Bearing the Product's Lifecycle and Sustaining the Organization's Lifeblood

Bearing the Product's Lifecycle and Sustaining the Organization's Lifeblood

Disha Chhabra, Product Manager, Google Maps, 0

Product Management (PM) has always been the bread and butter of any product company. The role, which involves supervision and management of the entire lifecycle of a product, encompasses everything from ideation to the product’s market launch. It's no coincidence that product management is becoming the new training ground for future tech CEOs. Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Google's Sundar Pichai, Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer, and YouTube's Susan Wojcicki worked as product managers before becoming CEOs of global digital giants. The product manager position requires the right mix of hard and soft abilities to help you become an industry leader. Possessing over 16 years of experience in product development and management, Disha Chhabra, Product Manager, Google Maps, unfolds the metamorphosis of product management with a blend of current scenarios influencing the role.

In conversation with Disha Chhabra, Product Manager, Google Maps

How do you perceive the role of product managers and freelancers among tech companies today?
More companies are becoming flexible, allowing people to freelance work at their convenience while considering certain projects call for this role. However, product management is a long-term role that requires time transitioning into the domain, leave alone forming relationships with people. It’s a role seldom led by example but led by respect and empathy developed over time. Therefore, it’s crucial to have the whole context of the product’s roadmap and a vision spanning for at least five years. It's clear why it’s helpful to have a dedicated PM rather than freelancers. Despite remote working, roles such as payrolls will still require those who can remain in the position, unlike the term served by freelancers.

Could you share insights about the skills currently playing a pivotal role in the product management segment?
A lot of people from non-tech backgrounds are venturing into the product management segment. We must position our focus towards building a technical product, and therefore, the soft skills become more critical.Additionally, empathy towards co-workers becomes important considering the existence of hybrid working. More importantly, as a Product Manager, I think leading without authority is a skill that will remain key to leading a team.

What are your thoughts on products driving customer acquisition and retention in today's dynamic market scenario?
Product is the primary driver. Marketing can only get a few people to try the product.
But fundamentally, if the product is not solving the pain points of customers, the market cannot sustain loyalty.Hence, it’s the product’s responsibility to provide that experience the customer is seeking and sustain loyalty. For instance, if four out of five grocery items are delivered, raising a complaint to get a resolution is not easy and eventually causes the customer to not rely on the app. Although marketing money may get customers initially interested in the product, it is not valid for its retention. This does not imply technical products alone, but the entire ecosystem, as the customer experiences play a crucial role. I’d say customer service is part of a product, including the delivery experience. These aspects integrated together are what drive customer retention.

I think leading without authority is a skill that will remain key to leading a team

Tell is about the skills most sought after in product management by companies?
Being nimble and adapting fast will become crucial in the post-COVID world. During the initial pandemic stages, companies asked PMs to help with planning business continuity and ensuring that the most minimal viable plan was put into practice. Thus, the ability to quickly adapt to changing situations has risen to importance, similar to the response shown in reacting to changing competition. However, there are aspects far beyond the control of competitors currently that must be taken care of. Likewise, it signifies that not losing sight of the bigger picture to deliver the final meaning of the product to the customers is important. Therefore, the present actions contributed to the product determine the long-term outlook. This was seen in the return of COVID-19 when companies sought PMs’ help in tying the two terms together.

What are the major factors that go into developing a product’s roadmap?
It starts with what you want your product to be known to the customer. It could represent a company with reasonable deals, fastest delivery, trustworthiness, or maximum options. Based on these and the comprehension of the customers' needs, the product’s features and roadmap can be designed. Next, deciding on a target audience is an important starting point for any product. As for the technical feasibility, you need to discuss with your technical counterpart to understand the feasibility of short-term, medium, and the usual trade-offs of engineering investment for each feature.

What are your anticipations on future product managers' roles and responsibilities?
Roles and responsibilities largely remain the same but need to sync with the dynamic world. They will need to be more agile, as the competition is also evolving. External factors must be taken into consideration to learn the impacts a particular model could make on the product. Currently, with the pandemic, many external dimensions can impact your product, and the same roles and responsibilities need to be fulfilled in the same environment.