How much in common has: a) creating a new venture as a new startup, b) developing and launching a new product within an established company or c) launching a product or services in a new market segment or geography?
Any one of these choices has a lot in common, it is the time when the size of the teams are not big enough, there is not enough resources to accomplish all the ideas that are in mind and a lot of things need to be learn.
Now, from the dilemma technical vs. business skills point of view, the issue is not easy to solve and I like to analyze first the required skills in both sides of the table, after read four articles about the profile, skills and elements of the people that brings these ideas into reality, we can drive some conclusions, let me share in a table the elements that I found in them.
From the information in the table we can identify that the person that build a new product need to combine knowledge and skills from the two sides, moving around them according to the current activity in progress.
Competition and knowledge
As you can see, you as a program manager in charge of taking the product into the market, you have to negotiate, sell ideas and take decisions that involve technical issues as well as business issues. New products that get into the market requires to have competitive advantages, that are possible only if you know very well the market space where you are working, then the domain in the industry and the capabilities available in house must be very well understood in order to produce the best solution for the market in feasible way to have an appealing product to meet the needs of the customer in and affordable price.
Technology to build a great product
Good products use the latest in technology and the methods to create the product then the knowledge in this area from design, production, operation and support requires a lot of expertise to have the best combination of elements and methods to produce the desired product. For instance to build a new app for planning travels requires to know what are the main competitors doing in the market as well to fine tuning the sources of information available and the technology to produce a easy to use app, that is able to operate online and offline to allow the tourist use the app while he is planning the trip as well when he is in the middle of nowhere traveling.
Market and user feedback
Learning the needs of the users and find out how our solution is perceived is challenge that can be solved better if we have enough data from to analyze and explore which are the most liked features at the time that identify what is not used on the field. This can happen because the feature is not useful or because the implementation is not the right one for the profile of people that are using our app.
Any business requires a lot of communication in different directions. Inside the company to move the project in one direction, helping each other to understand the needs from the customer, make actions to build the product and develop ideas to create the product, build it ready for production and/or operate and then to have the resources to fulfill the product and support it in the field. The skills of the project manager are to hold this communication among all the people involved. It is part of his job that is split during the evolution of the new venture, by delegating responsibilities to other stakeholders. In this moment, when the project is the first one of a startup that is becoming to be a real operating company, is the time that the role of Program Manager and the CEO is split from one person to two persons. At this time each role take its own shape and the role of the product manager become more the person that orchestrate the activities to launch the product into the market while the CEO takes responsibility of oversee the full company.
The success of creating a product increase when the product manager have a 360 degrees of broad knowledge in each element and is capable to dig enough to move the participants in one direction. Sometimes helping how to develop the technology, other times encouraging the development of the market approach and all the times keeping a level of motivation that the people fell doing great while a lot of problems are happening. Making people find solutions to keep high level of moral is a critical responsibility for the leader and this is the one of the skills that is included in the business side of the equation.