Product Management: State of the Function

Author: Anthea Stratigos; Ned May

Date: July 31, 2019


Product management is a critical function in today’s modern information solutions businesses: It is the primary vehicle through which strategy is executed and revenue generated. This function is so important that we are routinely asked questions about how it operates and how to ensure that organizations are doing their best in the product management arena. To address these questions, we designed this analysis, the most comprehensive look at the function to date. It builds off the Outsell Growth Framework as the second in a series looking at critical functions essential to executing growth. This is an essential read for leaders wanting to ensure that their C-suite and product execution functions are operating efficiently, in harmony with market need, and in a manner that optimizes success.



We designed this study around an in-depth interview guide designed to look at critical aspects of product management. The instrument was divided into five parts covering these areas:

  • Organizational Structure and Remit
  • Functional Goals and Objectives
  • Pricing
  • Workflows and Tools
  • Talent

We identified companies based on growth because growth rates are a good indicator of success in the function. The growth rate of respondents between 2017 and 2018 was 13% on average, with the mid-point being 5%. Both figures are higher than industry norms.

Each of our analysts then completed interviews with individuals who were deeply familiar with the product management function in their organizations. Typical respondents were the head of product, chief product officer (CPO), VP of product, publisher, or in some cases, CEO. In total, we completed 80 interviews across seven key sectors. All interviews were off the record and confidential. Respondents’ companies ranged evenly in size from less than $10 million in revenue to over $1 billion. Most respondents were in mature businesses, 10 years or older.

We aggregated the interviews, then analyzed the data and combined it with our daily dialog with the industry about product management and how it operates. Finally, we updated our lens based on prior work written about the function most recently in the Outsell Growth Framework.


Outsell Inc. Product Management: State of the Function



Table of Contents

Why This Topic


Organizational Structure and Remit

Functional Goals and Objectives


Workflow and Tools



Essential Actions

About the Authors

About Outsell


List of Figures

Figure 1: Who Sets Pricing


List of Tables

Table 1: Key Roles Product Management Functions Perform

Table 2: Product Management Success Criteria

Table 3: Key Product Management Metrics

Table 4: Targets for Metrics Measured

Table 5: Percentage of Respondents Hitting Targets


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