A product manager is a person who links the business, technology and the end user to the product. The basic role of the product manager is to discover and create a product that is usable, feasible and valuable. While on the surface, this all seems very simple, product management is very broad and it needs the manager to have passion, expertise and experience into what the end user needs, the business value of the product and most importantly how to develop the product, this being the technological portion of the product manager’s responsibilities.
Specific Roles and Responsibilities of a Product Manager
1. Discovery – Perhaps another word for this would be vision, but this starts with seeing a gap and having an idea as to how to fill that gap. The product manager has to thoroughly research and talk to his target customers to know how that problem they are having can be solved. The role of a product manager is all about knowing what is needed and finding ways to provide it.
2. Defining the Product Strategy – Once the product manager has the product idea in mind, his/her job is to sell the idea to the development team. This is done by showing them the long term strategy of that product and describe it in detail. This strategy doubles up as the plan that will help the technological team to implement it.
3. Making Official Documents – It is the responsibility of the product manager to make and deliver two key strategic documents . The market requirement document (MRD) is essentially the voice of the end user, while a product requirement document (PRD) defines the priorities of the product. Similar to the product strategy, these documents help outline the market need and product plan to help meet that need. Specificity helps here makes the product management process as smooth as possible later on.
4. Tactical Duties – A product manager hast to work closely with the Q/A and development team and know what’s required, what are the priorities, time limit and terms of the engineers.
5. Inside Partnerships – While the product manager is in charge of the product, he/she can’t make it alone. Therefore, the product manager must collaborate and manage the engineering, sales and marketing and design teams. Inter-departmental communication is key here.
6. External Partnerships – Most software companies, especially startups, must partner at a certain point on at least some aspects of their product. Whether this is simply in an advisory role, or a full-fledged development partnership, a product manager must be willing to work with other suppliers in order to maximize their product potential and reach as wide a range of potential customer as possible.
7. Competition Analysis – This is of course a key function of the product manager. There is almost always some competing product to yours within the same market, whether you came into an already developed market, or led the way with an entirely innovative idea and then others followed you. Competition is just a fact of life in the product world. So the product manager must conduct a detailed competition analysis, taking into account various elements including product features, deliverability, marketing strategy and pricing.
8. Customer Demos – So you’re product is now out there, and more companies are expressing interest. It’s time for the product manager to carry out demonstrations to potential customers (as well as to demo new features to existing customers). It’s up to the product manager to convince people to become users, as well as to track their feedback through various channels like face-to-face, social media, telephone and emails.
9. Upgrades and Modifications – The world is always evolving, and product adaptation and upgrading is a sign of a healthy and desirable product. Product managers must take the feedback they are getting from both customers and the market in general, and begin the cycle again, as they world to try and make their product better and more marketable.
Overall, the product manager role is to glue together the teams that are needed to make and release the product to the market. He/She manages the entire product from start to finish, conducts market research and makes sure that when the product gets out in the market it’s in the best possible quality and it has customers already.