Research & Development is an important department in any organization. In this article, we’ll discuss how Product Managers fit into this department and how they don’t. So, is Product Management part of R&D?
Product Management is not a part of R&D. Product Managers need to focus on market needs and plan the product features to meet those needs. However, Product Managers should be well connected with the R&D team so that they can give feedback on whether or not the product will meet customers’ needs.
Le’s talk about this in detail now.
Why Is Product Management Not A Part Of R&D?
If the PM is fully involved with R&D, he/she might become a technical expert of the product and know the development, operations, and logistics of it. However, it’s more important for the Product Manager to pay more attention to the market and other external matters.
The PM and R&D are obviously going to communicate. The PM should influence the R&D department but shouldn’t be working with them to complete their objectives.
The PM is one of the few connections between the company and the customer, besides the product itself. It’s for this reason that the PM should value any time they get to learn more about their customers and potential customers, like their wants, needs, and problems in life or with the product. The objective is to solve these problems with a product.
Besides connecting with customers, the Product Manager also needs to interact with many other entities outside of the organization, such as investors, partners, competitors, and others.
The R&D team and PM should always be on the same page and be available to communicate with one another at any time.
Related Further Reading:
- Are Product Managers Paid More Than Engineers? (Real Figures)
- Are Product Managers Respected? (How To Gain Respect As A PM?)
- Do Product Managers Have Direct Reports? (Yes And No)
Should A Product Manager Work Within R&D?
Ideally, the PM should not get too involved with R&D or any other departments, for that matter.
The company should have enough people in R&D to take care of the technicalities of the product, the logistics, and other aspects of the project without the PM needing to contribute much to it.
It’s best for the PM to do the things that nobody else in the company does.
It’s for all these reasons and more that we believe the Product Manager should not be directly associated or involved with R&D. The R&D team should be able to function perfectly without the Product Manager being involved.
The PM has a big impact on what the R&D team does. But he/she needs to go out and be the connection between the company and everything outside of the company. If PMs are too involved in R&D, they won’t be able to get out and do the things that R&D doesn’t do, like getting to know the users of the product in their environment or consult with potential investors.
If the PM gets too involved inside the company, he/she might lose the perspective of customers and investors. Spending a lot of time with people outside of the company gives the PM a better understanding of what the customer needs without any mental block that comes with knowing the limitations within the company.
The PM must also spend time with potential investors to identify what type of products they’d invest in.
What Does R&D Do?
R&D works on developing new products and services to satisfy the customer. They research new technologies or ways of doing things. Basically, they develop products that didn’t exist before.
R&D also improves or innovates existing products to make them better. R&D needs to make sure that they stay up to date with all the latest trends and technologies.
One of the key aspects of R&D is testing or experimenting with new ideas to see if they’re viable or not.
Besides the testing of products and services, you can see how similar R&D and Product Management are, but there is a difference. We’ll explain this in a bit more detail below.
Related Further Reading:
- Do Product Managers Travel? (Why, When, And Benefits Of Travel)
- Are Product Managers Engineers? (Product Managers Vs. Engineers)
What Does A Product Manager Do?
The Product Manager shouldn’t get too involved with the creation and testing of new products. He/she should know what’s going on in the R&D department but shouldn’t take part in their work actively.
The PM needs to let the R&D team know what the market wants and needs. It’s their job to figure things out from there.
Of course, the PMs provide helpful inputs at times, but they should spend more time communicating with people outside of the company.
The PM should mostly convey the sentiments of the customer to the R&D department.
The Product Manager is a vital connection between the company and the outside world. So he/she should spend most of the time exploring the market in order to let the R&D team know what’s required but not how to do it. They need to create and experiment from there.
Should Product Management Be A Part Of Any Other Department?
We believe that Product Management shouldn’t be bound to any particular department. The PM needs to go out and interact with people that the other departments don’t interact with.
The Product Manager should be an ambassador for the customer, someone who fights for what the customer wants and doesn’t focus on the limitations of the company.
It can be healthy for the rest of the company to look at the Product Manager as their most important customer. If they please the PM, they will please the customer as well.
A PM who is too close with R&D might get lost in all the technicalities and lose focus on the customer’s perspective.
Related Further Reading:
- Do Product Managers Code? (Yes And No, Here’s Why…)
- Are Product Managers Paid Well? (Actual Salaries They Get)
Things To Remember
Product Management and R&D have many similarities, but they shouldn’t be combined into one.
The Product Manager should not spend too much time with the R&D department because he/she will neglect other duties, like direct customer research, meetings with investors, and more.
There should be enough people in the R&D team to carry out their objectives without the Product Manager’s help. Sure, they take advice and instructions from the PM, but the PM shouldn’t be in the R&D department spoon-feeding the workers.
R&D shouldn’t be scared of communicating with the PM; they need the information to do their jobs properly. However, they can’t expect the Product Manager to provide complete solutions for the products they need to produce.
The R&D team needs to do the research and development to work out a way to satisfy the customer according to their PM’s information.