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Hiring a Freelance Product Manager

Why and when you need a freelance Product Manager?

Traditionally, a product manager is an expert on the market and the customer, responsible for driving the strategy and the overall success. As the title outlines, the role holder defines the product vision and strategy, positioning, pricing.

Together with developing business cases, interacting with stakeholders, providing business justifications, owning the product lifecycle and the product roadmap, an expert in product management is also responsible for the product definition, features, schedule, cost and revenue plan.

With the dawn of digital, fast-paced always-online products and the intrinsic focus on customer needs and the overall experience, the product management role has evolved into a product value maximizer. While still maintaining the original responsibilities, to better compete in the market, today's product management requires adopting lean and agile principles, using tools and methods such as design thinking, continuous discovery and improvement.

As a Product Manager, your job isn't to get the requirements right ... your job is to change the world. --- Jeff Patton

Today's role holders work closer than ever with business stakeholders, customers, and engineering, putting an even bigger emphasis on the role holder's collaboration, communication, and leadership skills.

Never in the past has the role of a product manager been so multi-disciplined, so essential for the successful outcome of the business vision realization; demanding, yet so inspirational and fascinating.

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case study
Product management case study for a Telecom operator

Challenge, Context, Problems to be solved

A quad-play telecom operator faced a backlash from new and prospective broadband customers for too long installation timelines, late or missed appointments, quality of work resulting in low customer satisfaction. The result was slower than expected adoption of the service and high vulnerability to competitive offerings. The objective was to quickly improve the installation capacity and turn around the satisfaction levels.

Main Challenges:

  • A cumbersome order-to-installation process with manual work-order distribution and fulfillment.
  • Contractor teams from multiple suppliers with inadequate quality control.
  • No visibility on process execution.

Mission, tools and methodology

  • Establish a joint task force team with owning members from product management, operations, installation, IT, process, finance and data science to work closely together in a collaborative manner towards the objective. 
  • Review the existing process and data collected.
  • Conduct interviews with relevant and involved representatives from each area of the O-2-I process delivery for their AS-IS and the desired TO-BE process experience, discuss possible issues.
  • Identify elements of the operational value stream (OVS) and establish an initial problem hypothesis.
  • Conduct Gemba walks with select high and low satisfaction installation teams and receive customers feedback.
  • Validate OVS elements and gates and adjust problem hypotheses.
  • Conduct a problem-solving workshop and come up with a list of improvement items.
  • Work iteratively and incrementally using a lean and agile approach, incl. prototyping, MVP, continuous validation, etc. towards a lean digitally-enabled installation process using mobile devices and digital app with automated work-order distribution, full process monitoring, and performance analytics. 
  • Embed the established virtual team and approach into the organization to allow for continuous improvement of the solution after the end of the project.
  • Keeping the management regularly and frequently updated throughout the whole process.

Achieved results

  • MVP within the first month, an initial batch of teams trained and using the solution in the field during the second month and subsequent incremental deployment to the rest of the workforce.
  • Full visibility around the process execution and performance of each team and supplier using the collected data.
  • For solution- enabled teams:
  • Immediate installation efficiency improvement by 30% from improved quality of work and overall installation time, resulting in total installation capacity increase.
  • 80% decrease in missed appointments after the first three months.
  • Average customer satisfaction score improvement by 40% for the originally high-performing teams and 110% improvement for the low-performing teams after the first three months.
  • Mindset shift towards customer-focused and data-driven decisions.

Must have product manager skills

  • Analytical mindset
  • Critical and strategic thinking
  • Customer centricity
  • Outcome-oriented
  • Business acumen
  • Leadership
  • High communication and presentation skills
  • Understanding of business processes and operations
  • Digital and technology savvy

Responsibilities of this role

  • Establish and maintain strategy and business model for the product
  • Maximize the value of the product
  • Manage product requirements
  • Innovation and product lifecycle management
  • Define success metrics, relevant outcomes and ensure regular reporting
  • P&L, budgeting and forecasting
  • Champion practices of modern product management
  • Lead virtual and physical teams

Challenges and hot topics of the role

Digital and Data:

The more traditional industries use systems data to monitor their network and platforms' performance globally. The digitally-enabled and customer savvy ones use all available relevant data to drive customer centricity, empower the organization for faster decisions and meet the demands and expectations through tailored experiences of innovative products and services.

The Power of Cloud:

Even the most traditional industries eventually affirm the benefits of the cloud for faster and more cost-effective delivery of products and services; however, customer privacy and data security remain one of the main challenges.

Legacy vs. new technology:

Latest technologies and platforms enable the digital product manager with a great set of new features and capabilities, configuration flexibility, re-usability, out-of-the-box services with fast go-to-market, etc. However, there is usually a substantial amount of less flexible or even legacy technology serving the existing customer base requiring attention. 

B2B vs. B2C:

B2B focus predominantly revolves around various X-aaS cloud-based services and solutions, smart ICT solutions encompassing IoT, security, sustainability, unified communication and connectivity. On the other hand, the consumer side of the businesses deal mainly with variations of personal connectivity and communication services, digital lifestyle and content consumption, and loyalty. With both portfolios aiming at different customer segments, all products and services are still calling for a great customer focus and innovative mindset.