Product Manager: A Detailed Role Description And Industry Best Practices

Introduction 

We all know that a Product Manager is one of the well-reputed, in-demand, and high-paying jobs in today’s world. However, the Product Manager’s detailed role descriptions are not always well-defined despite being a vital position in a company. Many of us know basic details, such as Product Manager salary range, skills, etc., but are unaware of real-life work experience. Are you curious about it? This article will help you understand the day-to-day activities in the life of a Product Manager. 

What Is Product Management? 

Product Management is a business process that aims to build a technically feasible product to cater to customer problems. It focuses on converting a raw idea into a product that satisfies customer needs and thereby drives business growth. 

Who Is A Product Manager, and What Do They Do? 

The classic explanation of “who a Product Manager is” is often given by a Venn Diagram that represents a Product Manager at the interception of three elements: User experience, Business, and technology. But have you wondered what that means? Well, here is the answer. 

Product Managers, popularly known as the “mini-CEOs of a product,” are the ones who are responsible for the success of a product end-to-end. They lay down a strategic roadmap for the product. They oversee every stage of a product lifecycle and hence play multiple roles, such as entrepreneurs, strategists, team leaders, and customer advocates. They envision, define and craft customer experience to turn the vision into a reality. Product Managers work toward creating an optimum combination of customer needs, business goals, and technology to ship a quality product to the user. 

Role Of A Product Manager

A Product Manager’s role can be broadly broken down into different categories, which are as follows: 

Understanding the Market and Users 

The product is ultimately designed for the users, and hence it is most important to understand their needs. There are multiple ways to do it, such as surveys, interviews, on-site visits, and so on. At the same time, a solid understanding of the market and competitive analysis is equally important to differentiate our product from that of our competitors, which might give us the upper hand in becoming the user’s choice. 

Build a Business Strategy 

Achieving the company’s goals and catering to user needs must go hand-in-hand to result in a successful product. Thus they must understand the company’s business model and build a strong and efficient business strategy that meets both customer needs and the company’s business model. 

Design the User Experience 

This is the most exciting and important role of a Product Manager. Once the problem is identified after considering the market trends, user needs, and business model, the real challenge is creating a solution. Given below are the various steps involved in the product design phase  

  • Draft a product vision and strategy that states what we want to achieve 
  • Define a user flow as to how to solve the problem by discussing it with the engineering team. Create a blueprint of the whole process 
  • Build a prototype and let users experience it  
  • Gather feedback from the users and rework it until the product is complete. 

Build the Technical Product 

The next step is to convert the prototype into an actual product that you had envisioned. In this stage, they have to coordinate with every team involved and make sure that they follow the vision. Ensure that the engineering team works in line with the blueprint.  

Build the Go-to-Market Strategy 

Building a product is not the end of it. The next step is to establish your product in the market. It involves two things which are identifying the attractiveness and uniqueness of your product and communicating it effectively to the users.  

A Product Manager has to coordinate with the sales and marketing departments to build strategy. 

Ensure Product Delivery 

Shipping the product on time is one of the key responsibilities of a Product Manager. There are various processes involved even after the final product is built, such as test checking, documenting, packing, and so on. Thus they must plan things accordingly, so that product delivery is not delayed.

Drive and Sustain Product Growth 

In today’s competitive world, products keep evolving on a daily basis. Thus, to sustain the product and ensure growth, they must keep on upgrading the product as per the user requirements and feedback. They must continuously monitor product analytics and try to improve wherever possible. 

The Key Responsibilities Of Product Managers 

 Since the role of a Product Manager is dynamic, their responsibilities too shall vary according to the company and the product on which they work. They are expected to plan and execute a product throughout its lifecycle. Following are some key responsibilities that will give you a detailed insight into their day-to-day activities. 

  • Define the product vision, including but not limited to product outline, price determination, market base, demand, and so on. Analyze market trends, and customer needs to capture new opportunities that the company can work on. 
  • Draft a proper product roadmap that envisions the product lifecycle, its performance, and potential contribution to the company’s profitability from inception to disposal. 
  • Lead the cross-functional team and serve as a central hub for all information relating to the product. 
  • Communicate and influence both external and internal stakeholders.  
  • Gather information from various teams and properly summarize it. They must ensure that the right information is given to the right people at the right time. 
  • Monitor the product development process and keep track of overall business and product performance. 
  • Coordinate with departments throughout the organization and ensure that the product aligns with the vision. 
  • Keep track of your competitors as it is the best source of information to help you understand customer requirements in detail. 

Are Product Managers Different From Product Owners? 

Product owner vs. Product Manager! Who ranks higher? What is the difference between them? Can one function without another? These are some of the classic questions in the industry. To get clarity on this, let’s first understand who is the product owner.  

Most of us misinterpret the term “Product Owner” as a product or company owner. “Scrum Framework” by Agile defines a product owner as the one responsible for maximizing the value of a product by managing the product backlog. Product owners focus on identifying potential customer problems that the development team can work on to create a solution. They act as a bridge between the customer and the development team. They constantly look for actionable tasks like bug fixes, new features, upgradation of existing features, etc. Their role revolves around customer needs.

On the other hand, the role of a Product Manager is much wider and focuses on the big picture of the product. They define the product’s why, what, when, and how throughout its lifecycle. They collaborate with different teams of the organization to successfully launch the product. The major differences between the two are summarized as follows: 

 

Product Owner  Product Manager 
Short-term focus  Long-term focus 
Narrow role  Wider role 
Detail-oriented approach  Strategic approach 
Responsible for maximizing the value of a product   Responsible for the overall success of the product 
Advocate customer needs  Evaluate customer needs in terms of business goals and viability 
Develop and maintain a product backlog  Develop and execute the product roadmap

 Industry Best Practices of Product Manager 

Let’s go through some of the industry best practices that one must follow to become a successful Product Manager! 

Listen To Your Customers 

 This is one of a Product Manager’s basic yet most important requirements. Focusing on the data is good, but you can understand the problem only if you talk to a customer. You must remember that “Users are not numbers, and hence making decisions based purely on data can cost you a lot. Listening helps you understand the customer’s problems failing which we end up building solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist, ultimately wasting time and effort.  

Merge Company Goals and Customer Needs 

Innovation has no limits, and neither do the customers’ needs. There might be plenty of opportunities available, but the trick to being a great Product Manager is to identify the potential customer need that aligns with your company goals. Understand your company’s yardstick for the measurement of success. Check whether the product is technically feasible and supports the company’s growth.  

Effectively Communicate 

Product management is a cross-functional process; hence, communication plays an important role in a product’s success. During the planning phase, meeting with all the stakeholders and teams is recommended to understand their requirements and develop a suitable roadmap accordingly. You must monitor every product lifecycle stage and keep all parties updated.  

Prioritize Ruthlessly 

Irrespective of the size of the organization or the project, you will always face a lack of funds and resources. Sometimes, we may have many features to work on, but the problem is when we have to restrict ourselves due to a lack of funds. This might lead to a conflict of interest between teams. Thus it is important to prioritize your tasks and ideas and align them with the overall objective of delivering an effective and efficient product.  

Empower Team Play 

With the enormous roles and responsibilities that you already have, a Product Manager can’t take every single decision. Thus you must guide and train your peers to enable them to make decisions at smaller levels themselves. Team play is vital as product management is a process that goes through multiple departments. 

Conclusion 

Life as a Product Manager can be extremely tedious at times. However, understanding the role in detail prepares you for the challenges you might face in your career as a Product Manager. If you’re interested in gaining more insight into product management from a career perspective, then the UNext Jigsaw’s PG Certificate Program in Product Management is highly recommended. On-hand learning experience via industry leaders and job guarantee features is on the table. 

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