What is Product Management?

Legal Definition
Product management is an organizational lifecycle function within a company dealing with the planning, forecasting, and production, or marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle. Similarly, product lifecycle management (PLM) integrates people, data, processes and business systems.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Product management is an organizational lifecycle function within a company dealing with the planning, forecasting, and production, or marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle. Similarly, product lifecycle management (PLM) integrates people, data, processes and business systems. It provides product information for companies and their extended supply chain enterprise.

The role may consist of product development and product marketing, which are different (yet complementary) efforts, with the objective of maximizing sales revenues, market share, and profit margins. Product management also involves elimination decisions. Product elimination begins with the identification of elimination candidates, proceeds with the consideration of remedial actions, continues with a projection of the impact on the business as a whole if a candidate product is eventually eliminated, and concludes with the implementation stage, where management determines the elimination strategy for an item. The product manager is often responsible for analyzing market conditions and defining features or functions of a product and for overseeing the production of the product. The role of product management spans many activities from strategic to tactical and varies based on the organizational structure of the company. To maximize the impact and benefits to an organization, Product management must be an independent function separate on its own.

While involved with the entire product lifecycle, the product management's main focus is on driving new product development. According to the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), superior and differentiated new products—ones that deliver unique benefits and superior value to the customer—are the number one driver of success and product profitability.

Depending on the company size and history, product management has a variety of functions and roles. Sometimes there is a product manager, and sometimes the role of product manager is shared by other roles. Frequently there is Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibility as a key metric for evaluating product manager performance. In some companies, the product management function is the hub of many other activities around the product. In others, it is one of many things that need to happen to bring a product to market and actively monitor and manage it in-market. In very large companies, the product manager may have effective control over shipment decisions to customers, when system specifications are not being met.

Product management often serves an inter-disciplinary role, bridging gaps within the company between teams of different expertise, most notably between engineering-oriented teams and commercially oriented teams. For example, product managers often translate business objectives set for a product by Marketing or Sales into engineering requirements (sometimes called a Technical Specification). Conversely, they may work to explain the capabilities and limitations of the finished product back to Marketing and Sales (sometimes called a Commercial Specification). Product managers may also have one or more direct reports who manage operational tasks and/or a change manager who can oversee new initiatives. Manufacturing is separate from the research function, the product manager has the responsibility to bridge the gaps if any exist.

In most technology companies, most product managers possess knowledge in the following areas: computer science, business, and user experience.
-- Wikipedia