What Does It Take to be a Product Manager

Aug 19, 2021

5 Min Read

Product managers determine customer needs and larger business objectives, define success for a product, and rally a team to turn that vision into reality.

What do Product Managers do?

Their job is to find a product that is meaningful, functional, and affordable. The product manager’s responsibility is to ensure that the product supports the broader strategy and mission of the company. The product manager is in charge of bringing a differentiated product to market that meets a market demand while also representing a feasible business idea.

Product management is the convergence of business, technology, and user experience.

A competent product manager should have experience in at least one of these areas, be passionate about all three, and be associated with practitioners in all of them.

Business

As a business function, product management is primarily concerned with maximizing the value of a product. Optimization of a product to achieve business goals while maximizing return on investment should be the obsession of product managers.

Technology

If you don’t know how something will be built, there’s no point in defining it. A product manager does not have to code. However, to make the right decisions, you must understand the technology stack and the level of performance involved. In an agile world, where product managers spend far more time with the project team than anyone else, makes this point even more important!

User Experience

Last but not least, the product manager serves as the user’s voice within the organization and must be ambitious about the user experience. Again, this does not imply being a pixel pusher, but you must be out there testing the product, talking to users, and getting feedback on everything there is to see in a start-up.

Skill Requirements for a Product Manager

In most cases, the job description of a product manager encompasses a plethora of abilities. However, the majority of Product Manager Roles include several key components:

Domain Expertise

Your knowledge of your market and product area is frequently the reason companies will hire you. The fact that you know your customers and the business is a critical reason you were entrusted to be a product manager.

Business knowledge

The product manager is often referred to as the product’s CEO. Though this is not always the case, ensuring that the company generates a profit is usually involved. To keep your product profitable, you must have a diverse set of business skills.

Leadership Abilities

Many people in your company look to you for direction. If you don’t already have leadership skills, you should work on them right away.

Operational Ability

Product Managers must be able to delve deeply into the numerous nitty-gritty details required to manage a product, such as troubleshooting when something goes down or updating a spreadsheet. These tasks can sometimes be delegated, but they may occasionally be your responsibility. 

The skillset of a product manager is extremely broad and varied, and you will use them on a daily basis.

Vision

Setting a perspective of the product is the first step. This requires extensive research into your market, your customer, and the problem you’re attempting to solve for them. You must process massive amounts of data, including client feedback, quantitative data from web analytics, research reports, market trends, and statistics. To define a vision for your product, you must first understand your market and your customers, and then combine that knowledge with a healthy dose of creativity.

Once you have an objective, you must spread the word in your company. Get reactionary, even ultraconservative feedback about your product’s realistic state. If you can’t get excited about it, you’re either in the wrong job or you didn’t come up with a good vision. Every team member is critical to your success and the success of your product. Understanding that vision and being at least a little bit passionate about, is important for anyone in sales or development.

Develop a plan of action.

Start developing an actionable plan to achieve that vision. A roadmap of incremental improvements and iterative development that will bring you one step closer to your ultimate vision. This is when all of your hard work preaching to the gospel pays off. Your team dedicates itself to creating better designs, code, and solutions to the customers’ problems.

Comprehensive Details 

Now we’re getting down to business. As a product owner, you work with the development team on a daily basis, defining and iterating the product as you go, solving problems as they arise, and closely managing scope to ensure that the product is delivered on time.

The product is finally available, and you find yourself spending your days poring over data once more. You’re actively monitoring how customers use the product, talking to them about it, and generally snacking, sleeping, and trying to breathe it. Did you solve the right problem? Do your customers understand what you’re selling? Will they buy the product?

Then you repeat the process. And it is no longer a waterfall process. You’re not doing this step by step; instead, you’re doing it for a dozen products or features at once, shifting from strategy to techniques as you go.

Does that sound tough?

Sure, it’s a difficult job, but it’s also one of the most enjoyable jobs you’ll ever have if it’s meant for you. You get to define the essence of a product, design solutions to your customers’ problems, collaborate with everyone in the company and play a significant role in its success. Some like to think of product managers as the glue that gets things moving forward in the tech world.

Outcome

The role of a product manager is one of the best training grounds for moving up to positions such as vice president, general manager, or CEO. And, if you’re lucky and pick wisely, you’ll get to work with some pretty talented engineering and development teams to create products that delight your customers, make a significant difference in their lives, and help your company achieve profits and strategic objectives that elevate it to success.

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