Product management is the practice of planning, developing, marketing and continuous improvement of a company’s product or products.
The idea of product management first appeared in the early 30s with a memo written by the president of Procter & Gamble, Neil H. McElroy, where he introduced the idea of a product manager - a “brand man” who is completely responsible for a brand and instrumental to its growth.
Decades later, in the 1980s, modern product management started to take shape with the explosive growth of the software market. Since then, product management has been closely connected and typically found in companies creating software.
The main objective of product management is the development of a new product. Its ultimate goal is making sure you’re building the right product and building the product right.
Most notably, product management is linking the development team on the one side and marketing, sales and customer success teams on the other side, while ensuring the process is aligned with the business vision.
In other words, product management is supposed to translate business objectives into engineering requirements and vice versa, explain the product functionalities and limitations to the commercial teams who are responsible for marketing, sales, and customer communication.
Since product management is such a large concept, organizations usually split responsibilities across departments so that each one can focus on their areas. That’s why we can differentiate between inbound and outbound product management.
Inbound product management involves market research, industry trends and competitive analysis as well as the overall strategy and product roadmap.
Outbound product management, on the other hand, focuses on product marketing - branding, messaging, positioning, product launches, PR, advertising, etc.
In charge of product management, there can be one person or a whole team, as the concept includes many different roles such as chief product officer, director of product management, product manager, product owner and product marketing manager, to name just a few.
The number of people involved will largely depend on the size of the company. In some cases (for example in growing startups) one person would take on all these different roles - acting as a CEO, product manager and product marketing manager.