Introduction to Product Management

Estimated reading time: 37 min

Introduction to Product Management

If you’re a product manager, or if you think you might be playing the role of a product manager, you’re likely to have to justify what you’re doing to someone much less familiar with the field at some point…

Your other important pal, who got her first Facebook account in mid-2016,

Your Luddite dad, cardigan-wearing, who has not yet adopted an electric shaver

Your sprightly grandmother, whose most technologically advanced possession of AM/FM radio is her

Or maybe it will be your native-digital nephew whose mastery of countless apps has not taken him any closer to knowing how they are created.

Here’s a description of product management that suits all the mates, fathers, grandmas, and nephews out there without further ado. We hope it would also be handy for you and your colleagues.

What’s the management of products? A Definition

In the simplest terms possible.

Consumer leadership is deciding what to develop next.

To fix issues in the world, goods exist. This refers to physical items, such as skateboards, like Facebook, as well as digital ones. In the ether, these questions don’t just float around. These are concerns that real people have. So, for the sake of convenience, we’ll refer to them as user specifications.

Functional needs like I need to get to class on time or emotional needs like I need to feel valued by my friends include user needs. Both of these needs could be addressed by a device such as a skateboard, but then again, a Tesla could. Depending on time or context, the optimum solution for a need can differ from person to person.

To deliver innovations and drive business development, product management is essential. It is a significant organizational position that is becoming increasingly common. For instance, 15% of MBA students at MIT’s Sloan Business School continue to take on product management jobs, making it the second-largest graduate job category.

For entrepreneurial people, product management is fine. Sometimes, product managers are able to work with autonomy, work through several departments, have a huge effect on company development, and build life-long career skills.

It is possible to find product managers in companies that develop goods and technologies for external customers (consumers, end users, partners, etc as well as internal customers (employees). The plan, roadmap, and feature specification for a product or product line are the responsibility of product managers. The role may also include responsibilities for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L). To offer the best customer experience possible, product managers work closely with sales service, marketing, and engineering.

The management of goods ranges from strategic priorities to tactical operations, including:

Setting a distinct product vision and plan that delivers unique value based on client demands. This requires the concept of personas and the study of business and competitive dynamics.

Defining what the product team is going to produce and the delivery timetable. This involves designing a release schedule, capturing input and suggestions that are actionable, and prioritizing features.

Providing cross-functional management especially between engineering teams, marketing and sales, and support. Communicating progress against the product roadmap is a crucial component of this and keeping people aware of changes.

History

Originally, as a brand management position, the role of product management was established. During the Great Depression, it was first described in the U.S. In 1931, advertisement manager Neil McElroy wrote a memo to Proctor & Gamble colleagues (P&G). The young advertising executive suggested a “brand man” concept, a position with unique duties to handle the entire brand of a product and be responsible for its success.

At the heart of product management today is this notion of product ownership. Within a marketing sense, McElroy talked regarding product ownership. “take full responsibility, not simply for criticizing individual pieces of printed word copy, but also for the general printed word plans for his brands. “take full responsibility, not just for criticizing individual printed word copy items, but also for his brands’ general printed word plans.

A nerve was hit by McElroy’s memo. Many corporations have embraced a brand marketing approach over the next half-century. This practice came to be known as the management of consumer goods, and the software industry followed many of the same concepts as it developed during the 1980s. With positions as president at Harvard University and counselor at Stanford University, McElroy followed his job at P&G, where he became president.

Over time, the operational advantage of the position became so coveted that technology companies hired many brand managers. These emerging businesses wanted to exploit the deep knowledge of the product and the sense of ownership held by the job. Several brand managers went on to become businessmen and product executives.

For starters, before founding Intuit in 1983, Scott Cook was a brand manager at P&G. The positions of brand manager and founder of the business are very distinct. But Cook’s brand management history, based on knowing, providing, and polishing user experience, was paramount to the success of Intuit.

Gaps between engineering and brand management widened as technology progressed in the 1990s. Companies like Microsoft were increasingly growing, but as they scaled the production of software, they faced challenges. Engineers did not have processes to keep up with the requirements and concerns of customers. They still had little time for the sales and marketing departments responsible for revenue development to cooperate. The divide between teams started to be bridged by product managers.

“Good product managers take full responsibility and measure themselves in terms of the success of the product.”

These terms from the classic “Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager” memo by Ben Horowitz and David Weiden epitomize product management and what businesses today come to demand from their product leaders.

Skills

Product management is a career that is well-paid and satisfying. Depending on skill level, there are a number of product management positions and responsibilities required. Titles for product management range from an associate product manager’s entry position to a senior chief product officer who oversees the entire product team.

As a profession, product management continues to grow. Demand is rising at every level for skilled product managers. You should expect a demanding interview process if you are looking to start a career in product management. Be prepared to talk about your professional experience, decision-making ability, curiosity, and inspiration. By learning from a detailed list of interview questions, product managers will plan for interviews.

Obligations

Managers of products have both internal and external responsibility for inventory management. Internal project management includes the collection of customer research, competitive intelligence and market trends, as well as the strategy setting and management of the roadmap for the product. Brand marketing tasks, such as communications and branding, consumer contact, new product launches, advertisement, PR, and activities, are included in external product management.

Planning the product strategy and roadmap (Internal)

  • Strategy and Dream
  • Interviews with customers
  • Defining characteristics and demands
  • Constructing roadmaps
  • Control of releases
  • Go-to Engineering Resource
  • Training in sales and service

Marketing of goods and go-to-market operations (External)

  • Competitive distinguishing
  • Messaging and placement
  • Branding and Naming
  • Communication from the customer
  • Launches of Commodity
  • Links with the press and analysts

Competencies

To be effective, product managers need a broad range of skills. The best managers of goods are curious, reflective, and coordinated. A constant emphasis on consumer expectations helps product managers overcome strategic issues. They work hard to align and push action each day. To do this effectively, they need a range of skills, including collaborating with UX designers to create wireframes and mockups so that a feature’s reach is visible.

Tools

Historically, to convey their product plan and roadmap, most product managers have simply used a mix of spreadsheets, presentations, and text documents. These instruments are readily available and usually included in the suite of applications of any organization. But it became evident that there was a need for purpose-built instruments as the discipline progressed. Now, cloud-based applications and SaaS tools allow a single source of truth to set strategy, manage updates, identify functionality, and capture customer feedback.

Product managers determine what to produce next, and they do so by ensuring that the characteristics they create are useful, functional, and feasible.

We’ll also look at some of the other roles that product managers have that make the job so multifaceted, so easy to misinterpret, and so enjoyable.

How do managers of digital goods keep track of consumer needs?

Product managers most frequently catch solution ideas in a long feature backlog, a list of features that you would like to create someday, often stored in a spreadsheet, task management tool (e.g. Trello, Asana), or dev planning tool (e.g. JIRA, Pivotal Tracker). If you have not already found the problem with this if all you do is catch ideas for solutions, you risk jumping to conclusions. Far too often, before you’re even sure what problem it can solve, you’ll get fixated on a particular solution concept. That’s why it’s so important that you have a proper system for logging the user needs that you want to address and under them, acceptable solution ideas (feature ideas).

And when you begin to catch feature ideas, at this point it can still pay to remain high-level. As we will address below, designers and developers with user experience specialize in finding the best solutions to the issues you help to define as the most important to solve. It is not a reasonable use of your time and expertise to try to do their work for them. It can also cause the team to be overly strained and lead to suboptimal solutions.

Decide on what to build (and plan when to build it)

So far, based on what your users need, we’ve taken a closer look at the process of determining what features would be most useful to create. We will now look a bit more at the product manager’s other key responsibilities: ensuring features are functional and feasible.

You may want to start deciding what to create after you have organized the user requirements that you are interested in solving and generating some feature ideas. This stage is known as prioritization of functionality. It seems pretty overwhelming if you consider the task of prioritizing hundreds or even thousands, of features against each other in order to determine where to go and create next. That is why, and not during a single session, prioritization is better achieved over time.

When prioritizing what to build, what do product managers consider?

When prioritizing what to create next, here are some tips for setting yourself up for success:

Defining the target user: Most products represent several different types of users with needs and priorities that vary subtly. Decide in advance who is your target user segment-the community of users who are most important to your product’s success. You can’t please everybody! It would be easier if you can make prioritization choices when push comes to shove because they are what’s best for your target customer, even if doing so means forgoing others’ needs.

Focus on particular goals: There are strategic reasons to create such features as well in addition to how well features suit the needs of various types of users. A fresh onboarding flow may not be hotly demanded, but it’s a great opportunity to drive your product acquisition. Or maybe you decide to invest engineering effort on a growth hack to help current users invite others to launch a test of your product from their networks. Decide in advance what criteria you would use to determine the concept of a function. Right now, what’s most strategically important to your product, and to your business? Withholding current users? The acquisition of new ones? Improving the experience of users? Improving reliability for platforms? Your goals can vary from quarter to quarter, but you will want to concentrate on one or two goals at a time so that your team focuses on achieving concrete achievable goals rather than floating around the strategic intent of the features they have, aimlessly uncertain.

Prioritize in phases: You could sort your feature ideas in an initial step based on what users have requested this quarter most frequently. That could help you understand how many ideas are related to helping users get up to speed more quickly with your tool, and that in turn could encourage an effort to enhance this quarter’s onboarding. In turn, that will help you narrow your eyes on other characteristics that support this goal.

Validate your assumptions: Even if those feature proposals are prioritized as candidates, it would be unwise to give them straight to designers and engineers to start working on them. Serious features you are considering creating. Time-intensive work by highly qualified members of your team includes the implementation of high fidelity prototypes and writing production code. It’s always best to take the characteristics you’re considering working on and first run them by customers, particularly those who first requested them. Do they need these characteristics yet? Can you accurately understand their needs? Are they imagining the same final solution you’re doing? If there is a difference, is it a result of an underlying need being misunderstood? Before you begin working on a certain approach, try to answer all of these questions.

Ultimately, the product manager and the designer of user interface (or ‘interaction designer’) share the responsibility of thoroughly knowing the needs of users, as well as ensuring that any potential ideas are accessible given the background information, expertise, and experience of the user. This also includes the review of specific solution concepts by testers to ensure that users quickly understand how they function. On prototypes, this can also be achieved before writing a single line of code. Wherever practicable, the product manager should be active in this process, since it is always your duty to share user context with other engineering and marketing colleagues.

Know when to base your prioritization method in reality: until you deeply understand the problem you are solving, it is counter-productive to look for feature complexity estimates from a representative of the engineering team, but after you have whittled them down to a select few to go and explore further a process also called Product Discovery), you will be able to generate concrete solution ideas. This ensures that the team’s professional members will be able to determine each of them in terms of how difficult they will be to build. It’s not all black and white here. Sometimes there are contingencies attached. (Engineer: “If we have to support Internet Explorer, it will take 2 months to develop this new feature. If we don’t, it will take 2 hours.”) The trick is to make the tradeoffs transparent so that you know when to cut corners, when to forge a complicated feature to build ahead, and when to skip it in favor of a simpler feature with even higher value.

Get familiar with common prioritization structures for products: There are several different ways of framing what requirements are most relevant and using them to determine which features to construct. For example, based on projected scope, effect, effort, and trust, RICE dictates a particular formula for judging feature priority. The Kano model, which divides features into those that meet simple needs (and may be a deal breaker if your product did not provide them) versus those that actively delight users, favors another school of thinking.

Communicate context and constraints clearly with designers and developers: It is crucial to ensure that designers and developers understand what they are creating and why as product managers plan to submit features into development. This implies that the product manager must share the following information for each feature:

  • Strategic Aim Goal
  • It is important to answer Core users (and user segment being targeted)
  • KPI (What metric will shift and if this function works, how much?)
  • User scenarios that are allowed by the features
  • Constraints, requests, and other conditions for performance

“This information has historically been provided in the form of a specification of a function (or “spec”). It is worth adding that there has been some criticism against this strategy in recent years. So many product managers viewed specs as the end-all of their team’s communication, even though they ignored a vital background that helped designers and developers appreciate the real needs of the customer they were addressing, the real why they were working on behind the features. The “tossing specs over the wall” method from product to engineering was also just something inhumane, describing requirements in tens (even hundreds of pages without putting engineers in front of users to see with their own eyes the relevant needs. Of course, every user cannot be interviewed by engineers, but there is a happy medium where requirements are clearly detailed but embellished with more user background, and all teammates spend more time engaging with end users.

What to build and launch functionality, how do PMs plan?

Release in stages to reduce risk: Features can often be installed on their own and provide users with a lot of value. This may be the case for a particular piece of highly requested features. Other times, when you are to advance your product in a more meaningful way, complementary features must be created and published together. For example, to meet the needs of an administrator user position, you could create an entirely new interface, composed of many features, that needs to be able to better manage users in their organization if they are to succeed with your product. To help them handle their goods at a basic level, an entirely new admin console is required.

In this latter case, to analyze an entire initiative, we have gone beyond one-off function prioritization. This is tricky terrain because before they are checked on consumers, it allows the team to risk placing considerable effort on designing many features. Often try to minimize this risk, even if that’s a small subset of the larger initiative, by designing and launching the smallest possible group of features. That way, if you learn anything unexpected (e.g. administrators do not really need an audit log, they could get away without it if there was better versioning), you can begin gathering input from users as early as possible and can change direction. By launching additional phases of functionality at a later time, you can still complete an initiative. The minimum viable product is defined as this method of launching the smallest amount of functionality as early as possible in order to optimize learning and reduce risk. It is fundamental to the lean strategy and encompasses much of all facets of prioritization and preparation.

Align the teams

We have so far explored how product managers are responsible for ensuring that products are useful, functional and feasible for users to create. While all of this work takes place up front, once a feature specification is submitted to engineering, the job of the product manager is not finished. A variety of issues will arise as soon as development starts, about the best way to build a certain function based on the needs of the consumer. Not every contingency will cover even the best written specs of all time. It’s the responsibility of the product manager to champion the interests of the customer at every stage of the product design and delivery process ensuring that the finished product meets the needs of the user, arrives on schedule, and is successfully launched. There will also be unexpected challenges and roadblocks that must be clarified by the product manager so that the team can be as effective as possible when bringing new characteristics to life.

Notice that this step of implementation is the one most associated with project management, a discipline that may sound similar to product management, but is only one component of it in fact. Product managers, after all need to consider what customers need and decide what to construct before they handle the delivery process. Project management may also be a specialization in its own right, and some companies employ project managers (focusing on execution) to collaborate with product managers (focusing on prioritization). But product managers are also on the hook for project management of a technology in most organizations before its launch, and ensuring that all teammates are aligned with why the feature is being developed.

What kinds of deliverables need to be handled by product managers?

Here are the deliverables that product managers often have to handle as features grow from design to completed, released product:

How do you use power, not authority, to lead the organization?

One of the biggest challenges of product management is the obligation to essentially determine the fate of the product of your business, the source of all sales that pay the salaries of everyone, without having any real authority over any of your colleagues. (In certain contexts, despite what the term “manager” means, in this situation, you’re not the boss.) In other words, your choices significantly influence others, and unless you give them one, they have no excuse to follow along. The value of power, or consciously rallying your colleagues around a shared vision for the product’s future lies there, even if it does not fit perfectly with their own inclinations for where the product should go. For instance, how can you persuade a salesperson who was explicitly hired to deal with the SMB prospects of your business that the company’s best bet for long-term success is to target Fortune 500 companies with new enterprise functionality? His bonus could be on the table, even his job security. But it’s still your responsibility to win him over to your line of thinking if it’s in the best interest of the product and the business. No one has ever said this is going to be fast!

One secret to winning colleagues’ buy-in effectively is getting their input early and frequently. You were possibly gathering user reviews and feature suggestions from customer-facing colleagues around the company from the earliest phases of the prioritization process. It’s time now to show them that all their sacrifices have not been in vain! Share your plans with them and help them understand the principles that you have used to make complicated decisions about prioritization and challenging tradeoffs. What are the biggest quarter objectives? What projects are you going to focus on to solve them? In what phases will various groups of characteristics be released? When are they going to be available to users? How can consumer activity affect this?

Both prospects and customers will be interested in seeing the roadmap depending on the type of product you work on, particularly for complex b2b products with long sales cycles, where end consumers are more likely to be highly involved with the intricacies of your product. Their livelihoods can also rely on it in the case of a product like a marketing automation system that helps marketers control their funnel. Providing clarity in the decision-making behind your roadmap is a great way to get customers excited about your product’s future while gaining early input on features that are yet to be created.

Engage the network of customers

We can often flatter ourselves as product managers, assuming that the lives of consumers revolve around our goods. In reality, other responsibilities and distractions are inundated with them. So, they do not bite when it comes to asking users to spend time and effort to help us develop our products (to their advantage), unless we have taken active measures to involve our customer base. Doing so offers you the ability to turn successful clients to devoted fans.

Show your users that they have been heard

When gathering user reviews, make sure that you have logged who needs what so that you can thank them down the road for their input. Do you have an important call from a customer? Show up organized, having reviewed in advance their recent inputs. They’ll know that you listen!

Share your thoughts and what’s scheduled to be considered

Seek input from users on the ideas you are considering, and you expect to develop functionality. They can have useful feedback that will help you validate your views, so you know that you are solving the right issue and solving it in the right way. Users will be more invested in the product in the meantime and will recommend further changes on their own. Users should know that even though you have not requested detailed input, they can apply brand new ideas they have.

Celebrate what was launched by you

Your team works hard on the new characteristics they are designing. Remember to support what’s new! Provide a way for colleagues and clients to see all newly released features, so that they can keep updated of what new features are now available. Plus, you might be shocked by how much your team has achieved in recent months when you see it all together! Does the team feel proud of what they’ve done, with all the kudos they’ll get?

What is a product manager’s role?

Product managers are accountable for directing a product’s performance and heading the cross-functional team responsible for optimizing it. It is an essential organizational position that sets the strategy, roadmap, and feature description for a product or product line, particularly in technology firms. The role may also include responsibilities for marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L). In several respects, the role of a product manager at a consumer packaged goods company is close in nature to a brand manager.

In order to lead the company and make strategic product decisions, product managers have the deep product experience required. They also evaluate business and competitive dynamics, creating a differentiated product vision that provides unique value based on consumer demands. The position spans several strategic to tactical operations and provides significant cross-functional leadership, especially between engineering, marketing, sales and support teams.

The product manager is the person responsible for identifying the product that the engineering team builds, why, where and what. This implies that they lead cross-functional teams all the way through to their launch from the creation of a product.

Here are the main elements of product leadership for which all product managers should feel responsible:

Strategy

The product manager is accountable for developing a vision and plan for the product. Their role is to express the business value clearly to the product team so that they understand the intent behind the introduction of the new product or product. The product manager owns the roadmap and must prioritize the development of what matters most in order to achieve the product’s strategic objectives and initiatives.

Releases

Product managers must prepare what will be delivered by their teams and the delivery timetable. No matter the creation approach the engineering team uses, this holds true. It is the duty of the product manager to identify the release process and to organize all of the activities necessary to bring the product to market. This includes bridging gaps within the organization between various roles and aligning all the involved departments, including marketing, sales and customer service. Responsibilities also involve maintaining dependencies to complete release phases and milestones in and through updates. Ideation

Every company wants better ideas, but organizing and prioritizing them is difficult. The imaginative process of creating, designing, and curating new ideas is the property of product managers. In order to advance the product plan, they decide which concepts should be promoted into features, including those that will achieve key objectives for the product line and market. They also ensure that reviews and demands are incorporated seamlessly into their product design and development processes to this end. Product managers then convey the status of proposals back to the consumers who sent them, investors, and internal team members.

Features

Features are prioritized by the product manager by rating them against strategic priorities and initiatives. This involves making tough trade-off choices based on the benefit to consumers and the organization that new features can bring. It is also the duty of the product manager to identify the criteria for each feature and the user experience desired. Product managers collaborate closely on the technical requirements with engineering to ensure that teams have all the knowledge they need to market a full product.

It’s invigorating to create great things. When a group of dedicated, focused, and enthusiastic team members play their roles to the best of their ability, effective products are created and embraced by consumers. This begins with a strong product manager who feels a deep sense of obligation and management of what is mentioned above for their job.

What is a product?

For any company, and certainly for product managers, this is a basic issue. What is a product? A product is any good or service that you offer to satisfy the needs or wants of a customer. This description may seem plain, but there is a lot more to a product than its features at first glance and what the consumer feels they are paying for, as you will discover in this guide.

A product can be virtual or actual. Durable goods (such as vehicles, chairs, and computers) and non-durable goods are tangible objects (such as food and beverages). Services or experiences provided by virtual products are (such as education and software). A brand may be a hybrid, with both physical and virtual parts. As conventional analog products adopt digital technology as a way to better meet and satisfy consumers, hybrid products are becoming more popular.

Both a product and a service may be called software. You can buy a physical version of the app and install it on-site, which is what has been done historically. This basically means that the program, opposed to a remote server or in the cloud, is mounted on the computer of the customer. Today, many software objects are virtually sold. This is where the software-as-a-service (SaaS) concept comes from. This strategy uses a web-based distribution model, and to access the software, consumers pay a monthly or annual subscription fee.

Throughout its lifecycle, there is possibly someone responsible for designing and sustaining a product. This is also the manager for the commodity. In technology companies, the task of product management is to think holistically about the experience of the consumer. This is because clients determine what they think and how they feel about a product based on the total collection of experiences they have with a business. It is not enough to win long-term loyalty to have a good product at a reasonable price.

Classifications of goods

There are also additional ways to categorize goods. We are going to concentrate on a few areas in this guide, including consumer form, buying behavior, business items, and industry.

Types for customers

You can begin by separating goods between two major types of customers: consumer and business. Depending on what sort of customer they represent, goods are generally known as business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). A third group called B2B2C, exists. This is where, through another organization, a business targets the consumer market. An example of a B2B2C product is OpenTable. The business directly offers its online reservation booking program to restaurants, but it is used by customers searching for dining choices available.

A company can have both customer and business clients, but it is fundamental to the product and marketing plan to consider how each form of buyer would purchase and use a product.

Purchasing behavior

Commonly, consumer goods are further classified by buying conduct. Each type of product has a distinct set of features that impact the way clients purchase them. The four main product classifications and the effect of technology on consumer behavior are explained in the table below.

Business Products 

On the other hand, business goods help businesses build or run their own products. Raw materials, equipment, component parts, supplies, and business services are examples of business items. In order to support core business operations, business software is used by businesses. Examples of business applications include accounting, management of customer relationships (CRM), management of human resources, and tools for strategic planning. Business applications are further classified by the company’s size, small and medium companies or businesses.

Sectors

The industry they represent also defines goods. Industries are widely divided into industries such as energy, healthcare, financial services and IT. Vertical market goods are called items that are customized to suit the needs of a particular industry. A healthcare application for handling patient data is an example of a vertical market product. It is defined as a horizontal market product when a product is present in multiple industries, and can serve a wide range of consumer needs. For instance, all business types may make use of a general accounting platform.

Complete product experience

A commodity is more than just the physical or virtual product that is provided. The characteristics and advantages a product offers are of course, significant. Quality is focused on whether the product offers the essential characteristics and benefits that a consumer wants, value-added features and benefits that meet expectations, and potential improvements.

What tools are used by product managers?

It’s no simple task to guide a product from creation to completion, and product managers deserve their own toolkit.

Brand managers have few resources in the past to assist them in doing this fantastic job. To build roadmaps, capture ideas, prioritize features, identify specifications, and more, we relied on spreadsheets, presentation decks, and general project management software. With product managers in mind, however these tools were not developed. This adds an already demanding job to more time-consuming work.

A broad range of instruments are available today to make product management simpler. This covers everything from setting the product plan to designing functions and constructing wireframes on the tactical side.

The instruments listed here are grouped in the following areas:

  • Strategy for the product and road mapping
  • Analysis
  • Feedback from Customers
  • Wireframing and Construction
  • Experience assessment for consumers
  • Onboarding Customer
  • Collaboration and performance
  • Management of tasks and duties

To be a product manager, what skills are required?

Construction of the future by product managers. You are responsible for handling goods in people’s lives that make a real difference. You set the plan, create the roadmap for the product, and prioritize the work that brings it together. And when you coordinate a cross-functional team of engineers, advertisers, salespeople, and specialists in customer service, you do this.

This impactful work directly contributes to the organization’s success. And to do well takes a large skill set. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the weight of this obligation if you are new to the field. Do not get discouraged, however. In some regions, most product managers are better than in others. And getting formal training is uncommon for product managers-you develop and sharpen your abilities on the job.

The key is to familiarize yourself with the abilities that you need in product management to succeed. And to concentrate on progressing incrementally. Over time, you can build faith in your ability to make your company have a greater impact.

Essential abilities for managers of goods

At each organization, product management roles can look very different. There are roles for many product managers that overlap with product marketing, program management and user experience. There are important abilities that every product manager needs to excel, no matter the job title. Chances are, in many of these places, you already stand out:

Strategic abilities for thinking

When identifying the vision of a product and the path you will take to achieve it, strategic thinking is important. Ultimately, the success of your product depends on the ability to think beyond the tactical work of every day and have a full product experience (CPE). To have a single source of truth that links strategy to plans, use road mapping software.

Empathy Skills 

For those who use it, creating a lovable product needs real empathy. And it is an ability to learn how to react to the suffering of clients. You need to know how to communicate with your clients efficiently and then convert their thoughts into real solutions.

Leadership skills

A team that is united and works towards shared objectives is behind any successful product. You are at the helm as the product manager. But without formal authority, you have to lead the team. With confidence, compassion, and diplomacy, great product managers lead.

Communication skills

It takes outstanding communication skills to keep the cross-functional team in sync. For managers, developers, advertisers and salespeople, you need to translate essential knowledge. The more you know the information that each team needs to do their jobs well the better you can work with them:

  • Executives: Action plans and progress toward targets
  • Developers: Comprehensive user stories and criteria for functionality
  • Marketers: Go-to-market timelines and how to articulate the significance of new features
  • Salespeople: What’s new and why it helps clients

Research abilities

Great product managers understand their clients and the market profoundly. Knowing how to untangle and interpret all the data that comes your way is critical. Consolidate research into shared documents that the team can access and learn from (e.g., business models, user personas, competitor analysis).

Professional ability

You may not write the code, but the technology behind the product needs to be understood. You will need to understand how it is made. Get familiar with the methodologies, techniques and methods used by the engineering team. This will make estimating functionality, identifying specifications, and committing to release plans simpler for you.

Financial abilities

You are like an accountant with your commodity in many respects. You need to consider how financial reports can be analyzed: pricing, operating expenses, and recurring revenue. Work in finance, distribution, and market growth with colleagues to deepen the skills. Financial skills will assist you to holistically assess your product.

Analytical abilities

You need to assess your success while you carry out your strategy and plan. To work with, you will have plenty of product consumption details. But numbers give only a partial image of you. You will find patterns with excellent analytical skills and dive into the why” behind the metrics.

Skills in project management

It requires immense coordination to launch products and features to market. It can be daunting to have an endless list of projects, dependencies, and significant due dates. Strengthen your skills in project management to get coordinated.

Presentation skills

A lot of presentations are made by product managers to the product team, executives, and even clients. You may also be accountable for delivering demos, leading webinars, or presenting at conferences. A good presentation is succinct, stimulating, and personalized to the crowd. Challenge yourself with each presentation you give to get better.

Traits of successful product managers

You are constantly searching for opportunities to develop, fill the holes in the company, and consistently produce a better product. Good product managers are fundamentally driven.

That is why most product managers have a combination of personality characteristics that are ideally suited to this role. See how many of these attributes you identify with:

Intriguingness

Product managers have a willingness to continually learn about their clients, company, rivals, and industry. In finding the best options to satisfy consumer needs, you are persistent.

Work Ethics

Your best effort, you still send. You drive yourself on time to deliver and you help keep others focused on the future.

Confidence

You have self-assurance and you boldly make choices. But with modesty, you balance decisiveness. And you seek feedback from others when you don’t know the best way forward. Your confidence animates the squad.

Compassion

You are sympathetic to the larger team’s time-constraints and other grievances. And you’re exploring ways to ease their tension, you may want to share crucial details as quickly as possible, or you’re working to set practical deadlines.

Accountability

You’re doing what you say that you’re going to do. For the good of your clients and the organization, teammates trust your ability to get things done.

Of course, to develop into your position, you can find that you need to flex additional traits and abilities. It is up to you to strike a balance that helps you succeed. Each company defines its product roles differently.

How are product teams structured?

A terrific product team is behind any great product. It is the responsibility of the product team to execute strategy, develop the roadmap, and identify product features. These are the individuals who choose what is designed, encourage what is fresh, and evaluate efficiency, critical organizational roles within any company.

The delivery of a full product experience is what really matters, regardless of the goods or deals you are responsible for. Simple ownership and established responsibilities will help you achieve better outcomes. This implies that to better help the objectives you want to accomplish; you should organize your team.

Who makes up the product organization?

Typically, a product group consists of cross-functional teammates. They are responsible for inventory management, marketing of products, user interface, and analytics of products. Marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) tasks can also be assigned to product teams.

The table below summarizes each function’s roles and responsibilities within a traditional product organization: product management, customer interface, and analytics of goods. It also requires positions and obligations for product marketing. Brand managers will do their job if a company has no product development team.

Function Responsibilities Roles
Product management Set the product vision and strategyPlan and deliver releasesCollect and curate new ideasDefine new product features Director of product managementGroup product managerProduct ownerProduct managerAssociate product manager
User experience (UX) Conduct user research Build user story maps Create wireframes, mockups, and prototypes Perform usability testing Director of user experience UX manager Senior UX designer UX designer Product designer
Product analytics Integrate data sourcesResearch market trendsUnderstand user journeysReveal user behaviors and pain points Director of product analyticsAnalytics managerSenior product analystProduct analystBusiness analyst
Product marketing Research the competitive landscapeDefine buyer personasCreate and coordinate launch plansCraft positioning and messaging Director of product marketingSenior product marketing managerSolutions marketing managerPortfolio marketing manager

What are the most common organizational structures for products?

No one-size-fits-all structure exists. For instance, you can organize your product team around the various products or product lines in your organization. Or, whether it is a product element or a consumer category, you should coordinate around the functional region that each team supports.

When you think about the right organizational framework for your product team, ask these questions:

  • Who are your target clients? How do their needs differ?
  • What organization priorities are your team responsible for achieving?
  • Are there many goods to be handled or product lines?
  • What are the product team’s functions?
  • What resources will each team be devoted to?

Some of the most common organizational frameworks for goods are included below. Each focus on a particular business need, such as the type of product or the segment of customers. Select a framework that better supports the objectives you need to accomplish.

By commodity or line of products

Organizing around a product or product line, particularly in larger organizations, is the most common structure for product teams. There is a dedicated product manager for each product, who reports directly to the product VP or chief product officer. You see three product lines with an embedded UX designer in the example below.

This structure scales well and gives control to product managers over their product or product line, so that you can concentrate deeply on and solve customer problems. Brand managers may make decisions and iterate rapidly within this system because they have very strong ownership. This arrangement can also contribute to siloed work, so product managers must be intentional in finding time to share beyond their ownership area with peers.

By function

Organizations of complex products which have teams devoted to unique functions or features of the product. One product manager in the diagram below is responsible for the chat functionality of the product, another is responsible for the email platform, and so on.

Product managers have a discrete field of emphasis in this framework and require insight into cross-dependencies that occur for the product suite. To create a cohesive whole, a chief product officer helps sustain visibility.

By segment of clients

Some businesses organize their product teams around segments of consumers. This is normal when, as in the example below, a product meets the needs of various vertical markets: banking, healthcare, manufacturing, etc.

It is possible to organize product teams across horizontal markets as well. A sporting goods company, for example, which produces products for tennis players and golfers, may have product managers unique to each category.

Just as in the other systems above, there are particular advantages and challenges for teams organized by customer group. The emphasis is on offering a full product experience that exceeds consumer standards, and exposure and cross-collaboration are crucial.

What are some job titles for Product Management?

In most organizations today, product management is a critical strategic feature. Product managers are responsible for identifying consumer and customer desires as advocates for the product, industry, and the end user.

Project managers also lead a cross-functional product team, in addition to creating product roadmaps. In order to keep product plans, changes, and releases running smoothly, they also work with other functional groups (such as marketing, distribution, support, and UX).

There is a college degree for most product managers and many have a graduate degree. Majoring in company or technology and receiving suitable internships will increase the chances of an applicant earning an entry-level product position.

Product Management Titles 

Within a product management function, the titles and responsibilities will depend on the size and form of company. To define positions that include product management work, some companies use job titles such as “offering manager” or “solutions manager”. There could be many more title variations, depending on the product creation approach that your business uses.

Associate Product Manager

An associate product manager (APM) is an entry-level position that normally reports to a product manager (PM) or product manager of the group. This is also a place of mentorship secured at the start of the career of a product manager. APMs have the chance to learn and shape a solid base of best practices from senior product leaders.

The aim is to gain an understanding of how and why new ideas are produced and current products are improved. Competitive analysis, analyzing data and identifying specifications for features as driven may involve the day-to-day duties of an associate product manager.

Product Manager

A product manager is usually accountable for a product or product line’s plan, roadmap, and feature specification. They can report to the group product manager, the senior product manager, or the product vice president, depending on the size and structure of the organization. With three to five years of experience, they will step into the job.

The role includes collaborating with cross-functional teams, including managers of product marketing and analysts of company. Forecasting and benefit and loss obligations may also be achieved by them. To identify a product vision that provides unique value, PMs evaluate the competition and competitive landscape. This role covers many kinds of operations, from strategic to tactical. They provide cross-functional leadership, most often between engineering, marketing, sales and support, and bridge organizational differences between various functional groups.

Product Owner

There is both a product manager and a product owner in some agile teams. For a similar degree of work experience, the product owner is likely to report to the same boss that the PM does. Instead of assigning a single employee with both external and internal duties, the position is split into two parts. Product manager vs. product owner and who owns what can cause confusion?

Depending on the business and workflow, the answer to that question is widely debated because it can be so murky. By prioritizing user stories and answering product questions, the product owner can help the development team. In the meantime, the product manager is responsible for conveying the customer’s voice and is concerned with achieving customer and business growth.

Group Product Manager

The group product manager (GPM) is responsible for the leadership and guidance of a product management team responsible for a single product group. A product manager can have the most senior non-executive position and is also responsible for overseeing other product managers. Usually, they report to a product director or vice president and with five to eight years of experience will come into the position. A GPM’s regular tasks include analysis, planning, creation of goods, and management of staff.

Director of Product Management

The product management director typically reports to the product VP in a larger company or to the CEO or leader of the business unit in a smaller organization. With seven to 10 years of experience, they can step into the job. This is a senior position that needs expertise in management and the ability to work with managers and other cross-functional leaders.

The product management director should be in a position to express a strong vision for the product’s future. They also prioritize investments for their company that can generate the most market benefit.

Vice President of Product Management

In larger, more developed organizations, the Vice President of Product Management (VP of Product) is typically located. With eight to 12 years of experience, they can step into the role and report to a C-level executive. We are an executive influencer responsible for major projects and building what will produce the most value for the organization. To keep cross-functional teams connected, they work regularly. When debating strategies and even mergers and acquisition practices, they have a credible voice.

The product VP also has control far outside the team they oversee in the company. They work closely with other key manufacturing, distribution, service, and marketing leaders to make sure their company makes investments that support business objectives. There may also be a senior vice president of product management (SVP of Product) in some companies that leads a product portfolio.

Chief Product Officer

The Chief Product Officer (CPO) typically reports directly to the CEO and is accountable within a company for all product activities. With 10 to 20 years of experience, they can step into the job, depending greatly on the size and needs of the organization.

Usually, the CPO will focus on setting the overall product plan, which is intended to fulfill the CEO and board members’ corporate vision and priorities. The CPO also plays the position of CMO often. In this situation, the promotion and production of the product was handled by them.

Product management career path

Start by thinking like one, if you want to become a product manager. Make a habit of focusing on things you often use. Audit these goods as though you were an end user, and again as if you were responsible for creating the product as the product manager. What could the plan for the product be? What changes would you give priority to?

You can be more proactive if you are already working in a product position and are looking to step into a more senior job title. Look for possibilities for improving skills in analytical, technological, product design, leadership and customer contact.

What is the average pay of a product manager?

One of the most coveted career options for college and MBA graduates is product management. Recently, Glassdoor named it one of America’s top 10 best work. This is because the position is interesting, well paying, and provides significant career growth opportunities.

How much is usually made by a product manager? Typical salaries for product managers can range anywhere from $63,000 to over $200,000, according to compensation sites such as Glassdoor and PayScale.

There are a variety of reasons why this wage range is so broad. Usually, hiring managers consider considerations such as experience, geographic position, schooling, and competence in the industry when making a bid.

Please notice that the specific salaries in this article are for work managers of general products (unspecified type). In July 2020, all salary information was published by Glassdoor.

Seniority

Seniority is the primary predictor of pay scales, no matter what sector you are in. Management of goods is no different. However, seniority does not necessarily require a decade of experience in fast-growing tech sectors outside of very senior product management positions.

Product manager associate: $96,000

The best way to break into product management for a recent graduate or someone making a big career change is to join a company as an associate product manager. A college degree and anywhere from zero to two years of previous work experience would be expected by most businesses. Since this is an entry-level job, even larger businesses have begun recruiting from colleges and universities to fill their roles as associate product managers.

Brand manager: 109,000 dollars

As an associate product manager or similar position (such as in manufacturing, distribution, or product marketing manager), three to five years is typically ample experience to be eligible for the role of a product manager. And the experience would possibly also come with a pay rise. New graduates with an MBA or advanced technology degrees may be able to fully bypass the position of associate product manager and start their careers as product managers. Those with no relevant work experience, however are likely to earn less than the average, which is still higher than most open positions for new graduates.

Senior product manager: 124,000 dollars

After around five to eight years of experience in a product management position, product managers are typically qualified to become senior product managers. Job roles for senior product managers can include overseeing several products or an entire portfolio of products.

Product marketing director: $149,000 dollars

In order to have more than seven years of both product management experience and personnel management experience, most businesses need a director-level product manager position. Quite sometimes, businesses look for industry-specific skills. A business-to-consumer SaaS company, for example, would look for a director who has experience delivering customers with a SaaS product. The product management director leads a team of product managers, and they can take a role in the overall leadership team of smaller businesses.

VP of Management of Products: $181,000

A member of the leadership team is almost always the VP of product management and owns the company’s product vision. Moreover, they are responsible for mentoring the product team and developing it. Many recruitment firms need prior experience leading a team of product managers and are searching for industry-specific skills. The salary can vary widely for this senior product role. It might not be feasible for start-ups and smaller businesses to offer large wages, but they may offer equity. Enterprise firms, of course, typically give generous wages and packages that include performance bonuses and profit sharing.

Chief Product Officer (CPO): 194,000 dollars

The CPO is a feature at the executive level that is increasingly present in large companies. This position also reports directly to the chief executive officer and is accountable within a corporation for the entire organization of product management. This involves determining the overall product strategy and ensuring that the approach meets the vision and objectives of the company. While a CPO’s average base salary is just under $200,000, with annual bonus and stock options, overall compensation packages will go even higher.

How do product managers work with other teams?

In order to launch and optimize products that consumers enjoy, successful product managers lead cross-functional teams. You rest at an organization’s epicenter. You are the link between what consumers are looking for and what is being added to the market. In the teams that develop, market, sell, and help what you foresee, you have a vested interest. And then you need to establish deep relationships with those peers.

“Get comfortable with your own role in the organization and the value you provide. Take ego and friction out of how people work together.”

It demands that product managers empathize with others to produce lovable goods. How is this release or functionality going to affect other teams’ work? What needs to be done by a specific team to plan for an upcoming launch? To be successful, what do they need to know?

The cross-functional team will answer these questions to generate loyalty, confidence, and internal enthusiasm for what you are creating. This is the ideal basis for building affection for the consumer and it begins with direct communication.

Cross-team contact facilitation

Without the advantage of explicit authority, product managers have essential obligations. Your job directs and influences many people, but those teams are not run by you. But it is important that you can develop the trust and leverage you need to move the product forward with colleagues from various functional classes.

When promoting cross-team contact, there are a few simple strategies that product managers should adopt:

Plan: Building a well-defined project roadmap sets a clear path and ensures that people understand the strategy for the product and can see how it will be enabled by their efforts.

Listen: Solicit feedback, especially from customer-facing individuals. These people will help you better understand the real issues facing your users and solve them. Make it easier to send requests through a portal of ideas.

Understand: Take the time to get to know your friends and know how other departments work. Learn to talk their language and know their priorities. This will help you more effectively communicate with them.

Communicate: Interruptions and unintended modifications occur. If significant dates or scope of work shifts, the wider team would need to know in order to adapt their timelines accordingly. Don’t leave anyone in the darkness.

Adjust: Clients, partners, and the industry can collect useful input from your colleagues. Perhaps they find something that does not quite make sense about the features or time period. Stay versatile and open to feedback, so your customers can offer the best experience.

Acting with a cross-functional team of items

The maturity of product management varies by organization. But usually, you will be responsible for guiding a cross-functional team of goods. This group is responsible for deciding what is designed, selling what is new, promoting the new consumer experience, and monitoring the success of it all, called a product team. Although, depending on the business, product, and consumer base, each company and team structure is special, you can typically find engineering, product management, design/UX, and customer service members on a product team.

But outside the core group working on each update, you can expand the idea of the product team. It encompasses working with:

Engineering

Product managers cooperate on the production work of teams of engineers. It involves determining the characteristics, forecasting jobs, and scheduling sprints and releases. Product managers should include well-defined functionality to their technical teams that explicitly relate back to the objectives of the team. The best product managers keep engineers focused, effective, and free from barriers.

Financials

In every company, the finance team tracks a wide range of metrics, from consumer acquisition costs to average user sales and customer lifetime value. To better understand these metrics and refine them for business development, product managers partner with finance teams. In order to support emerging business models, they will need to integrate with back-end systems and processes.

Legal

When product managers identify their product offerings, they include legal teams to ensure compliance criteria are met by new experiences and innovations. In highly regulated industries, this is particularly important for mitigating risks while allowing the organization to develop.

Marketing

It’s the duty of the marketing team to attract, convert, and keep clients. Their job is the first touch-point and in front of potential customers gets a product or service. In explaining the specific advantages of a commodity, they need to be experts. The product manager needs to consult with marketing on customer personas, go-to-market schedules, and how to convey new product attributes to do this effectively.

Program Management  

To enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiency, program managers exist. They create a roadmap of the program that involves several projects supporting a wider initiative of the organization. In order to ensure that the execution of their programs is on schedule and on budget, product managers work closely with program managers.

Project management

Project managers are similar to program managers, but instead of overseeing several tasks under a single program, they work at an individual project level. To monitor resource utilization, risks, and possible bottlenecks, product managers collaborate with project teams.

Sales

Salespeople are responsible for helping potential clients become customers. This is achieved by successful salespeople by finding the best possible exchange of value with the client they are dealing with. They figure out if what the consumer wants is a good fit for the product or service. Salespeople will share information on what resonates and what buyers are looking for during their sales conversations. In exchange, product managers need to let the sales team know what’s new and why clients will benefit from it.

Support

The support team is closer to consumers than any other community and truly recognizes the pain points and requirements of customers. To hear about consumer challenges, listen in on customer calls to help. And communicate new features with support proactively so they can help customers thrive.

A commodity is more than what you’re selling directly. The full product experience is the whole relationship you and your customers have (CPE). Anything you do should concentrate on getting value to customers as guardians of the CPE. This involves how other teams communicate with you.

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