One of the main requirements for any Product Management role is that you become a Subject Matter Expert. A Subject Matter Expert is someone that has gained sufficient knowledge and experience in a market or industry segment. They are the “go to” person in their organization for any given subject.
The need for product managers to have Subject Matter Expertise is manifold. Here are a few areas where they prove most useful:
Why Product Managers Need Subject Matter Expertise
- To work hand in hand with functional analysts in order to explain; a product; the business; the process; customer needs; or the market. The information elicited is analysed and converted into technical specifications for new product developments or product enhancements.
- Sales and Marketing departments often rely on them to help develop and deliver training on new or existing products for customers and partners.
- Sales and Marketing departments will often involve them in development of the marketing mix and promotional materials for product launches.
- Training department relies on them to help develop and deliver training on new or existing products internally.
Developing Subject Matter Expertise
Product managers need subject matter expertise on the business processes; on the customer needs; on the technology; and on the market. It is by leveraging all of this that the product managers can help lead to the development of successful products.
Developing strong Subject Matter Expertise is not easy because you have to invest yourself in a process of continuous learning and development. A considerable amount of time has to be spent on monitoring and absorbing changes in the market; the business; products; and technologies.
Being an expert in a topic requires you to be fully immersed and invested in it. This means that you should really have some inherent interest in it otherwise it will be much harder work to maintain.