The key to successful product management

STUDY What do successful companies do differently in terms of their product management and to what extent can others learn from them? These two questions were the focus of the study "Swiss Product Management 2013/2014 - Learning from the Best". A ZHAW study shows what successful product management looks like. BY LUCIA COMOLLI AND DR. TERESA MANDL*In the context of the study, [...]

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A study by the ZHAW shows what successful product management looks like. FROM LUCIA COMOLLI AND DR. TERESA MANDL*As part of the study, the Institute for Marketing Management of the ZHAW 389 small and medium-sized enterprises in Switzerland on the subject of product management.Customer orientation pays offIn order to identify successful product management, the Swiss companies that took part in the study were differentiated on the basis of the success indicators market share, sales and profit development over the past three years. This resulted in the classification of gold, silver and bronze performers, which allows conclusions to be drawn about the factors that influence the success of their product management.But what exactly do the gold performers do differently from the silver or bronze performers? In short, they know their customers' needs better, respond to them with innovative strategies, and follow clear processes. Their product management is also typically characterized by a high level of interaction with the customer and the institutionalization of the innovation process.This leads to the conclusion for all companies: focusing on the needs of the customer is match-decisive. Regardless of whether it is a matter of designing new products or setting prices. Customer orientation must be understood across all functions and must also be lived effectively.Gold performers recognize the relevance of processesSuccessful companies have professionalized their product management in recent years. Gold performers in particular recognize the importance of clear processes and responsibilities, e.g. for managing innovation.The majority of the companies surveyed identify innovation as an important differentiating factor compared with the competition. However, only a minority of Swiss SMEs have institutionalized innovation processes. This is despite the fact that structured processes have been proven to lead to greater success. This also applies to product management in general: Those companies that include product management throughout the entire product lifecycle - and thus bear not only product but also process responsibility - are significantly more successful in practice. However, many companies still have some catching up to do. The first step is to create the necessary conditions at the corporate level: to extend the areas of competence of the product manager beyond a pure staff function without process responsibility and to view product management as an independent organizational unit with clear product responsibility.Continuous performance measurement has a positive impactHow should companies orient themselves to the needs of their customers if it is not known to what extent these needs are already being met? The measurement of customer-oriented performance indicators should be a matter of course for product management. The current study shows that the product managers of more successful companies more frequently measure both economic key figures (such as contribution margin, sales shares of new products and market shares) and pre-economic key figures (such as customer satisfaction and time-to-market).Good prospects for product managementA trend that was already evident in the previous study is confirmed once again: Product management is gaining in importance in Swiss companies. Product management was already assigned a high priority in the 2011 study. This is confirmed and expanded in this year's study: Product Management is rated by 72% of Swiss companies as rather important or very important in the future.All the more important that Swiss companies promote its responsibility for products and services offered. On the one hand, this means providing product management with the right tools, e.g., in terms of process orientation and performance measurement. On the other hand, it is important never to lose sight of the common point of orientation: customer satisfaction. via internet can be ordered free of charge.

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