Whether you are already working as a product manager, thinking about a job in product management, or just work with product managers, one thing is certain: you will probably hear a different definition of what a product manager is and does from each person you ask.
There is a lot of confusion about what a product manager does on a day-to-day basis. Is the product manager the “CEO of the product” (which is a broad and misunderstood definition), the person who manages the product (a much narrower view of product management), or both?
In fact, the main reason for these different definitions is that a product manager’s role may vary based on company, industry, and a number of other factors. Significant differences exist between the responsibilities of a product manager and the way they do business in a large enterprise, and what a product manager needs to do when working in a start-up setting.
After experiencing working in both environments along side dozens of product managers for more than 10 years, I thought perhaps we should stop trying to create a standard definition of the product manager’s role and instead spell out the various roles a product manager must often play in a dynamic environment. The following items are compiled from notes I’ve take over my time both working as a product manager and interacting with other product managers.
Who is the product manager and what do they do?
Perhaps we should stop making the definition of the product manager and write down the roles that this person should undertake in the company step by step. The following items are composed of notes on paper, notebooks, and computers I took after long thoughts.
They know the customer. They know the problems of existing customers and try to identify the problems of prospective customers.
They are very capable of telling stories. When presenting the product, they focus less on specific features and functionality and instead tell a story about how their product meets the needs of customers and helps them be successful. They understand how to tailor their story to make it easy for different types of customers to relate.
They keep in touch with the media. As part of this process, they again use stories and do not emphasize on the technical features of the product.
They find the first beta customers, figuring out which people will invest the necessary time and resources, will actively use the product, and will provide thoughtful and valuable feedback.
They able to engage with happy customers who have been using the product and get them to agree to spend time providing information and feedback for use in a case study.
They prepare the case study, write the text, create the story, publish it on the web site and also find other channels for distributing the study.
They create the rules of drip marketing (step-by-step marketing). They train potential customers who leave their e-mail addresses according to the prescribed criteria.
They have basic web page preparation skills.
They determine the price or the price range of the product, and while doing that, they also research how similar products are priced. They know that low price does not always bring more sales. If necessary, they settle the price according to the customer.
If the products doesn’t meet expectations and achieve the goals that have been, they must be prepared for pivoting the structure.
They have deep knowledge of design and user experience, but are not overly obsessed with this. They work in harmony with the designer team.
They are able to communicate what they want to the design team in detail. If necessary, they make basic drawings in advance and prepare an analysis document.
They know which features to use and when. They get rid of the unnecessary parts. They know how to organize features, hide those that do not need to be visible, and when to remove them.
They work like an orchestra conductor, encouraging active involvement of other team members in the product development process.
They balance the requests and wishes of each of these groups, and ensure that all groups are synchronized so as to increase sales and complement the product vision.
They know their competitors’ products almost as well as they know their own product.
They know their opponents. They check the market. They are always up to date. They follow them through all kinds of channels (social media, web, blog). They do not create financial, technological and administrative excuses. They first focus on their product. They use their time efficiently. They deal with events, not people.
They focus not only on the product itself, but on the income and the customer as well. How many technical features the product has is of secondary importance.
They utilize qualitative and quantitative values to improve the product. They know how to evolve the product using numbers, instincts and feedbacks.
They make their own reports on time and share them with both top and side units. They ensure that the product development process is transparent throughout the entire organization.
They are open to communicating with their teammates even when the ideas from the team seem to be pointless. They do not care how valid the suggestions are, but it’s important to keep them flowing.
They incorporate teammates into the process, delegate jobs when necessary, and ensure output is 10x. They do not catch up on everything.
They know how much time and money it will take to develop a particular feature. They follow the product roadmap and the time schedule weekly.
They solicity everyone’s input before turning a thought into the product. They ensure that the work being done is questioned by the teams working on different aspects.
They do their job fondly and stress-free. They aren’t nervous, they take the tension out of their environment.They take care of the details, but do not get lost in them.In this way they can empathize with their teammates and establish a stronger basis for communication.
They avoid short term cause-and-effect relationships by establishing long-term communication with both the team and the customers.
They get involved in the deployment process of the product. They are directly involved with the client.
They coordinate all the operations that need to be done before releasing the new version.
They know and follow every customer complaint. They keep track of each complaint, how many customers have made the same complaint, and other related information. They develop the product according to these complaints.
They market the product. They train the company. They listen to feedback from marketing teams.
They’re focused. Instead of trying to solve all the problems of the customers immediately, they prioritize issues and schedule them and as part of the overall development plan.
They know well every point of the product. They master their subject like college instructors.
They can see the big picture about the product. They design what every attribute they add to the product will provide to their customers. They progress strategically.
They regularly train the sales team. In order to increase the sales, they regulate the product in accordance with the sales team, and organize the sales team according to the product. They play an active role in sales strategies.
They find the customers who are actively using a new feature of the product, listen to them, get feedback and share it with the team.
They share positive feedback from other satisfied customers with the entire team, provide confidence, create happiness :)
They explore potential partnerships. They figure out with whom they will collaborate to spread the product on the target geographical area, and they accomplish it.
They prepare product training documents and videos. If they are working with a third-party company for this process, they will be involved in the process with them. (note to myself: I prepared documents close to 200 pages in the last year)
They are aware of technological developments and work with the developer team to reflect them in the product at certain points.
They have courage.
After writing all these items, we can easily make the following conclusion:
The product manager is never the person who gets the ideas from inside and outside the company and selects the best among them and then gives the job to the development team and makes sure it gets done.
On the contrary, the product manager is the person that has countless abilities like rapid development, team play, customer recognition, increasing the sales, user experience enhancement.
In order to accomplish this, a product manager must be a person who can listen, decide, make clear communication, and overcome his or her ego.
In short, a good product manager always wins.
If you have any ideas you’d would like to add or feel I’ve missed, let me know.