teams and updates from others with previously released features. This functional area coordinates with Product Management from each of the subteams to present an integrated solution version for release.
Product planning entails understanding the requirements of a solution completely, including what the needs of the business are, how customers will use it, what support issues will be, and what alternatives are available. It also entails working with the team to agree upon prioritization of requirements, capabilities, and feature sets; issues; risks; and so forth.
Key Responsibilities
  • Shared project and solution vision
  • Working with the respective teams to deliver a solution version consistent with a solution road map
  • Being the authority on requirements and expectations associated with each release
  • Solution definition and solution definition process
Key Activities
  • Stack-rank requirements and features for a solution and for each release
  • Balance and trade off requirements with project(s) constraints
  • Perform market research, market demand, competitive intelligence/analysis
  • Gather, analyze, and prioritize customer and business requirements
  • Perform release-level requirements and feature trade-off decisions
  • Identify a multiversion release plan

Symbyo Is continuously looking for talented product managers to join our team, if you feel you have the qualification, experience and passion to excel in a product manager role in Symbyo Technologies, Then apply online through our careers section.

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