As a profession, product management is not a new field. Its beginnings can be traced to Procter & Gamble in 1931 when Dr. Paul “Doc” Smelser created what became P&G’s first brand/product group. Over the decades, product management responsibilities have evolved and become more formalized. Now, product managers are found at most medium to large companies and startups are more frequently making a product manager an early hire. It is a profession that attracts many innovators, with LinkedIn showing around 150,000 people just in the US who are currently “Product Manager” and about 11,000 job announcements.
Yet, the profession has lacked a clear description of product management as a discipline. This changed when the Association of International Product Marketers and Managers (AIPMM) sponsored the creation of the “ProdBOK – The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge.” Greg Geracie, an experienced product manager, teacher, and author of the best selling book “Take Charge Product Management,” served as editor and chief of the project.
I interviewed Greg to learn more about the ProdBOK and why many organizations have product management capabilities that miss opportunities to optimize value creation. See link for podcast interview below.
The ProdBOK was co-edited by MIT professor Steven D. Eppinger and is an integration of information contributed by 60 industry and thought leaders.
It provides a foundation for the product management profession, standardizing terminology, processes, and tools. It takes a broad spectrum perspective on product management, covering activities from idea incubation, through development and launch, and finally ending with product retirement.
The ProdBOK is organized in three primary sections:
- History of product management, spanning the last 80+ years. The section also includes terms the practitioner should know as well as fundamental concepts regarding the nature of products, product management, and relationships with other business disciplines.
- Product management processes organized as phases from the conception of product ideas through product launch to product retirement.
- Key product management tools for each phase of product management work, with an emphasis on planning tools.
Product management leads the value creation capability of an organization. Product managers are responsible for identifying and creating products and then nurturing and maintaining the value of the products they control. However, most product management professionals tend to have strengths in specific areas and not across the entire spectrum of project management activities.
The ProdBOK is the essential reference that provides knowledge across the spectrum of product management.
Listen to the interview with Greg Geracie on The Everyday Innovator Podcast.
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Chad McAllister, PhD is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow him on Twitter.