What is a product manager? A complex, cross-functional role in IT

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Product manager definition

A product manager fulfills a complex role that blends soft and hard skills in an effort to manage requirements and deliver quality products that align with business goals. A product manager acts as the point person throughout a software, hardware, or service product’s lifecycle. It is a role that requires you to balance input, concerns, and feedback from multiple departments, key stakeholders, business leaders, customers, and clients.

Product manager job description

To succeed in their role, product managers must understand the market, audience, and demand for a particular software, hardware, or service product. They must also have a deep understanding of technology and business in order to know which products are worth developing and how they’ll directly impact the business. Product managers must lean on their communication and collaboration skills in making tough decisions and getting everyone on their teams on the same page when it comes to finding the right balance between user experience, technology, and business goals. Whether it’s an internal or external product, product managers are responsible for understanding everyone’s needs and expectations and then translating that across departments. They need the ability to understand several perspectives in the development process, including the needs of the user, capabilities of the developers, the vision of the stakeholders, and where the product stands in the market from a competitive standpoint.

Product manager responsibilities

Product management is a complex role that requires the skills to communicate across departments and unite everyone involved in bringing a product to market. When developing a new product, product managers need interview users, stakeholders, and business leaders to understand everyone’s key priorities, capabilities, limitations, and overall vision.

As a product manager, you’ll become a point person for any questions, concerns, or issues that might arise during the development process. Beyond that, responsibilities vary depending on the products you work on and where you work. Some of the most common responsibilities for product managers include:

  • Meeting with customers and clients to determine product requirements
  • Monitoring the development process
  • Establishing pricing models
  • Building and managing product roadmaps
  • Creating business plans for new products
  • Reviewing and correcting implementation strategies
  • Training support teams
  • Finding ways to adapt new technologies
  • Monitoring industry trends
  • Understanding potential challenges, risks, and hurdles
  • Requirements elicitation and testing
  • Agile software development
  • Requirements analysis
  • SQL and business strategy

Product manager skills

Communication is one of the most important skills for this role. You will need to know how to drive conversations, when to say no, and how to keep everyone involved on task and on the right trajectory. You will also need the ability to prioritize and make quick decisions. Another key skill for product managers is knowledge of the Design Thinking Process, an approach that applies a practical lens to figuring out how problems can be solved via design.

The five key steps to Design Thinking Process are to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. These steps bring structure to product management but also outline key skills product managers must have to succeed: They must be empathetic problem-solvers capable of defining problems, viewing those problems from multiple perspectives, and brainstorming myriad solutions for prototyping and testing.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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