What can product management teach non-tech companies? [5 key principles]

The philosophy of product management stretches far beyond the tech field. How can non-tech companies benefit from 5 key principles?

‘Fast innovation’ and ‘high-value product development’ are key terms in the tech world. So, companies that operate in this field are constantly on the lookout for methodologies which help them achieve these things. A while ago, everyone turned to scrum and agile. But an increasing number of organizations have embraced the product management philosophy, including the associated organizational structure.

The key principles of this philosophy, however, stretch far beyond the tech field: non-tech companies, too, can benefit from adopting the key principles. For in our fast-changing society, all companies should be able to swiftly adapt to changes and accurately respond to customer demands.

So, let’s have a look at five crucial product management principles that are also relevant to non-tech companies!

1. Customer-centricity

Tech companies tend to prioritize the user experience. Although it might seem obvious that understanding and meeting customers’ needs is important to every organization, experience has taught us it isn’t. Many non-tech companies don’t really know who their customers are and what they want. So, learn from your tech counterparts: gather customer feedback, conduct market research, and make sure your product or service solves a real problem or meets a real need.

2. Data-driven decision-making

In product management, data is leveraged to inform decisions. Outside of the tech realm, too many companies still make gut-based choices. If you want to be more strategic and efficient, embrace data analytics. It can help you track performance, understand customer behavior, and make well-informed decisions.

3. Prioritizing the right tasks

Product managers usually have limited resources. That means they need to prioritize certain features and tasks over others. As a non-tech company, you can apply this principle in a slightly adjusted form: focus on high-impact activities that align with your strategic objectives, so you’ll use your resources as efficiently as possible.

4. Cross-functional collaboration

Product managers work closely with engineers, designers, and marketers. Similarly, non-tech companies should foster collaboration across departments. Too often, we see sales departments work in isolation — they barely interact with the product development, production, or customer service teams, among others. If they would, they could leverage the knowledge and perspectives of different employees. This type of approach usually results in a well-rounded, market-ready product.

5. Agile methodology

We mentioned the term ‘agile’ in the introduction of this blog post. Although most no longer use it as a ‘standalone methodology,’ it’s still useful as part of a more comprehensive product management approach. And non-tech companies, too, can benefit from an iterative process. It allows for flexibility, quick pivots, and continuous feedback-based improvement. The agile methodology encourages collaboration and adaptability, both of which are crucial in today’s fast-paced market.

The next step: a product-centered organization

Do you think your business will benefit from these principles? Then you could take it up a notch and consider the next step. If you find yourself in a market that really requires you to innovate faster and better, how about adjusting your organizational structure and turning your organization into a product-centered one? You might want to welcome a chief product officer (CPO) onto your board. This expert will oversee your innovations.

In a simplified product organization, product leadership is shared by three people: the product manager (who represents the business or client), the designer, and the tech expert. This shared leadership inevitably results in functional collaboration (from the very start). There are three key success factors that help customers adopt a new product or service: 1) you solve their urgent issue by 2) providing the right solution 3) in the right format.

Time to make the right decisions

Obviously, we’re talking about quite the shift here. Currently, your company might be functionally organized around finance, marketing, logistics, and the like. Since it probably doesn’t make sense to transform all supporting departments into product-centered functions, you could opt for a mixed structure.

The main challenge is to make the right decisions. What will you include in your product management organization? If you want to innovate according to the product management approach, which principles will be most useful to you? And how will this approach benefit your business? That’s some food for thought. Perhaps a nice topic to mull over during your Christmas break?