Product Roles: The Role of a Product Manager

The Product Roles series focuses on the work each Product role can play in an organization. Please keep in mind, product team’s responsibilities can be highly varied. Some organizations have parsed these job functions to other roles, sometimes across departments. The success of that parsing will vary from company to company. In this series, we will focus on what we feel the roles entail in a “typical” product organization.

In this second post of the series, We are going to dive into the Product Management role a bit more. This description is one of the best over arching summaries we can offer. We will try to talk about day-to-day tasks and what it means to “Be the CEO of your Product.” Some aspect of Product Management include Product Marketing, Product Strategy, or the delineation Agile sometimes put on roles (Product Owner, Business Analyst, etc.). 

From our first post in the series:

Starting with Product Managers – they fundamentally look after individual products/services: shepherding the short-term development efforts and long-term strategy. They work to keep a 3-12 month roadmap that’s coherent. There are manymanymany resources out there that describe the intricacies of this role. At the end of the day, you want to empower these people to own the vision, execution, and support of a product/service vertical. You want to ensure they are accountable for the results the product is delivering.

At the core, The product manager is the person responsible for doing the market research, evaluating and prioritizing the features that will drive the largest benefit for the customer and then validating that feature selection hypothesis (without feedback it is important to know you only have a hypothesis on what will drive the most value). The validation process happens in lots of ways: some build an MVP, some build out the feature in it’s entirety and some merely shop ideas without dev effort at all.

A typical job description for a Product Manager often looks like this (with some added company specific, cultural fit type requirements):

  • Managing the product life cycle from start to end (strategic planning to tactical activities)
  • Specifying market requirements for current and future products by conducting market research
  • Delivering value by working with cross-functional teams (primarily Development/Engineering, and Marketing Communications) to clarify market requirements, product contract, and positioning.
  • Developing and implementing a company-wide go-to-market plan (often times called a roadmap), working with all departments to execute.

These four things may sound easy, but if done well, they are incredibly time consuming and often require heavy context switching. Product Management is an exciting and challenging role; one which can afford you lots of freedom and responsibility. Get it right, and you’re off to the races. Get it wrong and the organization will languish and sputter to see any real success.


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