“PMs are extremely valuable to build the bridge between the outside (market, customers, partners) and the inside (all the sources around the product).”
The future of any company depends on the ideas that are being prioritized today. Product managers are the ones responsible for making those important decisions. This fact alone suggests that the work they do is critical.
When you look at the role of a product manager, it is clear that it is really a collection of many responsibilities that frequently do not have a natural home in other parts of the business.
"So why is the role of product manager misunderstood?"
Some answers to this question are listed below-
“PMs are extremely valuable to build the bridge between the outside (market, customers, external stakeholders, partners) and the inside (all the sources around the product).”
“They are the liaison between stakeholders and implementation teams.”
“Every product manager has an opportunity to embrace the challenging and rewarding role of creating and applying the product vision.”
These are all thoughtful considerations of the role of a product manager. Product managers prioritize and define what features will be added to the product and help their colleagues understand how to best market, sell, and support customers.
The role each product manager plays depends on many dynamics — the size of the company, the type of company, the type of product, the stage of the product, and the culture of the company all dictate the role and influence of the product manager.
A Product Manager
- Has responsibilities to manage from concept, to design, sample production, testing, forecast, cost, mass production, promotion, support, and finally product end of life.
- Delivers the operating plan: achievement of growth objectives including market share, revenue, profit and return on investment for all the channels/categories of business and/or key customers.
- Responsible for managing and implementing marketing activities through research, strategic planning and implementation.
"The Key Role of Product Managers: A Working Definition"
- To set the long-term vision and strategy for your company’s products.
- To communicate this strategy to all of the relevant participants and stakeholders.
Typically, the primary tool you will use to accomplish your key roles — product strategist and communicator — will be a product roadmap, which is a strategic, high-level document that conveys the “why” behind the products you’re building.
As a product manager, it is important to understand that you are a central hub within your company for a lot of critical information about your products, market, competitors, customers, prospects, key industry analysts, and many other constituencies.
To succeed, you will need to continually gather and analyze data and business intelligence from all of these sources (as well as your internal sources like sales and customer service) — and use this data to inform the evolution of your product roadmaps.
1. Be Transparent About Your Prioritization and Roadmap Process
Remember, much of your role as a product manager will be explaining “why” to various stakeholders and constituents — why you are prioritizing one feature or theme over another in a release; why you’ve chosen to focus more on one particular goal for the next two quarters versus another goal.
The best way to get the relevant constituencies — sales, marketing, engineering, your executives — on board with your strategic thinking is to be clear and open with them about why and how you are making decisions.
2. Be Able to Say “No,” But Explain Why in Terms That Stakeholders Understand
There will be plenty of times when an executive will ask for a new feature his gut tells him will be great… when an engineer will suggest tabling the development of a feature set to save time on the next sprint… and when a sales rep will ask (even beg) you to add a specific tool to the next release because a prospect has promised to buy if it’s included.
3. Be a Ruthless Prioritizer While Balancing the Needs of Customers and Stakeholders
Regardless of your company’s size or budget, you will always face limited resources for your product development. That means you will always need to prioritize, and continually weigh the competing factors of your objectives for your products, your company’s limited resources, and demands from various stakeholders.
4. Bring Evidence-Based Decision-Making to Your Communication
One of the most effective ways to answer why is with evidence. It’s much more compelling than your opinion — or anyone else’s.
If you have real-world user data, customer feedback, and metrics on your product then you already have an excellent source of business intelligence to inform how best to build your product roadmap. Let your own analytics help guide your decisions.
If you don’t have real-world user data on your products yet, don’t worry. There are plenty of other ways to gather useful intelligence about your product, customers and market. Ask your customers directly.