What does a Product Manager do?
Who is a Product Manager? You might be asking yourself if a product manager is the same as a project manager? You could even say that the product manager position was unheard of less than 20 years ago. Different organizations find themselves having different ways of interpreting the functions and skills required for the role. Is the product manager the CEO of the product?
The role of a product manager is the middle-person between business and technology in a company. A product manager can help identify what high-quality product to make, ensure that the product gets created through teamwork, and present the report on the product’s performance in the market.
What skills do you need to become a Product Manager?
- Strategic thinking: As a product manager, you’re responsible for finding and prioritizing potential ideas and what matters most to achieve strategic goals. It is your responsibility to define a company’s vision and work towards it in a realistic and achievable manner. You own the roadmap!
- Be an excellent communicator: Effective communication is what holds a team and an organization together. A product manager must possess good communication and interpersonal skills as the voice for both the product and the customers.
- Be an amazing storyteller: The storytelling skill is gold in product management. This requires you to have great knowledge of your audience in order to tell a great story at any point of your product lifecycle. Storytelling helps the user understand the product better and how it solves their problem.
- Be detail-oriented: Having a good eye for details is important in delivering high-quality results. It means that you’re able to spot issues and mistakes early on in the product development process, giving you ample time to rectify them before the launch.
- Have empathy: As a product manager, you should know how to effectively engage with your customers and how to turn their feelings into what they need. Empathy is the skill of being able to feel what your target customer feels and foreseeing how they’ll react to your product.
- Possess leadership and collaborative skills: A great product manager that develops a successful product is the leader of a great team that aligns and works towards common goals. Lead without formal authority but rather with conviction and compassion instead. On the other hand, lead your team to collaborate with other teams in a harmonious environment.
What are the responsibilities of a product manager?
- Defining the product’s vision and goals and getting stakeholders on board with them.
- Finding multiple channels to continually engage with customers.
- To collaborate with engineers and designers to solve problems.
- Responsible for conducting research relevant to the product.
- Responsible for monitoring, implementing marketing, and developing competitive analyses.
- Understanding and representing customer needs.
- Defining goals and setting targets that lead the team towards the direction of success.
- Responsible for analyzing internal and external data and statistics to identify gaps in the market and available opportunities.
- Developing and communicating a long-term product roadmap.
- Creating and maintaining profit, loss, and product performance.
A day in the life of a Product Manager.
- Discovering: As a product manager, you identify critical problems and conclude which of them can be solved. You get to utilize relevant data by employing the right analytical tools and supplementing them with user feedback. This is the time of the product lifecycle when you should spend most of your time with customers.
- Planning: This is the phase where the product manager prioritizes the right products to pursue. Here you get to present your discovered findings and suggestions for the roadmap to stakeholders through many meetings.
- Executing: Here you’re expected to work closely with the development and design functions of the product. You and your team also get to improve your product as much as you feel confident with it.
Career prospects and job outlook for product managers.
There are six basic roles of a product manager that you might find yourself in throughout your product management career.
- Associate Product Manager: This is an entry-level role where you get to demonstrate your understanding of product management and a passion for the customer’s interest.
- Product Manager: This role requires experience not necessarily in product management but in communication, leadership, and strategy.
- Senior Product Manager. In this role, you need to have had some experience in product management. You’ll need to demonstrate your ability to think independently, be accountable, be a team leader, and make data-driven decisions.
- Director of Product: This is a director-level role where you will have to demonstrate your leadership skills and your ability to create and trust a team. Your focus here will be to effectively run and improve product development processes.
- VP of Product: This is a high-level support role where you’re less involved in hands-on activities and more into budgeting and strategically aligning product decisions with business objectives.
- Chief Product Officer: This is a big role that reports to the CEO and oversees setting long-term goals and the bigger picture for product strategy.
Top 5 product management books you MUST read!
- Inspired: How to create products customers love by Marty Cagan. This one’s a rather older book but some things never change much, do they now? Especially when you have digital product development examples from some global corporations like Google, Netflix, Apple, and the BBC.
- Cracking the PM Interview by Gayle McDowell. This book right here will teach you everything you need to know about the role of a Product Manager and how to land it in startups or large tech companies. It teaches you from the experience you need to the technical questions to expect in an interview.
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal. This book introduces you as the product manager to the Hook Model which helps you encourage customer behaviour without aggressive marketing campaigns. It explains how to make products that develop into your customer’s habits with real-world examples from tech companies like Instagram and Pinterest.
- Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan. This book highlights how easy it is to misinterpret data in product management with wit and accessibility. The writer explains key statistical concepts that will give you several examples of how you can utilize data to uncover what’s hidden beneath the numbers.
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Written by one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, it analyzes the problems business leaders face every day running their businesses. It provides insights on the developing, buying, or even selling of tech companies.
Best online platforms for product management courses
For you to move from an entry-level associate product manager up the ladder to a chief product officer, you have to expand your mind. And where better than the readily available online platforms where you learn from the comfort of your home office and experienced experts themselves. Below are some of the best online courses for you to learn product management:
- The Complete Product Management Course: https://www.udemy.com/share/101Xro/
- Project Management Principles and Practices Specialization: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/project-management
- Become a Growth Product Manager: https://www.udacity.com/course/growth-product-manager-nanodegree–nd037
- Becoming a Product Manager: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/becoming-a-product-manager
- Fundamentals of Product Management Skillshare: https://skl.sh/3fOI9uq
- The Basics of Product Management: How to Think About Products Skillshare: https://skl.sh/3ukcbKy
Project Manager roles have increasingly become popular over the recent years, with a relatively high salary, and space for growth and experience.
We have covered the most basic things you need to know about a project manager role, which seems to be challenging yet, exciting at the same time. The best way to approach a role as a product manager is by asking yourself if you’re passionate enough about customer needs and are willing to spend the rest of your product management career catering to their needs.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you.