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Software product management : finding the right balance for YourProduct Inc.
Wagenblatt T., Springer International Publishing, New York, NY, 2019. 475 pp.  Type: Book (978-3-030198-70-1)
Date Reviewed: Apr 29 2021

Software product management is at the core of the software product development life cycle. It takes into consideration all of the factors needed to bring a product to market. Furthermore, software product managers must engage with customers and other stakeholders to ensure the product being developed will meet their needs in a cost-effective and efficient way. A software product manager must possess both the technical knowledge of the problem domain and the soft skills needed to communicate the product vision effectively. In addition, the product management team must be able to assess and monitor all aspects of the development life cycle to successfully guide the product to market.

Being able to assess and monitor the factors of product development is the main topic of Software product management. The author, Timo Wagenblatt, first defines what software product management is and why it is important to the success of an organization that provides software solutions. He identifies the dimensions that are critical to a product’s success: product viability, product development, product marketing, software demonstrations and training, understanding “the market” and customer needs, and organizational maturity.

The book is organized like the layers of an onion. Part 1, the outer layer, provides a high-level view of what software product management is and what skills a software product manager should seek to develop, It also lays the groundwork for his Product Yield Potential Radar (PYPR) framework that helps an organization assess and manage the state of each dimension with respect to a given software product. The next layer, Part 2, delves into the dimensions and how to apply the PYPR framework to each dimension. Finally, Part 3 provides case studies to showcase how the framework has been applied in the past 20 years.

To introduce software product management practices, Part 1 provides a high-level description of each dimension and describes in more detail the purpose of PYPR and how it can be introduced into a company’s workflow. It should be noted: PYPR is a process that utilizes radar charts for providing a visual context of the state of a product’s dimensions. In order to generate these radar charts, the product management team meets with the stakeholders of each dimension to assess the maturity of the processes and practices the associated team is using to achieve the goals within a given dimension. By mapping a rating per dimension onto a radar chart, the product manager can see at a glance which dimensions need improvement and which ones are operating well.

To assist the reader in determining the state of an organization’s processes that drive the key dimensions, Part 2 consists of a series of chapters, each of which is devoted to a dimension. The goal here is to identify practices and processes associated with the given dimension and what factors to assess for the PYPR charts. The references supplied in these chapters can be used to learn more about the processes and practices discussed here, and the entire section can be used as reference material for getting up to speed on what these dimensions are.

Finally, Part 3 provides several case studies to highlight how PYPR has been applied in various business use cases. This section ties together the overarching theme of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of an organization’s state of product development, and shows how it can be used to further improve the organization’s performance.

In conclusion, this book is recommended for readers who are looking for a way to assess their own product management practices or who are interested in learning about how software product management can be introduced to an organization. It is practical in the sense that it is concerned with not just describing what software product management is, but how it can be adopted and improved in any software organization.

Reviewer:  Julia Yousefi Review #: CR147254 (2108-0206)
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Project And People Management (K.6.1 )
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