The Birth Of A Product Manager's Training Program - Pharmaceutical Executive

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The Birth Of A Product Manager's Training Program


Successful Product Manager's Handbook


Q: Were there any unexpected challenges in the development process?

Actually, there were. We cut our teeth on a very large and in-depth module, Business Planning (some companies call it Market Planning). It covers everything from data gathering to situation assessment and SWOT [Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats] analysis, to creating a promotional strategy and then communicating the Business Plan to management and, eventually, the sales force.

We created interactive mini-movies, exercises, and worksheets for each of these components, so the amount of work involved was staggering and incredibly complex from both a writing and a production perspective.

But here was the problem: Initially, we were just getting input from the Product Directors group; we soon realized we needed to develop a methodology for development and review of content that focused on one "go to" contact for us along with a team of reviewers.

So Alexandra and Jim identified a unique group of four to six individuals [Directors] at Allergan to serve as a review committee for each of the identified modules, and chose one of them to be the content "expert" and primary contact for The Wellington Group.

Now we have a very systematic approach to creating content. First, we work with our assigned contact to create a detailed content outline for each module. That outline is then reviewed by the entire committee. Next, we work directly with our assigned expert to locate information resources within Allergan and to review our initial drafts. Sometimes that entails a bit of detective work, but eventually a final draft is ready to submit to the review committee.

Once the outline is approved, we design the exercises and the production work begins. Production usually takes between one and two months, depending on the complexity of the module, before it goes live on the PMRC Web site.

We also designed the PMRC so it could grow and change as Allergan's informational needs changed. And we wanted the PMs to be able to access a variety of resources85from the modules themselves [available as printable pdfs] , to case-based exercises and answer keys, to printable worksheets, to topic-specific glossaries.

Q: I was curious about Pete Moss, the fictional PM you created to be part of your program, and the equally fictional product Ocutan.

We wanted the PMRC to reflect the case-based learning style that is used in many MBA programs. He is very realistic. We keep hoping someone at Allergan will call up Jim or Alexandra and ask which floor Pete Moss' office is on.

Q: In the end, what do you think the payoff will be for Allergan?

The PMRC helps them take a consistent approach to managing their brands, but also I think it will give them an important hiring edge. Allergan can now demonstrate to potential hires that they support their Product Managers and give them the tools to do their jobs well. Finally, this program helps to shorten the learning curve for new PMs, establishes clear job expectations, and helps to build a team of professionally competent Product Managers.


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Source: Successful Product Manager's Handbook,
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