What is a Product Manager?
The Product Manager, also known as PM, has to be efficient to define the consumer needs and business objectives and translates them into viable, innovative products. The PM is likewise responsible for guiding the success of a product and leading the cross-functional team that is responsible for improving it.
The role each Product Manager plays depends on various dynamics, such as the company size and type, product type and stage, as well as the culture of the company. All of these examples dictate the role and influence of the product manager.
Based on these dynamics, the Product Manager has some responsibilities for the improvement of the company’s product and in this role tasks may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. Check out the Product Manager’s most important responsibilities:
- Must manage the whole product’s process (from concept to design, sample production, testing, forecast, cost, mass production, promotion, support, and finally the product’s end of life);
- To deliver the operating plan (achievement of growth objectives including market share, revenue, profit and return on investment for all categories of business and key customers);
- Must build up, implement and manage the marketing plan activities such as research, strategic plan, and implementation;
Product Manager’s characteristics
The Product Manager is the central role within your company for much of the critical information on your products and market research. To have any success, the PM will need to continually collect and analyze data and business intelligence from all of these sources, as well as your internal sources and use this data to inform on the evolution of your product roadmaps.
Given you will need to interact with a broad range of stakeholders and departments to ensure your products’ success, there are several key skills that a product manager has to have. These skills include:
- Being transparent: A product manager will have to explain to all his project stakeholders his choices for one option rather than another. It is appropriate that the PM has to be clear and open with them about why and how he is making decisions;
- Knowing how to prioritize things: Regardless of the size or budget of the business, you will always have problems with some form of resources to develop your product. So you must continually prioritize and evaluate your company’s limited resources and demands from various stakeholders’ perspectives;
- Being understanding: One of the most common aspects of being a Product Manager is explaining the “why” to your stakeholders; it’s mandatory for PMs to prove their choices using some data, which brings the information more credibility;
- Know how to say “No”: The key will be in your ability to articulate why the PM cannot accommodate some stakeholder’s request because those requests will undermine your strategic objectives for the product. Again, the more strategic and backed by evidence you are, the more your constituents are likely to understand when you need to say no.
The role in a Company
Its common to find three relevant roles within the structure of a company: the Business Analyst, the Product Owner, and the Product Manager. The BA and the PO perform very similar roles in software development. Both have the same objective: to help the team make software that meets the objectives of the owner while solving the problems and needs of its users. In some organizations the BA may turn out to be focused exclusively on business, that is, in understanding only what the business objectives are, leaving aside the problems and needs of users.
In addition, the Product Manager is responsible for developing, communicating and executing product vision and strategy, and also responsible for prioritization and specification. It may make sense for some companies to have BAs and PMs, or POs and PMs, or even BAs, POs, and PMs. Yet, there cannot be companies without someone working as PM, developing, communicating and executing the vision and strategy of the product.
Is there any difference between the PO and PM?
Although they have distinct focuses they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. In short: you can’t focus on improving the process of software development without thinking of improving the software that is being built. Likewise, it is not possible to think of improving the software without investing in improving the process of software development.
Core Competencies of a PM in a Company
There are core competencies that every PM must have and most are developed through experience, good role models, and mentoring. Some examples of these competencies include:
- Conducting customer interviews and user testing
- Running design sprints
- Feature prioritization and roadmap planning
- The art of resource allocation
- Performing market assessments
- Translating business-to-technical requirements, and vice versa
- Pricing and revenue modeling
- Defining and tracking success metrics