Demystification: The Role of a Product Manager

Product Manager is such a vital and pivotal position that its job description can never really be well-defined. The responsibilities often vary from C – to – C; however, the key component is to ensure that the product supports the overall strategy and goals of the company. The PM aims to deliver a differentiated product to the market that focuses on the current market requirement and serves a potential business opportunity.  In many ways, the role of a PM is quite similar to a brand manager at a Consumer Packaged Goods Company.

15 years ago, Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware, entitled the Product Manager as the “CEO of the Product” and ever since then, they are often regarded with the same title.

PM provides the deep product expertise needed to lead the organization and make strategic product decisions. They analyze the market and competitive conditions, laying out a product vision and delivers a unique value-based product that sees to customer demands at large. The role spans from strategic to tactical activities and provides exceptional cross-functional leadership.  

The Product Manager is principally responsible for defining the “Why, When, and What” of the product that the technical team builds. This means that they lead the whole project i.e. from the conception of the product to its launch.  

The Core Competencies and Skills:

The core competencies are the fundamentals features any good Product Manager must possess. Some of them are learned in the classroom while others, we learn from our experience, role models, and mentors. These competencies include:

  1. conducting customer interviews and user testing
  2. running design sprints
  3. feature prioritization and road map planning
  4. resource allocation
  5. performing market assessments
  6. translating business-to-technical requirements and vice-versa
  7. pricing and revenue modeling
  8. defining and tracking success metrics
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The above competencies can be summed up as mentioned in the following picture.

Product Manager’s Skill Framework

These skills and core competencies form the baseline for any PM, and the best PM’s hone these over the years while defining, shipping and iterating on products.

Becoming a Product Manager is no easy task. It’s always been about what you bring to the table. And thus there are few points to be kept in mind to become one of the best PMs.

  • Be transparent about your prioritization and roadmap process
  • Be able to say “No”, yet explain why in terms that stakeholders understand
  • Be a ruthless prioritizer while balancing the needs of the customers and stakeholders
  • Bring evidence-based decision-making to your communication

Required Experience and Knowledge in the Role of Product Manager

PM exercise a wide range of skills and business processes to enhance the position of the product in the market. To call on these skills here is a list of what recruiters look for when filing for the role of Product Manager.

  • Demonstrated success in defining and launching products
  • First-rate written and verbal communication skills
  • Subject Matter expertise for a particular product.
  • Teamwork Skills
  • Proven ability to influence cross-functional teams

The criteria for the educational background is:

  • Bachelor degree in a particular domain (chances to get selected increase if the degree and the product industry are the same)
  • MBA or any additional certification

Being a PM provides one of the best training grounds for moving forward and upward into the roles like Vice president, General Manager, and CEO. It’s a pretty awesome role as you get work with talented engineers and development teams to create products that delight your customers, make a huge difference in your customers’ lives, and help achieve profits and strategic objectives that boost your company’s success.

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Know that if you a Product Manager, you play a principal role in your organization. You are placed in a unique position to define the success of your product and the concerning stakeholders and customers.

And Of course, when the job is done right, Product Managers have the best job on Earth.

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