Everything A Product Manager Needs To Know But Might Not Know To Ask

Mar 03, 2008

When Jim Trunick got together with Allergan's marketing directors, they told him they were making presentations to senior management. They said: "Some of our marketing presentations are good, and some of our marketing presentations need more work. We aren't always sure what are the best practices, or what the best requirements are for business plan development and for marketing communications."

To Trunick, who is Allergan's senior director of corporate training, this meant product management was all over the board.

"Basically, it was development by on-the-job training," he says.

Allergan had just undergone a tremendous growth spurt, expanding from three divisions to five in three years. "We are a urology division; we are a neuroscience division; we are a dermatology company; we are an eye-care company. We are also Allergan Medical, which includes what we call our aesthetics business—the lap band, the breast implant, and the Botox cosmetic business," says Trunick.

Allergan At a Glance
And now, all five divisions are growing.

"The opportunity was there to provide some education, some training, and some development for the marketing directors. But equally important was the development of the product managers," says Trunick. "That's where Kathy Osvath and her team came in."

Osvath, president of the Wellington Group, had been developing product- and disease-state-related training programs for Allergan and other healthcare companies for more than 15 years. Getting together with Trunick to talk about product-management training was fortuitous. A former product manager herself, she'd dreamed of developing such a program (see "The Birth Of A Product Manager's Training Program").

"Kathy became involved with some of our marketing directors, and she started shepherding some ideas around about how to gain a more consistent, best-in-class, center-of-excellence type of program for product-management development," says Trunick. "Culturally, Allergan was changing not just because of our growth, the acquisition of other companies, and other joint ventures with the groups. It was also because of government regulations, managed care shifts, and changes in the way we were conducting business.

"All of this required us to have a profile for a marketing manager who was an expert in everything. And it became very difficult to clarify what the requirements were for a product manager who would come on board and who then would have to do very different things within six months with managed care, or with other kinds of things on pricing or even inventory."

On-the-Job Learning

Product-management training is not new in the industry. What is new, however, is the slow realization of the need to expand existing training to optimize brand-team performance.

Also new is the move to shift training out of the classroom and onto the PC. And newer still is the concept of a custom-made program, the likes of which was developed by Allergan.

Coproduced by Allergan, the Wellington Group, and of one of their medical education and training consultants, the Product Manager Resource Center (PMRC) was launched in April 2007. It is expected to be fully completed by the end of 2008.

Osvath, Trunick, and Alexandra Barton, who is senior manager of human resources at Allergan, codeveloped the program with extensive input from the company's marketing divisions, which shared in both the process as well as the allocation of associated costs.

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