What is Product Line Management?
Product line management’s job is to expand opportunities and increase gains from better insight and foresight. And it’s to do so for a whole product line, not just one product at a time. The job demands a coherent approach to the product line coupled to a clear understanding of how product lines work as systems.
Many Product Managers (that’s “product” in the singular sense) oversee whole product lines. They don’t focus on just one product. Because the job originated many decades ago when we lacked multi-product thinking, the single-product title stuck.
Single-Minded Product Management
It’s common to find a company embrace a single-product mindset yet expect a manager to oversee multiple products. In this situation, you’ll see managers acknowledge their responsibility for many products yet not have a full product line view. Instead, they stress creating, developing, and managing one product at a time.
The disconnect happens when a company’s as a whole doesn’t understand and support a systems approach to product line management. This approach leverages synergistic gains across a whole product line. The disconnect isn’t about one manager or one executive. It’s about the company as a whole. And as a result, the company’s processes, methods, and tools work against the systems approach.
The oversight role evolves to product line management once a company embraces the power of product lines as systems. This demands a multi-product mindset to embed into a company’s culture. You’ll find the multi-product mindset and its link with processes, methods, and behaviors matters when defining the role and responsibility of a product line manager.
Multi Product Manager
Product managers may be effective by focusing only on one product, if that’s the scope of their job. But product line managers must have a full systems view to orchestrate opportunities to boost free cash flow, increase total customer satisfaction, and beat competition. And they must employ this view over the near and long term.
Product line managers have several core responsibility when the systems approach for whole product line takes hold. These include responsibilities for :
- Creating a vision for the product line
- Forming and carrying out a strategy for the product line
- Roadmapping and Tracking the strategy game plan
- Growing revenue and delivering greater free cash flow
- Assuring that customer satisfaction increases
- Beating Competition
- Coordinating work carried out by people and teams, and motivating people to contribute
More on Product Line Management
Here are some resources to better understand Product Lines and their management.
- Responsive Roadmapping: A proactive approach to help product line management
- Product Line Strategy: Creating a Vision and setting up the game plan to drive a Product Line’s performance
- Product Line System Parts: See a more complete discussion
- Multi-Generational Product Plan (MGPP) Vs. Product Line Strategy and Roadmap
- Trapped in a Single Product Mindset
- Other Sources