Product Manager: The role and best practices for beginners

As such, product managers are well-served by excellent communication skills and the ability to engage constructively with many kinds of people. Depending on the size of the company, you’ll spend time with various cross-functional teams like sales, product marketing, and business development. You’ll also meet with your executive team to keep them up to date with your progress, or to pitch them on your vision for the product and for additional resources.

Insecure product managers might start making big, awkward public displays of their contributions (the product martyr). They might start speaking in gibberish to prove that product management is a real thing that is really complicated and important (the jargon jockey). They might even start devaluing their own work for the sake of showing that they could be doing higher-status work if they wanted to (the nostalgic engineer). I’ve often seen the role of product manager described as the “mini-CEO” of a product.

The Ultimate Guide to a Product Manager’s Job

Your success, and that of your product, relies on every team member. From sales to a developer, understanding that vision and being at least a little bit passionate about it as well is important. Pride yourself in becoming a thoughtful manager with a deep understanding of how to shape and ship products and sync stakeholders. As a product manager, you must know customer needs inside and out.

what does a product manager do

Unfortunately, most of the product managers I’ve seen act like a “mini-CEO” are more interested in the status of the role than they are in the responsibility. Product managers who walk in acting like a big boss almost always lose the respect of their team, and eventually find themselves powerless to actually meet their goals. Product management punishes arrogance with a swift and brutal justice that is…well, pretty great, actually. Working professionals looking to enter the field can easily rework their previous experience through a product management lens.

Launching and managing the product

Product managers are responsible for a variety of tasks throughout the development process. As such, to build a successful career in product management requires a wide range of skills. To uncover these problems, product managers must develop an intimate understanding of their customers, market trends, and competitors. One way product managers can fully understand how their products fit into the lives of their customers is by creating a journey map. This journey begins long before users start using their products.

what does a product manager do

Your team throw themselves into coming up with better designs, better code, and better solutions to the customers’ problem. Once you have a vision, you have to spread the word in your business. Get dogmatic, evangelical even, about the utopia that is your product. If you can’t get passionate about it, you’re in the wrong job or you didn’t come up with a very good vision.

Connect different stakeholders

Great PMs help their teams perform at a high level internally and across the organization. CareerFoundry is an online school for people looking to switch to a rewarding career in tech. Select a program, get paired with an expert mentor and tutor, and become a job-ready designer, developer, or analyst from scratch, or your money back.

Watching how users interact with a specific feature is like watching a beta testing without having to organize a synchronous session. The first step in a new iteration is to analyze the data (even better if you have access to product data and customer feedback). Knowing numbers and qualitative insights gives you more awareness regarding a product’s health and possible issues. But your task may not be as straightforward if you really want to understand the ins and outs of product management jobs. Now, let’s look at a quote from a product manager working in the financial sector (specifically, a banking alternative).

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As a long-tenured Atlassian, he has responsible for Confluence, trying to solve problems across all of Atlassian’s cloud products and establishing a new product incubator inside Atlassian. Sherif also played a key role in developing new products at Atlassian such as Stride, Team Calendars and Confluence Questions. Today, he leads product strategy for Atlassian’s newest product, Team Central. Sherif thinks building simple products is hard and so is writing a simple, short bio. For me, the really great product managers are one in a million.

  • Perhaps the greatest challenge of product management is that while product managers are responsible for the outcome of the product, they have very little actual power over the process.
  • After determining what product or feature needs to be built, the product manager can focus on create a product strategy.
  • You’re responsible for comprehensive specs for new features and products.
  • This Product Manager job description template is optimized for posting on online job boards or careers pages and is easy to customize for your company.
  • A business background will help them be ready to step into entry-level business and product roles.

And, if you’re reading about product management with your own career in mind, we’ll share some tips for how you can get started as a product manager. Empathy isn’t only for your customers—and neither is discovery. Spend time understanding how your product team works best and what individual employees’ strengths and stresses are.

Valuable ideas come from many places — individual inspiration, classical strategy, competitive analysis, offline analogs, and more — though teams require rigor to find ideas from all sources. Teams can struggle even more choosing amongst those options without a solid framework. For example, I’ve sat with several different teams trying to choose between creating an app, adding a B2B offering, going international, or just making the core product work better. If teams fail to solve tough questions, then either the team may work on unimportant problems and fail, or be told what to do by someone else, reducing the team’s autonomy and morale. The product manager guides a product or service through each stage of the product life cycle, and their day-to-day tasks will vary depending on what stage the product is at. The product manager must also “deeply understand and socialize the evolving needs of customers” in partnership with designers.

what does a product manager do

That said, it always helps to have some examples of questions you’ll likely be asked so that you can practice your answers. It’s best to practice them out loud, as well, instead of just reading or writing them. This job might not be for everyone, but like technical skills, these personality traits can be improved and honed with practice.



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