"Design is often the most immediate way of defining what products become in people's minds."

Glossary of Product Management

Note: you also may want to check out the UX Design Glossary on this site!

Definitions below apply universally to all forms of Product Management:
  • software and apps,
  • websites,
  • hardware,
  • business processes.

My Product Management GlossaryAdopter… A term used to define a customer or organization that obtains and uses technologies developed by others. An adopter is sometimes a “user” of a technology or technologies, as is the case with many XaaS products.

Advertisement (or Ad)… A paid marketing message – often presented as a promotion – delivered in writing, verbally, or graphically through a variety of media, including periodicals (print), television, radio, the internet, etc.

Advertising Agency… A business whose purpose is to create, place, and monitor the performance of advertisements.

Assumption… When used in a Business Case, forecast, or other planning document, an assumption is a statement that relates to a potential future state or future situation.

Attribute… A characteristic of a product that may include a color, design, style, form, shape, or feature.

Audit… An inspection of the plans, procedures, or records of a part of a business to determine whether or not a plan was followed and if a desired outcome was achieved. In “The Product Manager’s Desk Reference,” an audit looks into various aspects of a product launch or a bidding situation.

Average Cost… Average cost of a unit of product is made up of its fixed cost divided by the number of units produced, plus the variable cost per unit.

B2B (Business to Business)… Refers to trade between businesses or between businesses and distributors.

B2C (Business to Consumer)… Refers to trade or commerce between businesses and consumers, often at the retail level.

Baseline… A set of data or information about an aspect of a business (or product) that provides a point of perspective from which future options can be evaluated. A baseline analysis during the product strategy formulation process allows a product manager to assess the past and current business and market environment for a product, so that future strategic options can be considered.

Benchmark… A study that compares the actual or observed performance of a business activity, process, method, or function to a standard of competence.

Benefit… Something of value as perceived by a customer.

Beta Test (or Beta Trial)… Testing of a product by a friendly customer or customers who are willing to use the product as intended

Bottom-Up Forecast… This type of forecast method begins with the determination of the demand for a product by a single customer and builds the forecast upward based on multiple customers, and so on.

Brainstorming… A creative technique used to come up with ideas or concepts. In Product Management, brainstorming can be used for product ideation or general problem solving.

Brand… That which is created by a business to convey a desired image by a business. It is often the sum total of intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights, packaging, slogans, logos, or other unique identifiers that creates an impression on the marketplace.

Brand Manager… In many companies, a brand manager’s role is equivalent to that of a product manager. The brand manager influences the marketing mix for a product, a group of products, a category of products, or even for a market segment or segments.

Break-Even Point… A calculation to determine how much product a company must sell in order to make back its original investment. As a tool, it measures the impact on various new product or product extension possibilities. It is also a good tool to rank product or marketing investment options.

Brochure… A market communication tool which is usually written and may contain graphics, whose goal is to communicate specific messages to a target customer. It may contain information about the business, its mission, vision, or charter. It may contain information that communicates value, benefits, or other unique information. Brochures can take many forms, including product-specific brochures or company/brand brochures. They are sometimes called bi-folds, tri-folds, or slim-jims, etc. Brochures done on a single sheet of paper are often called flyers. Flyers that include detailed product specifications and descriptions are sometimes called spec sheets.

Budget… An estimate of product sales, prices, costs, and expenses over a specified time period, which is typically a year. Another way to think of a budget is to refer to it as a spending road map.

Bundle… A grouping of products sold to a customer that – together – seek to solve a customer’s problem or fulfill a specific need. Customers who are offered bundles may have an opportunity to shop the different parts to get the best deal. However, many businesses use bundling as a way to sell a solution.

Business Case… An assessment of the costs and benefits associated with a proposed initiative – often presented as a formal document used to justify investments in new products, product enhancements, and marketing expenditures.

Business Intelligence… A method used to analyze and interpret business performance data so that fact-based business decisions can be made. The business data referred to in BI is usually extracted from a variety of domains and databases, and presented in a way to bring about more efficient analysis.

Business/Portfolio Plans… Explicit directions for creating or evolving business units or product lines. Although these plans are ongoing, they are usually developed for and measured against specific time periods.

Business Process Management… A field in operations management that focuses on improving corporate performance by managing and optimizing a company’s business processes. It can be described as a “business process optimization effort.” It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient and more capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach. Successful BPM effort results in cost reduction and/or revenue generation.

Buyer… The actual purchaser of a product. A buyer may or may not be the ultimate consumer or user. Typically charged with negotiating the best price and placing the order.

Call to Action… An action requested or required in response to a marketers promotion or message.

Campaign… An outbound marketing activity orchestrated to bring about an explicit business result. For example, an advertising campaign may be created to generate sales leads.

Cannibalization… When products from a product portfolio are sold in the market at the same time, and one product draws sales away from the other. In this case, one product is said to cannibalize the potential sales of the other product. Overall, this may have a negative impact on the combined portfolio.

Capability… Can be used to describe an aspect of a product or a skill set of a product team member.

Cash Flow… The movement of funds into and out of a company.

Champion… An informal role fulfilled by an individual who takes a powerful, passionate interest in a project, product, or program, with the conviction to see the project to a successful conclusion.

Checklist… A list of work items or tasks that usually serves as a reference to determine whether or not the tasks were completed at a specific milestone. Checklists are used for reviews during the phases of product planning, development, and the launch.

Client… A specific customer with a specific need, often in a relationship involving the delivery of professional services.

Commercialization… A process of converting a technology into a product

Commoditize (Commodify)… The transformation of the market for a unique, branded product into a market based on undifferentiated products through increased competition, resulting in price pressures (downward).

Company Board… The entity of a company that is responsible for the definition and communication of strategy, vision and mission to the rest of the company. Also, it has the managerial supervision of the different departments, including product management.

Compete… To strive to outperform others. Often in relation to quality, product performance, time, benefits, price, financial performance, etc.

Competitive Factor… A basis on which to choose between different ways of meeting specific needs. For example, attributes represent competitive factors on which choices are made between competing products.

Competitive Strategy… A broad approach used by corporations or organizations to gain an advantage over competitors.

Competitor… A company meeting similar needs by serving the same market segments or targets with similar products.

Concept… An idea for a product or service. As concepts evolve, they are progressively assessed for technical and economic feasibility, and may lead to development and ultimate commercialization.

Core Competency… Specialized skills or experiences of members of a cross-functional team. Core competencies are those that the company believes are critical for its success.

Cost(s)… Costs represent funds expended for materials, labor, or overheads or are incurred in the direct production of sales (revenue). In the profit and loss statement, revenue minus costs equals gross margin.

Critical Path… Represents a series of tasks that are dependent upon one another. A critical path network is a plan for the execution of a project which consists of activities and their logical relationship to one another.

Critical Path Method (CPM)… A technique used to predict project duration by analyzing which sequence of activities has the least amount of scheduling flexibility. The Critical Path Method is a modeling process that defines all the project’s critical activities that must be completed on time. The start and finish dates of activities in the project are calculated in two passes. The first pass calculates early start and finish dates from the earliest start date forward. The second pass calculates the late start and finish activities from the latest finish date backwards. The difference between the pairs of start and finish dates for each task is the float or slack time for the task. Slack is the amount of time a task can be delayed without delaying the project completion date. By experimenting with different logical sequences and /or durations the optimal project schedule can be determined.

Cross-Functional Team… A group of people with different functional expertise and reporting responsibilities working toward a common goal.

Culture… Culture refers to the environment, paradigms, beliefs, ideals, actions, skill-sets, or behaviors of an organization.

Customer-Centric… Having all business activities directed toward understanding customer needs and preferences and in the creation of products and services offering true benefits for those customers.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)… A business strategy built on a foundation of being customer centric. The central themes include maximizing revenue through the achievement of high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty and optimal customer interactions at each and every touch point.

Decision Maker… In customer segmentation, the Decision Maker gives the final approval to purchase goods or services. Typically, this is based upon the recommendation of the user/influencer.

Definition (product)… The description of attributes, functions, or capabilities of a product or service to satisfy the stated or implied needs of a targeted customer or customer segment. Products are described in requirements documents to developers who then create the product for the target audience.

Development organization (or Developer)… An organization or individual who develops or creates products (“develops” may include new development, modification, reuse, reengineering, maintenance, or any other activity that results in products) for itself or another organization.

Discounted Cash Flow… The effect of a projects influence on the cash flow of the firm over the life of the project. To compensate for funds received in the future being worth less than money earned today the future inflows are discounted to their present day values.

Distribution Channel… (also known as Placement Channel) An organization or set of organizations (go-betweens) involved in the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user.

Economies of Scale… Cost advantages that an organization enjoys due to expansion of production volume.

Economics of Scope… Cost advantages that an organization obtains due to diversification.

Elasticity… The degree to which one economic variable changes in response to a change in another economic variable. Elasticity of demand is a way to measure how the change in price may impact the change in demand.

Environmental Analysis… Relating to the collection of, and analysis of information on political, cultural, social, demographic, economic, legal, international and other forces.

Feasibility (phase)… The process of screening ideas for technical, market, and economic feasibility. Often represented in a preliminary business case or other screening document.

Financials… Referring to the basic financial statements (P&L, cash flow, or balance sheet) and the analysis thereof.

Fixed Cost… Costs that stay the same, regardless of the number of units produced.

Focus Group… A method of gathering quantitative data on the preferences and beliefs of customers or users through a facilitated interaction (usually in groups) and discussion usually focused on a specific topic or product.

Forecast… The outcome of a series of exercises and analysis that helps a company, division, or product group to predict the number of units they might sell or produce, or the market share they could attain.

Functional Requirement… A statement that identifies what a product or process must accomplish to produce required behavior and/or results.

Functions… Organizations such as Marketing, Customer Service, Finance, Development, etc.

Gantt Chart… Particular type of bar chart showing planned activity against time.

Goal (as in a product or market goal)… A specific statement derived from a corporate strategy regarding a desired accomplishment over time.

Image… The concept of impression or perceptions by customers, made by an organization or a product.

Inbound Marketing… The efforts devoted to securing data and information from a variety of sources so that it can be used to guide Marketing Plans and programs.

Industry… A grouping of companies or competitors who produce and sell similar products and services.

Innovation Management… The discipline of managing processes in innovation. It can be used to develop both product and organizational innovation. Without proper processes, it is not possible for R&D to be efficient; innovation management includes a set of tools that allow managers and engineers to cooperate with a common understanding of goals and processes. The focus of innovation management is to allow the organization to response to external or internal opportunity, and use its creative efforts to introduce new ideas, processes or products.

Innovation… Refers to the solving of a customer or market problem in a way that is more unique than anything else that exists in the market. The solution can include either a radical or incremental change to a product or service.

Integrated Marketing Strategy… A tightly linked set of strategies that are connected, timed, and coordinated to achieve marketing goals.

Intellectual Property (IP)… An intangible right to an idea or process associated with added value. Examples include trademarks, patents, and know-how.

Justification… A persuasive argument, often through a business case or similar document, to justify funding for a project.

Lean Software Development… (LSD) A translation of lean manufacturing and lean IT principles and practices to the software development domain. LSD started with the JIT (just-in-time) system, which was first adopted by Toyota and later became the Toyota Production System, or TPS; then, in 2001-2003, LSD practices evolved into the following seven principles (listed here in the order of importance): (1) Eliminate, (2) Build integrity in, (3) Amplify learning, (4) Decide as late as possible, (5) Deliver as fast as possible, (6) Empower the team, and (7) See the whole.

Licensing… A legal process to transfer the rights or intellectual property from one organization to another.

Life Cycle Management… See Product Life Cycle

Lifetime Value… The value of a customer to a business over the entire lifespan or time that a customer could do business with that firm. This is an important measurement in determining optimal target customer groups. Lifetime value is a function of the costs associated with acquiring and maintaining the customer in relation to the amount of business a customer will generate over the time of the relationship. (Customer lifetime value = Revenue received less cost to acquire and maintain)

Market… Place or domain – physical or conceptual – that encompasses buyers, sellers and users of a product or service. It may involve systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange of products for money, for financial instruments or for other products.

Market Development… Expanding the total market served by (1) entering new segments, (2) converting nonusers, (3) increasing use by present users.

Market Penetration… The rate at which market share is gained over time.

Market Research… The systematic collection, recording and analyzing of data with respect to a particular market, where market refers to a specific user group in a specific geographic area.

Market Segmentation… A method of identifying a group of customers or customer types, within the context of a broad market. These broad groups can then be divided into specific subsets. Both customer types and subsets have similar characteristics and needs. Segments can be identified by examining demographic, psychographic, ethnographic, and geographic dimensions.

Market Share… The percent of total sales achieved by one company selling a specific type of product into a specific segment or sector.

Market Target… A subset of a market segment with a set of characteristics that are closely aligned and represent a focused marketing opportunity for a company.

Marketing Mix… The combination of tactical and strategic actions designed to optimize a product’s performance in its targeted markets. The marketing mix is represented by most sources as the ’4 Ps of Marketing’ – namely, Product, Pricing, Promotion, and Placement.

Marketing Plan… A document describing a business opportunity (linkage to business case) and the strategies to move the product into the marketplace.

Marketing… Marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others. Mrketing traditionally encompasses four critical elements – Product, Pricing, Promotion and Placement, which are collectively known as 4Ps of Marketing.

Mission (corporate)… The explicitly stated, desired or actual purpose of a company, expressed in a broad, task oriented form such that it will encompass the ultimate boundaries for its operation and ongoing directions.

Network Diagram… The network diagram is used as a representation of the critical path method. See Critical Path Method.

New Product Development (NPD)… The process utilized to conceive of and create a product and all its supporting documentation and services, including eventual commercialization and introduction into the marketplace with full marketing plans ready to execute selling in all selected channels.

Non-functional Requirement… Non-functional requirements are the ones that act to constrain the product. Non-functional requirements are sometimes known as constraints or quality requirements.

Opportunity Cost… The costs associated by giving up one opportunity in favor of another.

Outbound Marketing… Encompasses the work activities carried out to create programs that communicate messages or position products to customers and analysts, using advertising, public relations activities, and other events.

Packaging… The manner in which a product is presented to a customer or user. It represents the materials, labels, and messages to position the product and indicate its contents.

Paradigm… A frame of reference, often ascribed to a given corporate culture or pattern of experiences.

Patent… A set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state (government) to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. Patents are a form of intellectual property. A ‘Utility Patent’ is a solution to a specific technological problem and is usually a product, process, system or method. A ‘Design Patent’ is a solution limited to aesthetic presentation of a product.

Perception… Perception is the cognitive impression that is formed of “reality” which in turn influences the individual’s actions and behavior toward that object.

Persona… Fictitious characters that are created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic.

Place… Relating to channels of distribution, e.g., retail, wholesale, direct, indirect, etc. An organization or set of organizations (go-betweens) involved in the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user.

Plan… A detailed path to achieve an objective. Plans can take the following forms: Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan, Product Plan, etc.

Portfolio (product)… A suite of products managed together to maximize the value of the firm. Comprised of new product projects, projects in development, and products in various stages of the life cycle.

Portfolio Management… The process of managing a suite of products and services to maximize returns to the organization.

Positioning… The process of image development through consistent, systematic, and visible reinforcement of desired marketplace perceptions.

Press Conference… A public relations marketing event facilitating communication between organizations and media representatives.

Price/Pricing… The amount of money charged for a product. Pricing is the process of defining value and benefits for a product or service.

Product… A product is a combination of goods and services, which a supplier/development organization combines in support of its commercial interests to transfer defined rights to a customer. It can also be described as bundle of attributes or features, functions, benefits and uses capable of exchange – in both tangible and intangible forms. The term ‘product’ is also used collectively to describe all goods or services in any context.

Product Data Management (PDM)… The process by which data is managed throughout a product’s life cycle. PDM manages the relationships between data elements to provide control of product components during the creation and revision processes. PDM has specific elements to apply process methods. Some of the process features provided by these elements include configuration management, change management, workflow, signoff and document vaulting. PDM allows enterprise wide sharing of timely and accurate information without duplication of data.

Product Launch… The introduction of a new product to a market.

Product Life Cycle… The sum total of all phases a product goes through, from concept, feasibility, definition, development, launch, and post-launch strategic management (growth, maturity, decline, discontinuance, and market exit) Product Life Cycle Management: Active, ongoing management of all strategic, tactical, financial aspects of a product or product line in order to meet long term objectives for that item.

Product Lifecycle Management… Product lifecycle management is a comprehensive approach for product-related information and knowledge management within an enterprise, including planning and controlling of processes that are required for managing data, documents and enterprise resources throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Product Lifecycle… The product life cycle describes a product from its conception to its discontinuance and market withdrawal.

Product Management… The process of managing products throughout the product life cycle.

Product Plans… Explicit directions for introducing and/or managing single products.

Product Positioning… The way customers view competitive brands or products or, the manner in which products are presented and described to stakeholders, including internal teams, analysts, and customers.

Product Roadmap… A document that provides a layout of the product releases to come over a time frame of three to five years. The creation of a roadmap is influenced by the product strategy designed for this product.

Product Strategy… Consistent methodology and underlying documentation containing the following items and their evolution during the strategic time span of up to 5 years: (1) Product vision, (2) Product definition, (3) Target market and market segmentation, (4) Delivery model, (5) Product positioning strategy, (6) Pricing strategy, (7) Sourcing, (8) Business objectives, (9) Strategic roadmap.

Product-Technology Roadmap… A product-technology roadmap provides an overview of the relationship between product releases (product evolution or evolvement) and successive technology generations.

Project Management… Planning, monitoring and control of all aspects of a project and the motivation of all those involved in it to achieve the project objectives on time and to the specified cost, quality and performance.

Promotional Mix… The mix of communication techniques including advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, and public relations/ product publicity available to the marketer to achieve specific goals such as awareness building or lead generation.

Quality Control… (aka Quality Assurance) An ongoing analysis of business operations and product performance, to verify that goods or services meet specified standards, or to manage product quality and reliability.

Release Definition… The selection of requirements to be implemented in the next product increment.

Requirements Management… The activities, that control requirements development, including requirements change control, requirements attributes definition, and requirements traceability.

Requirements Prioritization… Requirements prioritization is defined as the activity during which the most important requirements for the system are discovered. As priorities change over time this activity is often targeted for the next release of the product.

Research & Development… The application of knowledge in scientific and engineering arenas to uncover approaches to the development of, as well as actual development or creation of products.

Return on Investment (ROI)… The rate of return which is used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.

Revenue or Sales… Total funds coming into the firm for goods produced. Usually derived as prices charged x units sold for tangible goods. Often the sum total of the mix of items sold, including products and services.

Roadmaps (product)… Long term evolution plans for product lines or products, based on market, competitive and technological drivers.

Royalty… A payment made to an inventor or owner of intellectual property for the right to manufacture or sell a product or service, using the inventor’s process or intellectual property.

Scenario… An account or synopsis of a projected course of action, events or situations. Scenario development is used in policy planning, organizational development and, generally, when organizations wish to test strategies against uncertain future developments.

Software Product Family… A group of software products that for marketing reasons are marketed as belonging together under a common family name.

Software Product Lines… A set of software-intensive systems that share a common, managed set of features satisfying the specific needs of a particular market segment or mission, and that are developed from a common set of core assets in a prescribed way.

Software Release Management… Software release management is the process through which software is made available to, and obtained by, its users.

Software Requirement… A software requirement is a property which must be exhibited by a software developed or adapted to solve some problem in the real world.

Solution… A combination of products, services, and other elements that solve complex problems, have a high degree of integration across disparate elements, and usually require customization for a specific customer type or industry. Compare to Bundle.

Strategic Plan… A plan presenting a corporate vision and mission, defines strategic direction, establishes high level organizational goals, and synchronizes activities and structures to achieve those goals.

Support… Support stands for the helpdesk to answer questions (1st line support) and for small defect repair unit (2nd line support). Large defect repair is usually performed by Development (3rd line support).

SWOT… A situation analysis whereby a firm assesses its own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (vulnerabilities). SWOT analysis is also an important dimension of competitor analysis.

Tactics… The art or skill of employing available means to accomplish and end or a system or mode of procedure.

Target Market… A target market or target audience is the market segment which a particular product is marketed to. It is often defined by age, gender and/or socio-economic grouping. Market Targeting is the process in which intended actual markets are defined, analyzed and evaluated just before the final decision to enter is made.

Trademark… A distinctive sign, which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise.

User… In customer segmentation, the user is the one who typically identifies the problem, researches solutions, and presents to the Decision Marker possible recommendations.

Value… The sum of benefits received in exchange for payment. That which customers purchase.

Value Chain… The series of steps or sequence of actions by which a product is conceived, created, and made available to customers. It is comprised of R&D, Sourcing, Manufacturing, Operations, Logistics (inbound and outbound), Sales, Distribution, and Customer Service.

Value Proposition… The total package of benefits which a vendor or supplier promises that a customer will receive. Benefits can be both qualitative and quantitative.

Value-Added… Refers to the addition of something else of value to a customer as a vendor attempts to solve a customer’s business problem. Value-added services, for example, might include the addition of consulting services or in customizing a product explicitly for a customer.

Variable Cost… A cost that varies with quantity produced.

Vision… A guiding theme that articulates the nature of the business and its intentions for the future, based upon how management believes the environment will unfold.

Work Structure… The specific manner in which the people resources of a company are organized to achieve the goals and objectives through execution of strategic and tactical plans.