The structure of an organization can either facilitate or hinder its progress towards achieving set goals. Hence, every organization that hopes to succeed must have a good structure. Organizational structure determines the flow of information between the different levels of management as well as how roles and responsibilities are delegated and coordinated. One key role which contributes to the success of an organization is that of a Chief Product Officer (CPO). Just like a Chief Sales Officer plays a significant role in the sale of the organization’s product and services, so is the Chief Product Officer a big part of the business’s product. The CPO must be a visionary, a supervisor, an outstanding leader, and a zealous publicist of the product. The position usually reports to the chief executive officer.
The responsibilities of the CPO includes coming up with the product concept, strategy, design, development, and marketing. The CPO also has an influence in the production, distribution and procurement departments.
The CPO is basically responsible for all product-related matters from its conception and development to its innovation and eventual launching. The CPO also ensures that the product would attract sales and ultimately generate profit for the business.
Objectives And Obligations of The Chief Product
1. Leadership/Supervisory Role
One of the most of the basic responsibility of the CPO is to oversee the Product Management department. The CPO supervises the activities product management officers such as the Director of UX, Director of Product Management, Director of Product Marketing, and the Head of Product Analytics. The CPO makes sure that these principal roles are carried out efficiently. This will eventually increase the productivity and efficiency of the Product Management department.
Besides playing the role of a supervisor, the CPO also acts as a mentor to these key product management officers, ensuring the continuous enhancement of their professional skills and providing assistance where necessary.
The daily execution of product-related activities is directed by the CPO. As a leader and a supervisor, the CPO spearheads the transformation of a product idea from being just a vision to become an actionable concept and project while also considering the financial involvement, marketing needs and the overall goal of the business.
2. Vision and Strategy
Another responsibility of a CPO is the formulation of a vision that would guide the activities of Product Management department and ensure the vision is shared by all employees in the department. A common vision would foster cooperation and enhance efficiency.
As a visionary and a strategist, the CPO develops and manages a process that works towards achieving a scalable product portfolio and that will eventually drive the profitability of the product.
Even after the creation of the product, the CPO ensures that there is a constant improvement in the product and that the product continues to meet the expectations of consumers. The position also entails identifying target consumer segments and markets. In this context, the CPO plays a major role in the evaluation of market trends and competition strategies, making it possible for the CPO to offer recommendations on product pricing and positioning.
Also, the CPO is responsible for reviewing, refining and supporting product sales strategies that have been conceived by junior product management personnel.
3. Marketing and Publicity
The CPO plays a key role in marketing the product. As head of the department, the CPO publicizes the business’s product taking advantage of the assistance of the Product Marketing and Communications departments. The CPO is also entrusted with the responsibility of designing, maintaining and improving the product so that it will consistently appeal to the consumers. This will increase the customer base as well as the sales volume.
CPO coordinates both local and international marketing information, events, conferences, demos, launches, and press. The CPO also oversees the product’s exhibition, delivering speeches and presentations at events, conferences and meetings.
In the course of marketing, the CPO must meet and interact with current and potential consumers, informing them of the value and benefit of the product. The CPO would also source for feedback and evaluate the response and experience of the product consumers.
4. Enduring Culture
The responsibility of creating an enduring business culture and Mode of Operation falls on the CPO. The CPO sets up the procedures for conducting research, prototyping, design conceptualization, and product development across the entire department. To ensure the efficient execution of functions and boost performance across the product management department, the CPO is charged the responsibility of interviewing, recruiting, and mentoring of key product management personnel. It is also pertinent that the CPO creates a sustainable and dynamic work environment that attracts and retains relevant talent in the department.
5. Research and Analysis
Apart from reviewing, refining and offering recommendations on any research carried out by junior personnel in the product management department, the CPO is also responsible for the performance of different product analyses. One of the many benefits of these analyses is that it helps to establish product differentiation and this would eventually lead to the success of the product. The researches and analyses conducted by the CPO are necessary for determining the cost and utility of the product.
It is necessary to bear in mind that the duties of the CPO can extend beyond the above-listed responsibilities. The business’s stakeholders and employer primarily define the roles and obligations of the CPO. Considering that the CPO should possess the ability to influence, ability to develop product strategy and ability to execute, prospective first-time CPO’s will certainly lack sufficient experience in certain areas.
When it comes to the ability to influence, there is a huge difference between occupying the position of a CPO in a large technology company and working within an earlier stage business. An individual who has only worked in a small company may be overwhelmed by the blurred lines of responsibility and the number of stakeholders in a larger business. On the other hand, those who have worked in a much bigger company may find it challenging to work with strong-willed stakeholders in resource-constrained environments.
Consequently, most companies regardless of their size who are interested in hiring a CPO will prefer candidates who have worked in both types of environment. The experience of working for both a large and small company gives the candidate greater future career opportunities in the function.
As a CPO it is important to demonstrate that you can drive product strategy. Having experience in localizing or implementing product strategies devised elsewhere as well as driving product management globally is key. This need does not necessarily mean owning the entire product; it could entail having responsibility for a key feature. The position of CPO requires that you possess the ability to handle the responsibility of making major decisions. A CPO needs to be prepared at all times to answer questions about the success of the product in the market and competitive environment.
That is why the individual should have great verbal and written communication skills. CPO’s are charged with the responsibility of making presentations to business stakeholders, giving reports about the various aspects of the product’s development such as its marketing, research, analytics, and profitability. The CPO will also charge with the responsibility of making presentations to junior product management employees in team building meetings as well as interacting with consumers during conferences and marketing initiatives. It is therefore of utmost importance that the CPO communicates clearly, concisely and accurately.
As the leader of product management department, the CPO should have excellent leadership skills. Besides being creative, the CPO should demonstrate analytical and strategic talents that would motivate junior personnel in the department to follow laid down directives and specification. Good leadership skills will help the CPO to earn the trust and confidence of stakeholders. Good leadership skills involve more than just effective communication; it also involves the ability to motivate and inspire team members with professionalism and clarity.
Another quality of a CPO is the ability to resolve conflicts quickly. A Lack of problem-solving skills will adversely affect the smooth performance of functions.
You should be able to think strategically and also have exceptional analytical skills that will help to achieve success in the product management department. A CPO should also have the ability to define and evaluate various product metrics and also know the right time apply each so as to lead the product to achievement of its financial goals.
Conclusively, there are some interpersonal skills that a CPO must possess. They include: the ability to work independently, an impressive degree of professional and personal integrity, ability to work effectively with others, attention to details, ability to prioritize and conceptualize, exceptional problem solving and organizational skills, and an insatiable drive to make things better.
With the growing demand for chief product officers, there are many opportunities for candidates to take their career to the next level. For a successful transition, you need to build your skills and manage your career the right way.