What is a Product Manager?

Product managers are generally responsible for directing and orchestrating all activities associated with a product’s business, across the life cycle. There may be variations depending on industry or sector, technical orientation of the firm, or business model. However, there is a portfolio of skills and capabilities that are needed for any product manager to be successful. In the ideal role, the product manager is an appointed, proactive, “mini-business” owner and should be able to orchestrate and integrate the work of people in various functions on behalf of the product’s business. Product managers should be evaluated based on results obtained, including at a minimum: revenue, gross-margin, market share, and customer satisfaction.

What is Product Management

Product Management is the business management of products and portfolios, across their life cycles. Product management is, at its core, a model for a business organization. This model includes discovering, innovating, strategizing, experimenting, planning, developing, introducing, managing, and marketing products . . . and doing it over and over, as fast as your markets are moving.

What Does a Product Manager Do

Product managers are often “spinning plates”… meaning they have many tasks and responsibilities that must be done simultaneously. Some of the key things that Product Managers do include:

  • Keeping in touch with the market through research and analysis
  • Spending time communicating with customers to better understand their goals and strategies
  • Observing customers actually using products to understand the user experience
  • Interacting with key internal partners such as engineering and sales
  • Removing roadblocks as needed to continue the momentum of initiatives
  • Socializing product vision and roadmaps to internal stakeholders
  • Completing needed analysis and documentation for funding approvals

How Product Managers Fit Within an Organization

Product managers generally sit as a horizontal partner and influencer across multiple vertical business stakeholders, including engineering, sales, marketing, operations and finance. Product managers are, in essence, the hub of the product management wheel, with all other key stakeholders of the product management ecosystem. That ecosystem includes key stakeholders being spokes of the wheel. Product managers must be adept at navigating multiple stakeholders and leading them on the product’s strategic path.

Product Manager Role

Some of the key characteristics required for being a Product Manager include: 1. Big picture strategic thinker – A person who can see how the organization operates and interoperates, and how the firm meets the needs of its customers, while considering the competitive posture of the company and its products. 2. An individual who self-initiates. 3. Leadership – A person who both collaborates, influences, and drives others in a purposeful strategic direction. 4. Financial acumen – a person who knows how the numbers work and can get others into the numbers game. 5. Organizational instinct – a valuable skill to network, negotiate, and get things done.

Tips & Resources for Product Managers

Being a great Product Manager requires continuous education. There are always new things to learn to become a better Product Manager. Here are some tools to help growing:

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