Product Line Management Job Description
The product line management job is to oversee products. More importantly, it’s to find, expand, and exploit product opportunities. And it’s to do this in a manner that increases gains and rewards to the company. The job emphasizes both near-term and long-term Profit and Loss responsibility for a product line.
The job purposely focuses work, decisions, and thought processes on the system’s forces and the interaction of system parts.
Product Line Management Title
The Product Line Management job evolved over the last few decades. Yet, many managers with whole product line responsibilities still carry the Product Manager title (that’s “product” in the singular sense.) This single-product nomenclature is an artifact of history, not a description of the job.
But it’s common to find companies that embrace the older single-product mindset and at the same time expect managers to oversee multiple products. These companies give managers responsibility for several products but not the authority to make product line moves and pivots. As a result, these product managers will stress creating, developing, and managing one product at a time, often without a coherent product line strategy. Or, they make up a strategy as they go along.
Single Versus Multi-Product Thinking
A significant disconnect between single-product and multiple product line management happens when a company’s leadership has yet to embrace a systems approach to product lines. And as a result, the company’s processes, methods, and tools can work against the systems approach needed to carry out good product line management. Setting up a product line management job without a supporting organization is fraught with conflict.
Product Line Systems View
Product line managers must have a systems view of their line. Their job is to orchestrate opportunities across the full set of products. And the job is to improve the line’s cash flow, increase total customer satisfaction, and beat the competition.
More on Product Line Management
Here are some resources to help you 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