What does a Product Manager do?

Jun 25, 2021

4 Min Read

People who want to make the transition to product management often wonder what Product Managers do. The title itself isn’t very descriptive so spouses, team members, and senior management of product managers sometimes are not sure either. This article will discuss the various roles a product manager may take on an average day.

Product managers need to discover what the user wants, and the problem the user is trying to solve. This information helps the product manager lead the building of product features a company needs.

For product managers, each day has its unique challenges. Some of the work may be reactive if something breaks but other times it takes extensive research and planning. For the most part, product managers’ responsibility is to do all that is needed to keep the development teams on track to get the product delivered.

Product Managers Meet. A Lot.

The role of a product manager requires you to hold meetings with stakeholders within and outside the business. There are usually product managers who specialize in external versus internal ones. They may need to meet with:

  • The product development team to discuss direction and pace. During the meetings, the team may talk to you about the issues they’re having. These meetings also allow you to compare the work they have done with the product’s goals.
  • The client discusses the challenges they face, their needs, preferences, and complaints.
  • Representatives from different departments within your business to discuss how they may use your product.

Meetings like product launches and customer visits may be recurring. Other meetings like Agile scrum occur daily as a touch base within teams. Product managers have to actively participate in these meetings to guide their teammates.

Product Managers Analyze Data

Product managers use data in many ways. They use data to predict the future and make proper plans. They also use data to communicate with stakeholders. A product manager must understand how to analyze data and derive insights from it. Data analysis will help you pinpoint improvements or problems. When customers give feedback, data analysis can help you understand what drives the response. You do not have to analyze data daily, because constantly monitoring data will prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.

Product Managers Ideate

After you analyze data and gather feedback, you have to think deeply about the insights you have gained. Your insights will help you find ways to improve the product. Good analysis may show a problem, the cause of the problem, or an opportunity for you to exploit. You, the product manager, are in the best position to create the plan of execution needed to deliver value to both the user and your organization.

You have to think about how to solve problems because you are the melting pot of all the ideas from the different units of the development team. Your role gives you a unique perspective that other team members do not have. It is one thing to think about product features. It is another thing to understand how to integrate the new product features with the existing product. Your unique position is what differentiates you.

Thinking about the product is something you have to do every day. This part of your work may even extend into non-working hours.

Product Managers Coach Others

You are constantly thinking about the product. Your constant thinking makes you understand the product features better than anyone. While talking to others about the product, you indirectly teach them how to think about the product.

Regular conversations with senior management about the project roadmap will keep them abreast of the development process. Back up your decisions with data and rationale so that senior management don’t feel the need to jump in and steer you away from your product vision.

Discussing feedback with the sales team will help them see things from your perspective. Feedback discussions can teach them how to obtain feedback from customers. Coaching all stakeholders about the product goals and objectives ultimately helps the product vision in the end.

You can help the engineering team deliver better results by involving them in product features planning. Your unique perspective can influence the way they think about the product.

Product Managers Are Accountable

According to the famous Martin Eriksson Venn diagram, product managers must constantly balance the trio of UX, technology, and business. These three sides also have further subdivisions. UX consists of product design and customer feedback.

Technology refers to engineering, devops, and data science. Business covers sales, customer success, and finance.

The product manager is the bridge that connects the users and the internal teams at every phase of the process. A product manager is like an orchestra director. An orchestra that consists of various professionals with different instruments.  When these instrumentalists perform well, the audience applauds the performers, and no one notices the director. But when the orchestra does not do well, all eyes turn on the director.

In summary, product management is an endless cycle of product iteration and obtaining feedback. Your role as the product manager is to ensure everything runs smoothly from ideation to maintenance.

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