A product manager is the one who is responsible for the team to ship a great product. A role that has become increasingly popular, however the reasons behind this and what a product manager actually does is less clear.
“Good product managers focus on the product, they obsess about the product, think of creative ways in making the product better; can this design be made more contemporary, will this feature delight the user, what can I do to increase user adoption/retention etc. They take full ownership of the product.”
Growth of a technological presence
The growth of tech companies and transformation of non-tech companies into tech companies, all delivering digital products. In the digital product world of tremendous consumer choice, low switching costs, social sharing, ratings, reviews, and recommendations, making great products matters more than ever to keep a user’s attention.
This leads to an increasing demand for a role of someone who has a holistic overview of the product.
Having a team of engineers, analysts, designers and a project manager all trying to achieve the customers goals is difficult especially when each stakeholder has a varying aim and objective which can come in to conflict.
Therefore having a product owner who can liaise with the engineers, design, quality assurance, user research, data analysts, marketing, sales, customer support, business development, legal, content writers, other engineering teams and the executive team. Allows for the individual teams and departments to focus on their core goals, whilst the product manager works on curating the perfect product for market.
The Product Life Cycle
Another key reason for having a product manager is the increasingly difficult product life cycle. Due to Software Development methodologies changing to be more agile and flexible. The traditional methods of Research, Design, Testing and Implementation still exist but operate in different ways. Therefore creating a need for a more fluid role across the different stages of procreation of a product.
From thinking of the next idea in research planning may come from customer request, competitive analysis, new technology, user research or brainstorming.
Working with the designers creating goals, use cases, requirements, wire frames and security measures.
Within the implementation stage, constant checking on how implementation is going, changing features to make implementation easier. Managing resources like engineers, gathering feedback and reporting bugs early on.
Then ensuring a successful launch and release of the product. The product manager might to to provide continued to support, gather metrics and iterating on user feedback.
This combined with an agile methodology may involve this process to be carried out every sprint period or dependent on the implementation strategy used for the customer. This all allows for a role in which someone can be flexible across teams and the different product cycles.
Aligns with Market
Another key reason for having a product manager is because it allows the product to stay in line with their market goals. This is of course dependent on the type of product you are developing.
Often when developing a product, a team can lose sight of their business market in which they are developing for. Becoming too blinded sighted and narrow minded of what they are developing. A product manager can build an understanding of the market, competitive dynamics and possible business opportunities.
For example a product could becoming to the end of their release and contract with a client. However a product manager may source other potential opportunities to resell the product or use it within other areas of their current business.
In addition to this a product manager can prioritise the project based on urgency, revenue potential, market dynamics and buying criteria. Providing continuous feedback on changing market conditions, or customer needs.
Product management is becoming increasingly popular due to the way in which product are now made and managed. A role allowing flexibility over control, decision-making across key business areas is needed to navigate the complex way in which products are designed, sold and managed.
This has produced an exciting career path for those who enjoy a diverse range of activities and challenges in their working life.