Each product that is manufactured and launched in the market has a predefined purpose: to serve its end-users and help the organization behind it grow. Managing all activities within a product’s lifecycle and achieving set goals is the responsibility of a so-called product manager.
Product managers deal with everything from market analysis, goal setting, team and backlog management to user interviews, negotiations with stakeholders, and finally collaboration with other departments like sales, marketing, and design.
If you wish to find out what skills and qualities make a good project manager, this article is for you. We’ll explain the following topics.
A product manager is a person responsible for defining the strategy, roadmap, and features of a developed product. The role sometimes may also include forecasting, product marketing as well as profit and loss activities.
Product managers analyze the market and competition helping to develop a cohesive product vision that will deliver the best value in answering customer demands.
Product managers connect business strategy, design knowledge, and customer needs to develop a product that is valuable, feasible, and relevant. They want to optimize the product to achieve business goals while simultaneously maximizing the return on investment. Product managers act as a bridge between three core product development groups: developers, business (sales, marketing, etc.), and users/customers.
Product managers have a lot of different responsibilities. Those will depend on, for example, company size.
In large organizations, PMs are a part of specialized teams that deal with research, analysis, marketing, design, and development gathering input and managing day-to-day executions. In smaller businesses, most of their time is dedicated to hands-on work like defining and executing a vision.
The primary responsibilities of PMs can be broken down into the following areas.
At the highest level, product managers set the product’s main vision and strategic direction. That involves coming up with the major areas of investment and preparing a product roadmap. Product managers are in charge of determining the immediate work and long-term strategy. They are expected to have a vision of the product’s future and how it aligns with the other products, market trends, and competition.
Managing product feature backlog is also one of the most important responsibilities of product managers. They have to ensure that the team stays on track, there are no downtimes, and that the team focuses on developing the most important features. Backlog management for PMs includes:
In an agile-based development process, there are characteristic meetings where the team talks about what they worked on and what they will be working on. It’s also a great time to discuss any blockers hindering the development. Usually, scrum masters are the ones who conduct those meetings, but a PM may also serve as a scrum master if needed.
Talking to customers helps product managers efficiently plan upcoming product features, gather feedback, and better understand their needs.
Product managers tend to spend a significant amount of their time in meetings. They often meet with sales, marketing, and business development teams to ensure their actions are aligned, as well as business executives to keep them up to date with the progress.
Gathering and analyzing data is crucial for any good PM as it helps to identify the core business values, prepare plans, and apply necessary feedback.
Since product managers are responsible for ensuring a smooth flow of information they can also be responsible for documentation. PMs are great at gathering information from various sources and teams and sharing the key points with appropriate stakeholders. They often are in charge of documenting meetings, release dates, and user flows.
Gathering comprehensive specifications of new features and products including business goals, user stories, and any requirements can also be a part of PMs’ responsibilities. They can also prepare wireframes and user journeys and iteratively review specs by applying input gathered from other teams.
Within product management, there are different types of product managers. Every company defines the role a bit differently according to its offering, customers, and general product strategy.
We can say that the bigger the organization the more variety of product leaders it needs. Since product managers often come from positions in other departments like sales, marketing, or software development their skills in the role will differ, which means they can become a PM specialized in a given field.
If a team is following scrum methodology, the position of product owner also comes into the picture. Product owners can be hard to differentiate from product managers, but there is a general task breakdown that might help with that.
Product managers are responsible for finding the balance between the tactical side of project management and the strategic one. They can’t overlook the details but simultaneously lose sight of the big picture.
They are team players but have a firm hand as they’re the ones accountable for the success or failure of the product. PMs know exactly when to push their teams to work harder and balance their gut feeling with where the hard evidence leads them.
If you’re thinking about becoming a product manager, you should consider 3 factors that make up a good PM, which are: core skills, emotional intelligence, and company fit.
The core qualities of a good product manager often come with experience. The most crucial ones include:
PMs should be able to empathize with customers as well as team members. If they fail to do so, they likely won’t be able to build the necessary trust. Apart from that, they should also have:
If the company fit is not in place, even the most skillful PM can fail since all the skills should be applied in the right company. A job description for a product manager can differ from company to company and is often defined by its size, the type of product it sells, and the industry it operates in.
Older generations went into product management from other departments including finance, marketing, design, and engineering.
Nowadays, younger generations often start their career with product management in mind. Let us give you some tips and tricks if you wish to become a product manager.
A natural-born great product manager is one in a million. People with amazing vision, aligned skills, strong influence, and charisma are a rare breed.
However, most of the skills of a good PM can be learned and developed with time and experience. There are lots of resources that combine theoretical aspects of the job with more practical skills. Relevant books, courses, and videos can help you polish your skills and become a powerful leader.
Be open, learn as much as possible and get to work. Good luck!