IT Best PracticesProject Portfolio Management

Product Management Without Portfolio Management Has Limited Value

Companies are looking at portfolios with a microscope, and what they're looking for in particular is value from it/business alignment, cost to run in software development, and IT resource allocation. Because of this, PPM vendors have seen a strong growth in demand for their services and insights. Outside of these vendors are the product managers themselves of course, who are likewise seeing the changes brought on by an emphasis of looking towards the larger, value driven picture. Whereas previously product managers needed to only concern themselves with what their own products were doing, product management now must also concern itself with how their product fits into the larger context of the business:

  What's more clear is the responsibility of product management. For years, people in product management circles have been arguing over which noun best describes the job. Champion? Mini-CEO? Owner? Enabler? Quasi-MBA? They're all wrong, to the extent that they imply that the duty of the product manager is solely to the product. The PM needs to make business sense of development investments, not add further seats to the General Assembly. That portfolio thinking has to come from somewhere. Among some of the best PM organizations I know, it's managed within the PM organization itself. The head of the PM team lays down the rules for how to justify, in business terms, any product idea. No clear market? Bzzzt, try again. Doesn't contribute to the overall value proposition? Bzzzt, I'm sorry. Being the champion, mini-CEO, lifelong companion, or BFF of a product is not always a good thing. 

Behind it all, product management must now consider, in broader terms, how each product fits into the “larger portfolio”: how will it generate revenue, how can the company's sales team sell it, and why is it more valuable to go after than any other idea?

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