What is retail product management

St. Gallen
Business school

Foreword by the editor

The global financial crisis that has just been overcome, the causes of which are still being suppressed rather than constructively dealt with by governments in the dizzying billions of dollars, seems to be a long way off for many economic actors. Correspondingly, companies are repositioning themselves in the direction of a promising growth path and making clever use of the strong winds from Asia. However, this happens in the knowledge that our systems can quickly collapse again due to the still uncontrolled economic situation. Due to the speed of the current political and economic changes, turbulence is to be expected in the coming years, which can certainly take on the financial crisis that has been overcome. It is therefore imperative that companies prepare for these threats today and strive for lasting stability.

This can only be achieved if management practice is guided by a thinking and acting competence with regard to corporate development that knows how to combine synthetic and analytical knowledge. On the one hand, synthetic creative ideas and new business models have to be developed. On the other hand, these must then be analyzed and optimized in the further course of the process. Above all, this also means separating from the traditional. The establishment of such a holistic corporate development competence must therefore be recognized by the company management as a primary goal. Only such competence has the potential for success from which the long-term safeguarding of viability can be fed. This is the only way corporate management can prepare for the eventuality and respond to rapid changes in a targeted and appropriate manner.

Against the background of this topic, in 2011 we will again present 3 volumes with selected practice-oriented diploma theses, which were developed within the framework of courses at the St. Gallen Business School.

In the course of their studies, the graduates of the part-time study programs dealt intensively with issues of successful holistic integrated management. The basis is the integrated, system and implementation-oriented concept of St. Gallen management teaching. This concept differentiates between normative, strategic and operational dimensions, which have to be reconciled with regard to necessary activities, structures and behavior in order to ensure long-term viability. Their analysis and subsequent conscious design offers management the opportunity to make precise statements about the development status and future direction of a company.

In currently six anthologies (3 volumes in 2010, 3 volumes in 2011), central issues of successful integrated management are discussed and illustrated using concrete practical company examples. The aim is to offer the interested readership a platform to deal with current practical issues from business practice based on the proven St. Gallen management approach.

A company's long-term market success is always the result of professional product management. Present Volume 5 is dedicated to exactly this topic with two articles. Using the example of the medium-sized Muster GmbH, the process of product development, which is a central component of sample product management, is first discussed. The strategic process for product development in this company is presented through the analysis and evaluation of the existing product segments. In the second article, the future development in the media and telecommunications market through the influence of digital information technologies is discussed. The current status is displayed on the basis of key figures. By means of market surveys, future developments are forecast and options for action are shown for market participants.

In order to successfully fulfill current and future management tasks, it is more and more crucial to understand the holistic relationships and mechanisms of action in companies and to network them with business knowledge and control instruments.

Volume 6 takes up this highly explosive topic and deals with the topics of strategic planning and controlling. The first article introduces a theory-oriented consideration of the control parameters EBIT and cash flow in order to create a uniform understanding of these two control parameters in everyday business life. The practical transfer takes place using the example of R&A AG - a model company active in the metal industry. The second article deals with the analytical and conceptual consideration of business risk management with a special focus on the identification of business risks. Applicable model approaches for the holistic management of business risks in credit institutions against the background of the financial market crisis are discussed and discussed. The third contribution focuses on the development of a planning and controlling system to control the activities of the Swiss Insurance Association. The focus of the article is on planning as a fundamental control instrument.

Volume 4 uses three articles to deal with the possibilities of holistic structure and process design in sales and marketing. The first contribution takes up the question of how centralized or decentralized a global key account management should be and illuminates this topic using the example of a medium-sized automotive supplier. Recommendations for action as well as key success factors are derived that have to be taken into account when restructuring a large-scale sales force. The second article examines the selection and implementation of the ideal sales process for the Groz-Beckert Group. Deriving from the analysis of the current situation in customer relationship management, a target concept based on lean management theory is presented. In the last article there is a critical examination of the strategic challenges in the implementation of an integrated key account management using the example of Mettler-Toledo Process Analytics AG. We hope that these practical examples give food for thought and help the creative and courageous to break new ground, because the future can only be shaped successfully with innovation and growth.

Dr. Christian Abegglen
Founding director and chairman of the board of directors of St. Gallen Business School