What does a product manager do and which are their roles and responsibilities? Learn all about product management here.
How do you develop a product? To begin with, you need an idea about how the product will look in the end. Then you embark on a long process of product development that consumes a lot of time, effort, and teamwork. Most importantly, you need a product manager.
To turn an idea into a profitable product, a business has to go through several stages, including setting a vision, defining a strategy, developing the product, and selling it to the right people. This article delves into the details of product management, its main stages, the role and responsibilities of a product manager, and everything else you need to know about the process.
What is Product Management?
Product management refers to the process of developing a new product or upgrading an existing one for the market. Typically, the process starts with an idea for a product that will solve a problem your customers face and ends with analyzing the product’s success.
Product management combines business, product development, marketing, and sales. Various studies have proved that effective product management can increase a business’s profit by around 34.2 percent.
Two crucial aspects of product management are an effective product strategy and a product manager.
What is a Product Manager?
A project manager is that person whose responsibility is to create the internal and external product vision and ensure they are delivering a unique product in the market that addresses consumer needs and reflects a viable business opportunity. Another significant responsibility is ensuring the product holds the business’s overall strategy and goals.
What are the Major Roles and Responsibilities of a Product Manager?
The roles and responsibilities of a product manager will vary from organization to organization. Below, we have listed the significant roles and responsibilities that remain constant in most companies.
1. Responsibilities: Key Tasks
- Outlining the product vision, strategizing, and road-mapping.
- Collecting, assessing, and prioritizing consumer needs.
- Working together with marketing, sales, marketing, and client support teams to ensure business goals and customer satisfaction is achieved.
- Ideating the product based on customer requirements.
- Deciding the right niche space for a product launch and its market price.
- Developing business case studies for new products and improving existing products.
- Meeting product deadlines.
2. Role: Key Deliverables
Product managers are responsible for keeping track of everything that corresponds to a product, mainly the documents and presentations. Here is a list of the most well-known records the product managers should create and manage.
- Product Notes
- Business Case
- Product Roadmaps
- White Papers, Case Studies, Product Comparisons
- Competitor Analysis and Consumer Testimonials
- Spreadsheets of Collected Data
4 Stages of Product Management
The steps involved in product management runs from strategic to tactical. The entire process of product management can be broken down into four stages:
- Strategy Development
- Product Development
- Market and Sales
All these stages might include inbound and outbound activities. And the product manager is responsible for supervising the implementation of these activities.
Inbound activities focus on product development and include setting the vision, planning, product strategy, testing, product development, and product launch. On the other hand, outbound activities are aimed at marketing and selling the product. This included branding, sales, and analysis of customer feedback. It also comprises competitive differentiation, market research, positioning, pricing, customer communication, promotion and advertising, distribution and sales, and analytics.
A vital part of product management, vision acts as a road sign and a destination in your product management journey. It acts as a starting point, giving you a clear idea about the final product and showing you the right way to achieve it.
When developing a vision, a product manager will have to set goals for the product and define the specifications. A well-written product vision answers the following questions:
- What is your product’s target audience?
- Which problems will your product solve?
- How to measure the success of the product?
- Strategy Development
Once you have a vision in place, the next step is to translate it into a specific strategy. A vision defines the goal of a product, whereas the strategy describes the way to achieve them and helps you set the milestones.
An efficient product strategy covers the main features, target users, their needs, and the key performance indicators (KPIs) your product should meet.
The first step of strategy development is market research. This is where you collect information about the market and potential customers and analyze it to gain insights into your target audience’s spending habits and attitudes towards a similar product. A company could perform market research on its own or get help from an external source. You might also want to conduct secondary research to get a deeper insight into the wants and needs of customers and the possible pitfalls.
Another term that comes into play here is the strategic roadmap. Product strategy is often documented in a written roadmap form that allows the team to be in charge of work at all stages. A roadmap offers a framework for your product management team regarding the timeline, specific actions, illustrating the visions, goals, and the current state of product development.
There are different roadmap templates, and their formats depend on your product and the various aspects of product development. Nevertheless, all roadmaps must group the items by a sequence of their implementation. Roadmaps can be internal or external.
Internal roadmaps work at the company level. It depicts the vision, short- and long-term goals, and connected processes. Teams working at different stages of product development will be able to track the timeline and stay aware of the upcoming actions.
On the other hand, external roadmaps are less complicated and are for stakeholders or shareholders, potential and existing customers, and investors.
Once the strategy is ready, the product manager will have to communicate it to the product team and the stakeholders to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding the vision.
- Product Development
It is during this stage that the product team starts working on the product. Leveraging the vision and strategy, they build a new product or modify an existing one. The main stages of this phase include product development, internal and external testing, and adjusting the product according to customer feedback.
Throughout the product development and execution stage, a product manager will be in charge of implementing the roadmap and any other accompanying activities.
Product development begins with defining the technical specifications of the product, building the first prototypes, and a mockup design. While these activities come under the responsibilities of the UX team, a product manager can be involved in writing the technical specifications. He/she will have to identify the users’ needs and communicate them to the development team and project manager.
To achieve this, the product manager will conduct focus groups and personal interviews with potential customers. The results of these activities will help the product manager define what features are necessary and unnecessary.
The next major step is external testing, where the product manager is to define the minimum viable product (MVP) and ensure it serves its purpose. After releasing the MVP, the product manager should set up a feedback collection mechanism and gather feedback about the product based on user input.
Once the product is ready, the development team performs A/B testing to choose the product features that are the most useful to consumers to enable higher customer engagement. The product manager will define testing scenarios here along with a UX specialist here.
- Marketing and Sales
After the product is developed and ready for the market, it is time to spread awareness about it. During this stage, the marketing and launch plans should be finalized, and the sales team should be trained to start distribution. Throughout this process, the product manager delivers an operating plan that tracks the growth of a product in the market—the key customers, revenue, and ROI.
After the product enters the market, the product manager will continue analyzing its success depending on the number of users, sales, level of customer satisfaction, and customer feedback.
In smaller companies, the product manager might have more responsibilities during this stage. For instance, writing business and use cases, specifying the target market, configuring the product launch, defining the pricing strategy, and setting up sales support.
More than 30,000 new products are launched every year, and nearly 85 percent of them fail. While the reasons for this vary, the most significant reason is that the products aren’t thoroughly prepared for the market. Neglecting even a single aspect of the product development can result in financial losses. With the right level of product management, you can easily overcome such consequences and increase the chances of your product succeeding in the market.
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