A product manager is sometimes referred to as the CEO of a product, who, like a general manager oversees all aspects of the product and business. The role of product management spans many activities from strategic to tactical and varies based on organizational structure of the company.
Product manager responsibilities may also be likened to that of the janitor of the product because the role involves cleaning up the act of all parties involved, removing glitches and ensuring smooth running of the product. The product manager’s job also includes ensuring that the product supports the company’s overall strategy and goals.
Depending on the company size and history, product management has a variety of functions and roles and these responsibilities are discussed below.
1) Define Road maps and Product Strategy
The product manager needs to have a strong knowledge of business to understand how the product he is responsible for fits into the vision and overall direction of the company or organization. He also needs to optimize the quality of the product while ensuring a good return on investment.
Being the person that defines the roadmaps and product strategy, the product manager should be able to see the big picture and ensure that the product fits with the overall business strategy of the organization. The roadmap and vision are considered as the plan of record for the company to implement.
2) Risk Assessment
There are risks in every project. The key to managing a project is not to prevent or avoid risks, but to have a better understanding of them. Project management involves understand the benefits of risk management and viewing it from with a different perspective. Product manager responsibilities include identifying, mitigating, and controlling the known risks in order to increase the chances of reaching the company’s goals or objectives.
Some major responsibilities associated with product risk management include: identifying potential risks in a timely manner, coordinating risk evaluation, maintenance and management of the project risk register and seeking advice on appropriate risk treatment strategies. In order to properly manage risks, it is the responsibility of the product manager to deliver the project on time, on a budget and with quality results.
3) Managing Relationships for Project Success
Creating an effective project relationship is crucial to the success of any project. This is because good relationships can be the difference between outstanding success and dismal failure. Building sustainable and flexible working relationships to create an effective working environment begins with the project team but does not end there.
It is the role of the product manager to coordinate and build strong working relations. And building this kind of relationship involves mapping out an action plan, planning for change, communicating risks and defining roles and responsibilities.
4) Understanding the Market
There is no point building something if you don’t know what and who you want to build it for. Though product managers may not need to code anything, they still need to understand the market and direct product activities toward meeting those activities.
It also involves educating executives on the strategic importance of understanding the market so that they can give the market what it wants thereby satisfying the end user.
5) Monitor the Effectiveness of Product Management Teams
This is another major role occupied by a product manager. Monitoring the effectiveness of product management teams goes a long way in ensuring the smooth running of the process. The product manager is essential for helping to organize, plan, coordinate and control production within the organization. And he does all these by monitoring effectively.
Product management involves monitoring the production process and adjusting schedules as needed. It also involves monitoring product standards and implementing quality-control programs.
6) Conduct Competitive Analysis
Knowledge about competition is crucial to the success of any company or organization. This is why preparing a competitor analysis is an activity that any product manager should undertake at some point in the job.
Product manager responsibilities include researching the competition’s technology and gathering data around market share, direction of the industry and threat to the current product and business.
Even though two seemingly different products can solve a particular customer’s problem or meet a similar need, competitive analysis should be used to determine the organization’s position in the competitive landscape in order to satisfy the need of the customer.
7) Ensure Good Quality Products
Product manager responsibilities also include: monitoring standards and implementing quality-control programs, estimating costs and setting the quality standards (and making sure these quality standards are met).
He ensures that goods and services are produced efficiently, on time and that the correct amount is product at the right cost and level of quality. The end goal of the product manager is to ensure that the product creates a good return on investment, while optimizing its quality at the same time.
The role of a product manager tends to be closely integrated with other functions, such as marketing, sales and finance. It is strategic and not tactical. However, in the face of interdepartmental paralysis, effective product management needs strong executive support.
Therefore it is important to stand up for the strategic recommendations of a product manager in order to avoid paralysis of any form in an organization.