Who is a Product Manager? Roles & Responsibilities

A product manager is a person who is directly responsible to nurture a product idea, research on market needs, develop a business case which satisfies the market need as well as provides a profitable business opportunity. Product Manger is also responsible to further manage product development and maintenance life cycle.

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With rise of huge number of technology product companies and start-ups world wide, there is rise of a new breed of professionals called Product Managers . A product manager is a person who is directly responsible to nurture a product idea, research on market needs, develop a business case which satisfies the market need as well as provides a profitable business opportunity. Product Manger is also responsible to further manage product development and maintenance life cycle.

Last 10-15 years there is explosion of digital and information technologies world wide. This has lead to rise of massive Tech Giant Companies like Google, Facebook etc. Smartphones coupled with cheap data has triggered a wave of digital revolution across the world. Many non-technology companies are also forced to transform themselves into a technology company. For any company be it a large organization or a start-up, in today’s world, there is no alternative to work in technology and digital space.

On the other hand, for consumers technology revolution has given a very wide choice spectrum. Today for any service that a user wants to avail in digital space, there are N-number of innovative options and the consumers are often caught evaluating these options based on user reviews, ratings, features, pricing etc. Therefore, more and more technology companies and start-ups in today’s world are focusing on developing products for particular user groups rather than building massive software frameworks which will cater to all user types. These digital products focus on particular challenge faced by particular user groups and try to solve them by providing a innovative technology solution.

Role of a Product Manager is very broad and may vary from one company to another. However we can identify some core functions of a Product Manager here.

Defining Product Strategy

At the top, as a Product Manager you have to define a clear vision and strategy for your product. You have to set a clear set of goals which the product needs to achieve and also set clear business value the product should derive for the company.

The vision, goals and strategy behind development of the product should be communicated to all stakeholders clearly so that everyone is aware of the intent behind the new product.

Product manager also needs to ensure to layout clear-cut road map and major areas of focus in product development life cycle. This helps the team to prioritize the features that matters most in achieving product goals and market acceptability.

Product Ideas and Evaluation

A product is always a collection of ideas coupled with technology innovation. As a product manager you are responsible to develop new product ideas & new feature ideas. You can use crowd sourcing techniques to generate new ides. Curating the ideas further and building the business case out of those ideas is also an essential part of a Product Manger’s life. As a product manager you need to ensure a seamless process of life cycle of an idea from generation, curation, development and release stages.

Prioritizing Product Features

Being a Product Manager you should be able to set the priorities of product features for development. Any product feature should not be added just because product manager or company management feels that it is an important feature out of their own guts. Product Manager should always ensure that the features are aligned to the product vision and strategy laid out at the outset of product development.

Being a product manager, many a times you will come across some difficult situations where you will need to choose between two great feature ideas based on evaluation of value they will deliver to your customers and business. Sometimes you will have to be ruthless in rejecting product ideas suggested by some of the key stakeholders. For example, sometimes sales team would demand a feature to be included in next release just because a prospective client has promised a purchase if it is included. However if that feature does not suit overall product vision and goals you may be compelled to say NO to such feature requests.

Product Release Management

Technology products are not evolved overnight. They are always built in phases. There is never a stage in the life of a technology product where you can say that this product is now perfect in all sense and there is no further room for improvement. Building a technology product is a continuous activity. As a product manager you always have to plan your releases as per the need from your consumers, business scenario and competitor movements.

For a new product you need to absolutely clear with your product vision and goals that the product intent to achieve in its first launch. Generally you should stick to your goals and release those feature as per the release schedule. While planning your first release schedule, product manager also should work parallel to plan further release schedules.

Product manager also needs to keep track of product development life cycle and keep check with all stakeholders involved in within and outside the organization. Market timing is also one of the important factor in a Product Life Cycle. Hence as a Product Manager you have to set priorities for each release, set timelines for each release and monitor each and every stakeholder on daily basis in order to ensure that the priorities and timelines are matched.

Stakeholder Management

For any technology product there are various stakeholders that are involved withing and outside your organization. The Product Manager need to be constantly in touch with all the stakeholders and ensure that they all work seamlessly.

Various stakeholders in the life of a Technology Product

Product Manager Responsibilities

As a product manager you need to do different types of tasks on day to day basis. A typical day in the life of a product manager would involve these activities.

  • Write Business Case Studies
  • Write Market Research Document
  • Build Product Road Maps
  • Write User Stories for upcoming development sprint
  • Prepare product presentations
  • Prepare operational and financial analysis reports
  • Write white papers on industry trends


Must have skills for a Product Manager

Being a product manager you should possess certain skills which will benefit in becoming a good product manager.

Empathy

Product Manager needs to identify new product ideas or new features that will enhance the existing product. Your customers are the best source of information for getting new ideas. In customer interviews one of the most important factor is empathy. You should empathize with pain areas of the customer and try to bring out exact need of the customer and rationale behind the need. This will help immensely to develop products which are acceptable in the market.

Communication Skills

Product Manager needs to be an absolute good written and verbal communicator. He needs to be always up to date with all kinds of communications whether it is emails, messages or physical meetings. Poor or delayed communication often lead to misunderstandings between various stakeholders. Product Manager should ensure that there is no gap between understanding of various stakeholders.

Relationship Management

Success of a product manager depends on successful functioning of all stakeholders involved. Product Manager should develop impeccable relationship between all stakeholders which helps immensely in the long run. Especially the software development teams, designers and IT infrastructure management teams form the core of technology development projects. Product manager should ensure there is no friction between these teams which can lead to delays in product release.

Productivity

As you must have understood so far, product manager’s role is very wide. There are so many activities that are going on simultaneously and there are so many stakeholders involved. Managing your daily work schedule with such a wide range of activities itself becomes a task sometimes.Hence the Product Manger should be good at managing his own day to day work schedule. He should keep himself updated and motivated all the time.

Finally, if you dream to become a Product Manager you may consider above points as a starting points. You can start working on these points and develop skills. However, please note developing these skills to become a successful product manager is an ongoing process. There are no short cuts. You have to work on real products to get these experiences. Learning by doing is the best way forward.

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