Many of the world’s industries — from technology to pharmaceuticals — are experiencing an increased demand to make their operations more efficient. In a high-pressure climate like this, having a knowledgeable product manager can help streamline the workflow and maximize the team’s ability to execute a product strategy.
The exact roles and responsibilities of a product manager can be difficult to pinpoint because the product manager position involves completing several tasks concurrently while communicating with different team members and groups. However, one thing is for certain: having a skilled product manager on the team is imperative to the success of any manufacturer or product-based company.
A General Overview of a Product Manager’s Role
The overall role of a product manager is to identify opportunities to develop and launch a product and then guide the rest of the team in ensuring that the product is successful.
Conduct Market and Consumer Research
One of the product manager’s first jobs in product planning is to research the needs of the ideal consumer and the pre-existing market for the product. Understanding key ideas about the target customer can help a product manager align product development with the consumers’ needs and lifestyle. Further, knowing about similar products that are already on the market can provide product managers with insight into which marketing strategies appeal to the ideal consumer.
Set the Goals for the Product
Product managers need to be goal-oriented people because it is their job to ensure their product decisions move the company’s goals forward. It is the product manager’s job to ensure that everyone on the product team is aligned to the company vision and is making products that fit. To do this, the product manager must clearly define goals, communicate them to the relevant teams, and hold everyone involved accountable.
Create Product Cases and Get Approval
When deciding which product to improve next, product managers must prioritize ideas and propose the best case where the investment of time and money is balanced against the projected sales return on the launch and aligns with the company goals. Their case for a product upgrade or brand-new product must receive a stamp of approval from executives and finance before development can begin.
Create and Manage Product Roadmaps
Product roadmap management is another key responsibility of the product manager. Managers need to build a product roadmap to help other members of the organization understand the overall strategy to move toward the big picture. To effectively create a product roadmap, managers need to ensure that they accurately visualize all of the organization’s goals - short and long-term - and specify the desired time frame.
The roadmap needs to be clear and simple for all team members to understand and document the product vision. After creating and communicating the product roadmap, the product manager also needs to update it throughout the development process. This involves tracking progress, making changes as they arise, and keeping everyone involved updated on their priorities.
Organize Cross-functional Meetings
Good communication is one of the most important ingredients in any organization’s recipe for success. When planning and developing a product, this often involves communication between different people, such as between different departments within the same organization or even between internal and external stakeholders. It is the product manager’s job to ensure that crucial conversations occur between the different functional groups involved.
Oversee the Progress of the Product
To ensure that a product strategy is successful, product managers need to keep tabs on progress throughout the entire process from start to finish. This involves several tasks, such as communicating with everyone involved and staying updated on their work to be ready to adapt to changes to re-align with the organization’s definition of success.
Who Does a Product Manager Interact With?
Ensuring the success of a product depends heavily on a product manager’s ability to communicate with their stakeholders.
Customers & Customer Representatives
Before a product can be defined, product managers collect information from customers or a customer rep to learn more about what the buyer needs and wants from the product. Whether it’s a new product or an improved version, customer insight is essential. Product managers may collect information directly from a group of customers or get reports from a customer research team.
Company executives provide a general framework for what they want for the organization in the long run, and the product manager helps to execute that vision. For instance, an executive may tell the product manager that they want to launch a new app in a new market. Although they may provide details and an idea of what they want to accomplish with the app, it is up to the product manager to develop and execute a plan that will achieve this vision.
Planning, developing, and launching a great product involves people of many different skill sets and backgrounds. Engineers, UX designers, software developers, and manufacturers are just some of the internal teams that may be involved in the process. Product managers need to stay connected to the leaders of these teams and their project managers to help solve problems, provide high-level guidance, and keep everyone up-to-date on the overall progress. This often involves meetings with each team and cross-functional meetings involving several teams.
The finance team is an essential voice in creating a product strategy because they are the people who determine if a product launch is feasible in the first place. The finance team is more likely to support a product if their analyses suggest that sales projections are promising and there is net financial gain. This, in turn, guides the product manager in curating the product such that it meets the company’s financial goals.
The marketing team is in charge of selling the product and making sure the customer understands the value and unique selling points of the product. Marketers rely on the product manager to clearly explain the benefits of the product before they take that information and create a story to sell to consumers.
A Day in the Life of a Product Manager
Every single day for a product manager is different because they are involved in a multitude of tasks across many teams and departments. However, in general, product managers employ several key skills that help them in their day-to-day responsibilities. Some of these skills include:
- Problem-solving: A product manager needs to be ready to address problems that arise quickly and systematically such that they don’t significantly hinder the workflow.
- Multitasking under pressure and time constraints: Being deadline-oriented and having the ability to manage multiple tasks at once is necessary due to the fast-paced, multifaceted nature of the job.
- Confidence: Product managers serve as leaders within their organization, so they need to make decisions with confidence. Being a confident leader helps all other team members have faith in the success of the project.
While every day for a product manager brings a new set of tasks and challenges, possessing the right skill set will ensure that an individual in this role can successfully spearhead the planning, development, and launch of a product.
How to Find the Right Product Manager for Your Organization
Product managers usually bring various skills to their role, including exceptional communication, organization, creative thinking, and strategic planning. Whether you’ve hired externally or have trained and promoted someone from within your organization, supplying your product managers with the right tools to do their job effectively is vital for success.
Ready to see how Gocious Product Roadmap Management Software can work for your company? Book a demo with us, and we’ll walk you through the features and simple set-up and integration process.