What is Product Management & What does a Product Manager do?
With the growth of tech companies and non-tech companies foraying into digital space, (Digital) Product Management has evolved as a separate function.
Furthermore, in a world, where a user has tremendous choices, has low switching cost and is influenced from the social network (through rating, reviews, and recommendations); making a great product matters more than ever. Therefore, that’s the key function of Product Management.
So, what does a Product Manager do?
In simple terms, they are the critical link between Business, Design, and Engineering.
The above Venn diagram might not provide an accurate illustration of the scope of Product Management. You can refer to the following illustration where I’ve tried to capture the scope (mind it this is Non-Exhaustive).
Product Management Scope
Product Management Focus Area
At a high level, we can classify the focus areas of product managers into 3 types as shown below.
Although the responsibilities of a Product Manager has wide variations in various companies, we can still summarize the primary role of a PM as follows:
1. Identifying Profitable Opportunities — by understanding the market, overseeing the products already in the market and researching into user’s needs.
2. Defining the Product — deciding which features to be present in what releases based on market, target users, and impact of each features on different user groups.
3. Guiding the development — by writing requirements, user stories and prioritizing features based on effort and impact.
4. Scaling the product — defining Go to Market Strategies, understanding the user interactions, experimenting and focusing on what’s working and leaving out what’s not, deriving and using market insights
5. Product Strategy — Managing road-map as a function of the market, keep product goals aligned with company’s goals.
The above illustrations explain the core skills and roles of a Product Manager and the immediate function that each of the roles touches. With a fair idea of what a PM does, let’s move on to the next chapter where we’ll understand how to develop a thorough market understanding.
What are the skills required to be a successful Product Manager?
A product manager is a cross-functional leader who is involved in all aspects of the product — from operations and analytics, engineering and design, to legal and other departments of the company.
There are various Hard & Soft skills required to be successful at the role of a Product Manager.
The most important hard skills you need as a PM are:
User experience design Understanding: It is necessary for a Product Manager to visualise product workflows and views and easily create mock-ups that can be used as a base of your solution.
Technology Understanding: Not only Technology understanding helps you leverage technology to solve problems, it also allows you to closely understand issues your dev team might be struggling with.
Data understanding: You need to create a data driven culture where each product decision is driven by thorough analysis of data and validate any instincts that the team might have.
Business sense: You need to decide where to invest your team’s time and resources and accordingly build a product roadmap that leads to success and profitability.
List of Soft Skills –
User Empathy: Nothing is more important than understanding what your user wants, what are they struggling with and what would work with them.
Leading without authority: A Product Manager is not a manager but a team member who has to coordinate with so many different stake-holders. In order to do so, you need to build credibility to earn the respect and confidence of the internal stakeholders, without being domineering.
Communicating effectively: Clarity of thought and structuring them enables you to communicate with different stakeholders & users. You should be very clear in communicating the requirements to dev and product team.
Negotiating: Balancing the needs of the product with the schedules and priorities of different teams requires carefully honed negotiation skills.
Pushing back requirements: Developing a product means prioritising certain ideas and tasks above others — this means saying no to a lot of good ideas that may not fit into your vision.
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