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What Is a Product Manager?
5 mins read

Product Manager

What Is a Product Manager?

Definition of a Product Manager

A product manager is responsible for the success of a product. To achieve that goal, the cross-functional team must be instructed on all measures that need to be taken to deliver the best possible product to the market.

The product manager has profound knowledge on the developed product and everything that goes with it.

Working at the interface of top-level management, sales and distribution, product development and quality assurance, the product manager coordinates all decision-making processes and concentrates on the strategic realization of the product vision.

What is Product Management?

Product management, depending on the company’s size and industry, has a variety of functions and roles. Another popular term is brand management, which has been a cutting-edge concept since the early 20th century to first recognize the benefit of delegating ownership of a product to a specified role. This conception drives the idea of product management today. 

To practice great product management, it is essential to understand customer requirements and the product’s capability to compete on the market. The product manager strategically translates these insights into planning actions to improve the product’s performance and build its road to success. 

Irrespective of the classification of the product, one can differentiate between inbound and outbound product management or up- and downstream management.

Talking about inbound product management, it refers to product development versus outbound product management, meaning product marketing.

There are many theories and approaches on how to define product management, yet it always breaks down to a combination of creating and improving a product plus communicating, promoting and distributing the product. 

In many organizations, the product manager is to a great extent involved in both.

What does a product manager do?

Responsibilities the product manager shares with the development team including engineers, testers, designers, and stakeholders within product development include:

 Strategy

Having a bold and unique vision that yields long-term results is the dream of any product manager and stakeholder. To realize this, there is a lot of work and talent involved. Strategically leading a product to success starts with the product vision.

It sets the direction of the product and is referred to at any decisions to be made about the product. Creating a product vision takes prior research on customer demands and market competition as well as a strong understanding of market potential.

Delivery

To release a product or feature, there has been a lot of ground work put into the process by the product manager.

Ultimately, the development team works on assignments that lead to a completed product that is ready for release. In order to assure an effective workflow and a sense of purpose the product manager must determine feasibility, define requirements, detect dependencies, prioritizing, map out roadmap and project plan, align activities and test results.

Methodology

The product manager proposes operational procedures and consults with the development team about the work routine and methods that they require to deliver most effectively.

Different methods entail other roles that take over this process and support the product manager by managing and facilitating the execution under given conditions.

To give an example, when using the Scrum framework, hiring a product owner and as the case may be a Scrum Master would be an option.

Responsibilities of marketing the product manager typically shares under certain circumstances with the product marketing manager:

Branding

First things first: The importance of naming, branding and if necessary rebranding should not be disregarded. It is what helps the market, the customer and the contributors to understand the product.

Besides the look and name of the product, branding includes brand association, awareness, personality, and attitude. Together they thread a consistent image to establish a relationship and emotional connection with the consumer.

Communication

Communication is a two-way street. On the one side, the product manager pushes the message the product is meant to convey through advertisement, press, and events.

On the other side, the product manager must capture customer feedback and provide appropriate services that help the customer access and approach the product in the most satisfying way. That can be customer service, demos, guides, and other aids.

Analysis

In order to take make proactive decisions, the product manager must respond to a changing market and evolving demands. By monitoring the competition, conducting market research and product differentiation, the product manager reevaluates the product vision and supports decision-making processes.

What Methods and Technologies should a Product Manager use?

Since the technology stack of product managers and applied methods can look completely different, it is beneficial to thoroughly explore potential tools to find the most suitable one regarding individual needs. 

To get started airfocus.com offers ready-to-use templates.

Usually the infrastructure of a company already determines certain ways of communication and use of tools. 

Nevertheless a special task force has special requirements they look for in a tool to successfully translate all processes. That’s why integrating them to attain a combined tool stack is key for well working operations. 

Airfocus.com helps speeding up the workflow by synchronizing processes content to collaborate as a team. 

While having the work environments of a cross-functional team integrated is nice but not a must, most important is to figure out what product managers want to get out of product management tailored tools and how it can benefit their workflow.

The above mentioned responsibilities all focus on the product manager having a vision, overview and plan of a product and its life cycle. 

A huge focal point is prioritization and the creation of roadmaps. There are different methods to do that and recommended to include the following steps:

Documentation

The first step is writing everything down. As simple as this may sound, this can easily become complicated, chaotic and overwhelming. Advisable is to follow a structure and have a framework on how this can be done sustainably. The documentation should be handled like a blueprint and include all important information from goals, dependencies to prioritization. The most common way in product management is to create roadmaps. 

Visualization

The next step is to find a way to effectively work with laid out plan. The best way is to visualize the data, meaning creating a board, a chart or any visual aid to get an overview of what needs to be paid attention to. 

With airfocus.com one can create presentation-ready roadmaps and have all the important information in one place. SCREENSHOT/LINK

Communication

Having done all this great work follows sharing it with the team. This includes more than giving a quick sneak peek into it, but presenting, explaining and debating it with the team or eventually granting access to it.

Sharing priorities and roadmaps created on airfocus.com enables stakeholders to give feedback and team members to always check-up on changes and the possibility to refer to it during their development process.

General FAQ

How to become a product manager?
There are multiple ways a person can become a product manager. The clearest path to becoming a product manager is by taking an accreditate product management class and by having some experience in the field. Often employees become product managers by climbing the job ladder.
How much does a product manager make?
According to Glassdoor a product manager's salary can range between $61.000 to $200.000 depending on the experience, skills and performance.
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