For your company to succeed, you need to produce great products. And to produce great products, you need great product managers.
Before we start, let’s clear up the main terms.
What is Project Management?
A project refers to a task aimed at achieving a specific goal or a set of objectives. Since projects are multifaceted activities involving so many moving parts, a control system must be in place to get the tasks. This system of managing projects is called project management. And the person in charge of it is a project manager.
What is Product Management?
As you may know, a product is a perceivable object that must be obtained at the end of any creative process. So, product management is a management system to control the creative process from the inception phase to sales. And this process is curated by a product manager.
Philosophy behind Product Management
Often referred to as mini-CEO of a product, product managers do not merely supervise the product development process, but ultimately own every stage of a product’s lifecycle. From product ideation to product retirement, the guiding hand of a product manager is always there. Eschewing traditional, narrow organizational roles and responsibilities, they act as entrepreneurs, strategists, team leaders, and customer advocates. They envision, define, and craft the customer experience. What’s more, product managers influence decisions not just about what gets built, but how it gets built.
Product managers’ responsibilities are varied, and their focus is broad. They are concerned with the big picture. They are responsible for defining product vision, which doesn’t just mean how the product will look, what their price point will be, or how long it will be in use. It means all of these things, but much more. Product managers analyze customer and market trends to reveal new opportunities to satisfy customer needs. They provide insights unique offerings your organization can bring to market. And to maximize profitability, they envision the complete lifecycle and performance of a product from conception to withdrawal.
Capabilities of a Product Manager
As their role reaches into all areas of the organization, product managers wear many hats. To be an effective mini-CEO of a product, they must become experts in every factor that might impact its success. They must act as a central hub for all information about a product. They must communicate with and influence both internal and external stakeholders. Product managers therefore play a major role in an organization’s long-term vision and are responsible for setting its product strategy. They focus on broad, strategic business goals and track overall business and product performance. They define the objectives that lead to product creation.
Product managers define the product vision. Product managers work with the broader team of stakeholders to develop effective project strategies. This means coordinating with departments throughout the organization to ensure the delivered product aligns with the product vision.
In general, product managers are paid more than, say, project managers due to the sheer volume of duties they perform. Product managers’ average payroll is around $114, 513 annually. But you should know that figures vary based on the country, experience level, and the company’s financial capabilities.
Let’s now review product manager key responsibilities in more detail.
Key Responsibilities and Skills
As we’ve noted earlier, product managers serve as liaisons between the product team and the rest of the company. Therefore, the product manager’s responsibilities normally include market research, idea creation, creating and maintaining a product roadmap, developing strategies, setting product visions, and communicating within teams and users. You should note that there also may be an overlap between product and project manager responsibilities. Among these overlapping aspects are time, budget, team management, and customer relation.
In today’s digital world, an effective product manager is responsible for understanding the needs of the end user and working closer with digital solution architects and IT. This helps a product manager see how technology can enhance the user experience, drive down operational cost, improve overall operational efficiency, create new business models, and deliver superior customer experience.
For example, coupler.io can boast of having 2 project managers working side by side. On one hand, there is a product manager with experience in software development, so he can always advise other team members how to implement this or that task better, how to ensure product’s scalability accounting for the growing user base and their needs. On the other hand, there is another product manager focused on building processes, ensuring all deadlines are met and well-communicated to other departments in the company. This way, the team managed to reach maximum efficiency by allocating professionals to do the parts of the job they can do and know best.
Modern Day Roles and Responsibilities of a Product Manager
Modern product managers take products through all phases of the development lifecycle with the goal of making things easier and faster to use. Product managers are also heavily involved in the product roadmap, investing a lot of time in user needs by successfully communicating them to business owners and key stakeholders. So, it goes without saying that a product manager position requires perfect leadership skills, top-notch organizational skills, and outstanding research skills.
To become a successful leader, a product manager should possess a strong background in working in an agile work environment and possess relevant experience with multidisciplinary teams, developers, testers, designers, project managers, etc. Product managers are also expected to put a strong focus on user research and marketing expertise. They also should demonstrate the ability to use data to be able to make informed decisions through descriptive and prescriptive analytics. The understanding of best practice and UX principles are also a must-have skill a product manager should have to succeed at work.
Other Important Skills of a Great Product Manager
What is expected of a great product manager?
An Effective team player
A great product manager is always there to help and instruct their team members. Not only do they teach, but also mentor and show by their example how to boost the entire team effectiveness and performance.
Capability to Improvise
What’s more, there is no such thing as stagnation or inertia for a great product manager. They are in constant search of new methods, channels, techniques, and strategies that can help them reach new heights.
Great product managers are the most important drivers of innovation and change within their companies. They research the market, employ new strategic tools, and are the first to tap into technological advancements.
Much has been already said about product managers’ ability to allocate and use time in the most efficient manner possible. A great product manager not only knows how to get the most out of each minute of the product development process, but also knows how to use downtime efficiently. They can plan for the next project and create mock sprints for new features of their product, create wireframes for features, and start getting feedback from their customers.
Man Management Capabilities
Though it may sound surprising, a great product manager should be capable of ‘filtering’ their colleagues’ requests and ideas and knows when exactly to say ‘no.’ Being able to reject someone’s ideas is by no means should be a killer of initiative in the workplace. A great product manager always welcomes fresh insights and ideas, but when it comes to prioritizing and triage, they should be able to sift through information and inbound propositions in a knowledgeable and tactful manner. Ultimately, it’s a product manager who finalizes decisions, and they are not obliged to rely on consensus opinion or majority vote.
Effective Decision Making
Effective team decision-making process is also totally contingent on a product manager’s expertise and ability to identify all subtle changes that occur within their teams. They should invest enough time in structuring their teams and be heavily involved in the employee onboarding process. They have mastered the art of strategic prioritizing and risk assessment.
A great product manager always knows how to rank customer issues, should they arise, and evaluate risks posed to other parts of their product or company. Great product managers quickly hit on the right solutions to team-based issues and incorrect hiring decisions. They also have a great understanding of what development skills and shared values their employees require to be more productive and successful in the workplace.
Product managers are the guiding hand throughout a product’s life. They will touch every aspect of a product’s development and delivery. And they must be conversant with every stage of that process. They will influence everything from design and engineering to advertising, fulfillment, and finance. The effective product manager is expected to lead multidisciplinary teams, supporting and continuously improving products of significant scale and complexity. Therefore, it’s critical for the success of any company that their product managers be not only well qualified, experienced, and skilled, but also conversant with effective leadership styles and industrial-organizational psychology. Hopefully, today’s guide will help you master the art of effective product management and become a top specialist in your field.
Project Management Level 2 Certificate for Manager
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