A product manager’s role is increasingly recognized as one of the critical roles for the success of a company. Some organizations view it as a grab bag of tasks which no one else wants to do whereas others view it as the glue that binds the remaining cross functional organizations and keeps the wheels moving. Whichever way one looks at it, the product manager is the first person a customer reaches out to or the CEO asks if there are any questions. Some say, the product manager is the CEO of the product.
So, what should a product manager do and what skill sets should he/she possess to become a successful product manager? Here is a quick insight into key traits of a product manager, expectations from a product manager, the priorities and some tips for success.
Key traits of a Product Manager:
The key traits of a product manager are:
1. Business sense – understanding and keeping up to date with how the business works, how are the markets trending, how does the competitive and technology landscape look, what factors drive movement in either direction.
2. Creativity – in solving problems for customers both short term and long term; ability to think on the feet in creating sustainable solutions with minimal resources
3. Communication – excellent verbal and written communication skills to be able to influence the rest of the world.
What are Product Managers expected to do?
The primary expectation of the product manager is to build the right product that will drive customer success and company’s success. They are expected to create solutions that customers love and eventually increase revenues for the growth of the business. Product Managers are also expected to sell their idea/vision to multiple stakeholders throughout the organizational hierarchy from the CEO to engineer. The role and responsibilities vary based on the org structure, vertical, platform or consumer facing product and size of the company. At the core essence of the role, product managers are expected to be very good planners with a lot of attention to details.
Top 3 priorities of a Product Manager
A typical product manager is juggling with many things at once. The below 3 tasks give a glimpse into his/her world. It’s hard to prioritize among the below 3 tasks as all of them are equally important.
1. Always be triangulating and prioritizing – A product manager is the synthesizer of all ideas! PMs get inputs from various sources whether they like it or not. It’s the job of a product manager to synthesize all inputs and constantly prioritize them.
2. Always be shipping – It’s important to get something out the door into the hands of the customers instead of planning and analyzing forever. At a macro level, a product manager needs to be constantly managing past, current and future releases all at the same time i.e. checking up on how the just launched features are doing in the market, aggressively prioritizing current list of features and planning for the next set of releases in alignment with business and markets.
3. Always be validating – get customer feedback often and throughout the process. Even after launch, always be in demo mode.
Tips for success
1. “Answers don’t lie in the building”. Product Managers need to go out and talk to users and understand pain points first hand.
2. Data driven – Product Managers must use data to justify their recommendations and also keep discussions unbiased while creating plans or strategies.
3. Ownership – the buck stops with the product manager. No other role has a complete view of the product for success than that of a Product Manager’s. Taking complete responsibility and yet giving credit to all teams goes a long way.
Some excerpts were published in an interview with productnation.in