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The 3 Key Responsibilities of Product Managers

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We spoke about the responsibilities of a product manager in our article What Exactly Are a Product Manager’s Responsibilities?. When diving into this topic however it’s important to note that everything that a product manager does can be categorized into the following 3.

1. Remaining customer focused

Customer empathy is one of the most important traits that product managers need to have.

Product managers need to be able to place themselves into the shoes of their customers to understand their pain points. 

Along with knowing who their customers are (name, age, aspirations, budget, etc.) they can articulate the key problems that they face, why solving these problems are important, and how their customers plan to grow with the product.

Product managers also maintain a close relationship with their customers because they rely on them to succeed in their role.

As product managers work through the product development process customers assist them with:

  • Research and discovery: do we understand the problem correctly?

  • Validating their work: are we on the right track?

  • Gathering feedback: is this actually assisting customers with accomplishing their goals?

2. Making data driven decisions

Product managers rely on qualitative and quantitative data to make decisions that will drive customer and business impact. 

Data is heavily relied upon because it provides clarity on what is happening and what the next course of action should be. 

While product managers are responsible for defining the “what” and the “why” of the solutions that they build with their teams, they can do this with clarity and confidence when they have access to data.

How does a product manager decide whether they should spend time fixing a set of bugs vs. working on a minor enhancement for a customer? With data. 

Product managers also rely on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of their work. A KPI is used to evaluate whether a product is reaching its goals or not. 

One important thing to note is that product managers are often graded by whether they meet their target KPIs.

However accomplishing this is a team effort. This means that if KPIs are missed it may not be 100% the product manager’s fault, other stakeholders are involved in product and business success.

3. Managing stakeholders

A stakeholder is anyone who has direct or indirect influence on a product. 

Internal stakeholders are the individuals inside of a company. For example members of the senior management team, designers, and developers. 

External stakeholders are those who can influence the product however they do not work within the company. These include customers, industry analysts, trade unions, and development agencies.

Stakeholder management is not limited to knowing who your key stakeholders are and their roles, it includes everything that is required to work effectively with them to reach product and business success.

This includes influencing stakeholders and enabling them to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.

When key stakeholders are happy and enabled to perform their jobs then this increases the likelihood of the product reaching its goals, and in turn the company reaching its goals. 

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