What does a Product Manager do?

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Product management roles are hot these days – most MBA graduates with technology backgrounds (and many without!) are looking at them. This article goes into what a product manager does and what the role is all about.

A product manager is a unique role in a (usually tech) organization that can be difficult to define in a succinct sentence. The best way I have heard it described is as ‘the CEO of your product’. It’s a high level role whose responsibility is to drive a vision for an entire product or service, from inception through launch and beyond. Product managers come from various backgrounds; they may have engineering or design experience, or they may be business oriented individuals who understand how products fit into their company’s broader strategy. Some companies even hire MBA students fresh out of school to take on these roles!

Product management roles are hot these days – most MBA graduates with technology backgrounds (and many without!) are looking at them. This article goes into what a product manager does and what the role is all about.

 

Who is a product manager?

A product manager is a highly skilled professional who helps build successful products by defining the right solution that meets the needs of customers and users. They define the strategy, plan and road map for their product, as well as manage its implementation.

Product managers work at the intersection of business and technology. Their focus is on developing and managing the strategy for a product or set of products. They need to understand the business needs behind each project, but also have technical skills so that they can communicate requirements to their team and understand what their team needs from them in order to deliver their vision of the product. It’s important to keep in mind that this job is not just about coding or designing.

Product managers make sure that everything works together smoothly, from marketing to sales and from user interface to business strategy. They take care of everything!

Product managers work on every aspect of their products – from defining the user experience to understanding its technical architecture and working with engineering teams to make it a reality. They are involved in every aspect of the development process so they need to have deep knowledge of every stage in order to be effective.

In short, Product Managers, at a high level:

  • define strategy
  • set priorities (high level)
  • define requirements for features or enhancements
  • manage the road-map for releases or new versions of your software (and make sure you ship something every month or two)

 

In addition to these core responsibilities, there are many other things that product managers do. Here are some common tasks:

  • Planning and prioritizing projects
  • Creating road-maps
  • Collaborating with stakeholders (customers, executives, developers)
  • Defining customer segments and personas
  • Researching market trends and competitors
  • Creating user stories and backlogs

 

A day in the life of a product manager

It’s important to note that while all PMs have similar skillsets, they are not interchangeable positions in different companies. For instance, if you’re working at an enterprise company like Microsoft or SAP, your job will be quite different from someone who works at a startup where everything moves fast and there’s no established process yet. On top of that, every company has its own way of working so it’s not always easy to understand what exactly happens during the day of an average product manager so I decided to write this post to give you some insight into my daily routine as well as share some tips on how I became one!

 

Here are some things that PMs do on a daily basis:

9 am – 10 am: Meetings with team members and internal stakeholders. The day starts with meetings to discuss the current status of their projects and make sure everyone is aligned on what needs to be done next.

10 am – 1 pm: Planning for the future. This is when the product manager will meet with their team members to plan for upcoming releases and features. They also need to create road-maps that show where the company wants to go with their products, as well as creating user stories and backlogs for each project.

12 pm – 1 pm: Lunch break! Product managers usually eat lunch together as a team at least once a week so that they can catch up on what everyone has been working on since last week’s meeting , get a better understanding of the company’s goals and direction, and build camaraderie within the team.

1 pm – 3 pm: Discussing user stories. The user story is a simple, but effective tool that helps you plan out each project in your portfolio. It’s essentially an answer to the question “What do users want?” and it should be written from their perspective. When used effectively, user stories help product managers organize their work into small chunks that can be easily completed by developers. In turn, this allows everyone involved to stay on the same page about what needs to get done next.

3pm – 5pm: Brainstorming: This is an incredibly important step in the product development process. You need to consider every possible use case, user problem and solution before you begin building anything. Brainstorming helps you get a better idea of how users will interact with your product, which ultimately makes it easier for developers to create something that works well from the start.

5:30 pm – 7 pm: More planning! This time it’s about creating high-level plans for new features or updates that will be rolled out in future releases of the product or service. This can include researching new technologies or processes that can improve your offering or help grow your customer base.

 

What skills do you need to be a great product manager?

Product management is a broad term that covers a lot of different tasks. One of the most common misconceptions is that product managers are responsible for making the product. In reality, they manage the development process and ensure that it happens on time and within budget. Product managers also work with marketing and sales teams to create demand for their products, as well as with customer support divisions to ensure that customers are happy with their purchases.

 

Here are some of the skills that great product managers have and demonstrate in their day to day work:

 

  • Analytical skills: You’ll need to be able to analyze data from different sources in order to understand how your product is performing. This will help you make informed decisions about features and updates that will benefit your customers most. A product manager needs to know how to evaluate data in order to make decisions about whether something should be changed or improved upon based on gathered data from past experiences and research done by other companies who have dealt with similar problems in the past.
  • Business acumen: As the head of an aspect of a business, it’s important that you understand how all aspects of business work together as well as how they relate back to your own area. This includes other departments such as sales, marketing and finance, who all have input on decisions made around your product. When you’re managing multiple projects at once, planning too becomes more important than ever before. You need to plan ahead for all possible scenarios so that you can be prepared for anything that might happen during development or launch of your product. An MBA can often help.
  • Leadership skills: A product manager is responsible for leading his team members, especially when working on a specific project or product within the company. Being able to lead your team members requires leadership skills such as being able to motivate them and guide them towards achieving goals set by the company or its clients.
  • Team management and communication skills: Product managers need to be good at communicating with their team members and stakeholders. They have to explain what they want from their team members and how they want it done. You will be managing other people on your team, so it’s important that you can communicate effectively with them and motivate them towards achieving common goals. Your team members will also learn from you if they see that you’re passionate about what you do and care about their opinions when making decisions about their work responsibilities or tasks.

 

Can only techies become product managers?

Is it possible to become a successful product manager without having any technical skills? Can you build a successful career in product management without knowing how to code? If you ask 100 product managers this question, you will get as many answers. Some will say yes, some will say no and some will say that it depends on the type of company and product you are working on.

It is a myth that only techies can be product managers. Here is our take on it. It is true that we need a basic understanding of technology to be able to talk to engineers and understand their problems better. But this does not mean that we need to be techies ourselves! In fact, I think it is better if we are not because then we can focus on the customer needs instead of worrying about the technical details.

In today’s fast-paced world, companies need people who can adapt quickly, learn new technologies and implement them into their products. As a result, there are many different types of product managers: from those who love coding to those who hate it; from those who have technical background to those who don’t have any technical skills at all.

Many people think that only techies can do this job and they are wrong. In fact, product managers come from many different backgrounds such as marketing, sales and even finance. While it’s true that most PMs have technical backgrounds, this is not a necessity for the job.


Also Read

Production and Operations Management

MiM Now or MBA Later – Which One is Better?

Masters of Science in Product Management | Carnegie Mellon University



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