This is Alex Emamanuele, Product Manager at Thermacell.
Developing products for people to use in their everyday lives is a little more complicated than it sounds. Surely you (like everyone else) have been doing some mundane task at home, when the early 2000’s informercial music comes on in your mental soundtrack, along with the thought “…there has to be a better way!”. Confronting that initial problem is often the easiest part of the process. What happens between inception and commercial launch, what we refer to as “NPD”, or New Product Development, is a bit like an adventure novel, the story’s arc may look the same from 30,000 feet up, but will be very different on the ground.
There are a few steps between the napkin sketch and a new product appearing on a shelf that require management across the organization. These touchpoints occur periodic updates individually, and are also best tracked within an NPD process (Agile/Scrum for Software development, Stage Gate/NPD process for hardware and overall program management). These processes ensure not only that each critical function of the go-to-market team are up to date on the status of the project and prepared for their key role in the launch, but that there are checks and balances, remaining accountable to the end user, the customer, and each player in the end-to-end process.
Product Managers are considered “Product CEOs”, responsible for cross-functional collaboration and delivery of a finished product. They work with every part of the organization, from Manufacturing, Consumer Support, and Supply Chain to Marketing, Finance, and Engineering. Successful Product Managers (I tend to define “success” as simply being in love with your job), are occasionally creative, wickedly organized, steadfast, and above all else, center the consumer/end user as the program/product’s North Star.
Here are a few of the different responsibilities of a Product Manager, and while not inclusive of every type of role out there, here are some of the things we do here at Thermacell.
- Research: Testing and learning is critical to a successful product. Research happens before, during, and after the launch of the product.
- Product Specifications: Working with Engineering and Sourcing, we define how the product should look, feel, perform, and how long it should last out in the field.
- Manufacturing: If not a product we will manufacture ourselves, we work with the Strategic Sourcing and Quality teams to identify and partner with external vendors who can manufacture for us. These partners act like an extension of our company.
- Supply: Supply chain entered the vernacular when the recent pandemic shook up the world, but this critical part of the team identifies how we obtain the materials, components, and ensure we get them when we need them to build the products for consumers.
- Sales & Marketing: These teams are vital to ensuring we tell the product story to the right people, to get our products on the shelf, and into the hands of consumers. We work with the Marketing team to develop presentations, content (photo and video assets), and ensure they have the appropriate regulatory language to inform the end user about how our product works, and determine whether they need it to improve their lives.
The Product team at Thermacell is a group of people who just want to improve the lives of our users, and push on different parts of the organization to help deliver that promise.
Categories: From The Leadership