Introduction: Getting Your Act Together

March 3, 2008
Marylyn Donahue
Successful Product Manager's Handbook

What will it take for pharma to move away from seat-of-your-pants training for product managers?

A big pharmaceutical company looking to hire a product manager recently posted a job listing for someone who would:

  • Be responsible for the development and successful implementation of a variety of marketing initiatives to grow a blockbuster in oncology.

  • Be a key member of the brand team.

  • Contribute to the development and execution of the strategic business plan, tactical program development and implementation, and ROI assessment.

  • Have extensive interactions with worldwide affiliates, key internal-support departments, external agencies, key thought leaders, and other internal/ external customers.

  • Possess excellent communications skills, including strong presentation skills; strong project-management expertise; the ability to bridge marketing and science; and the ability to manage a heavy workload common to a priority brand.

  • Be responsible for budget management, product forecasting, medical education, and market research to measure progress toward objectives.

Polishing up the handle on the big front door seems like the only duty not required of a product manager.

But, seriously, the job carries enormous responsibilities. Responsibilities that are becoming more varied and complex as the industry changes and the marketplace becomes more competitive. Yet most companies still have their product managers learning on the job, by the seat-of- their-pants.

A different approach is spotlighted in this volume of Pharmaceutical Executive'sThe Successful Product Manager's Handbook. It focuses on Allergan, a company that has, in the last year implemented its tailor-made, interactive, Web-based Product Manager Resource Center, which trains both new and seasoned product managers across the company's many divisions in the Allergan way of doing business.

In the better-late-than-never category is an article about the need for strategic planning in fighting off generics (See "Defusing the Time Bomb"). Astoundingly, the majority of companies still wait until the last minute, when it's too late to gain any ground at all.

Included, too, is an article on product launches and the wisdom of having a program management office, tools, and playbook in place. With launches these days, there are no second acts. It pays to be prepared.