The Project Manager / Product Manager Relationship (Part Two)
From my experience, the product development life cycle can be broken down into three major components – what I like to call the three C’s of product development (S.T.O.P. The Project Management Survival Plan © by Steven Starke) – Conceive, Construct, and Commercialize. The following image gives a high-level overview of what this life cycle looks like.
…overlaying these two lifecycles linearly doesn’t necessarily give us the rigor and clarity we need from a project execution standpoint. My opinion is that project managers need to start adjusting their perspective around the entire product life cycle and what it truly takes to deliver a product to market. When you do this, the overlay of life cycles looks a bit different:
When you change your perspective and realize each component of the product development life cycle needs to be treated with all the typical phases of a project. Some can argue that each phase of the product development life cycle (Conceive, Construct, Commercialize) should be treated like individual projects by themselves and managed at more of a program management level. This approach to managing a product development project achieves the following goals as it relates back to the product manager / project manager relationship:
- Provides clarity that a single product will have one or more projects that supports the broader product goals of the organization
- Enables project managers to move upstream into the Conceive phase where they are desperately underutilized
- Prevents us from thinking that code complete equals project complete and that resources will be required during commercialize to truly realize the goals of the project.
Let’s face it, product managers can’t do it all by themselves and they need our project management skills during the entire product development life cycle. This is true now more than ever as organizations attempt to do more with less in order to achieve organizational goals and satisfy customer expectations.