· 5 min read ·
I have been working in product management for over a decade now. My cross functional colleagues often ask me “What do you guys do all day! (besides running from one meeting to another…lol..guilty as charged). It is true that as a product manager you spend a lot of time in meetings- some fun and others not so much. But there is much more to the exciting world of product management than meetings.
A product manager’s primary focus is to define:
After defining these they work with the engineering to team figure out “How” to accomplish it. They do not own the “How” but are a key stakeholder in it.
Product managers tackle unique and interesting challenges each day. If you are new to product management or contemplating a role in it or want to know what a PM does all day, read on!
It is important to have a pulse on the market and stay in sync with the latest trends in the industry. Market research includes looking at new products in the market or what the competition has been upto. This is accomplished by looking at:
Market research is not limited to direct competition. Product managers are always on the lookout for signs from across the technology landscape that impact the way customers perceive their products or solutions.
Product managers collaborate with design and marketing counterparts to run focus groups. This is a great way to keep in touch with users. Scheduling focus groups on a regular cadence helps them learn about the challenges faced by their users. It also helps them test whether the value proposition of the product still holds with the changing face of the business.
Following the data is important for not only product managers but everyone in an organisation. A data driven culture drives innovation and is critical to the success of any product. But the truth is that you will never have all the data you need to make decisions. In smaller organisations where you don’t have dedicated data analytics teams to support you it can be challenging to find all the data points. Product managers should always try to back their intuition with as much relevant data as possible. In cases where you can’t find the data make sure to state the assumptions that you’re making so that you can come back at a later time and validate them.
Not all features are equal. They vary on the time it takes to build them and impact on the business. I usually develop a one pager for all the product features under consideration. It describes:
One of the most common things you will hear a product manager say is “ Product Roadmaps are always subject to changes”. The goal is to be able to plan and have a firm roadmap in place for 3-6-12 months. But there are always new things that come up, or old things that need fixing. They need to be accommodated in the roadmap. Hence the product team spends a considerable time evaluating and stack ranking all product development initiatives. This makes sure that we are investing in areas that are important for the business. It can often be the most frustrating part of being a product manager. At the same time it is critical to the success of the organisation and requires consistent effort.
Breaking down user problems into improvements that the development team works on is a big part of product management. Many product managers spend a lot of time writing users stories to define features that solve user problems. Depending on the size of the feature it is common to break them into a set of epics and user stories. These are further broken down into smaller development tasks by the engineering team.
During the initial stages when potential solutions are being considered I find it useful to come up with low fidelity mockups. This can be as simple as a rough sketch on a piece. It helps the team understand and contribute to the development of the final solution for the users. It also helps in having fruitful discussions with the design team. Balsamiq and Invision have easy to use features which can help you come up with a wireframe to iteration. You don’t need to invest to create detailed mockups.
This meetings serves many purposes. For new features this is the handoff or passing the baton to the development team. The goal is to go through the requirements with the development team so that everyone understands the acceptance criteria for each story. These meetings can often get derailed. Product managers need to clear on the agenda and expected outcomes of these meetings.
Not every feature you release will be A/B tested. You will need to identify and prioritize features that need to be A/B tested. Before starting a test it is important to have an A/B test plan with:
In my experience A/B testing is more prevalent for B2C products than B2B. For B2B focussed products a beta version of the product is released to a smaller group of customers and feedback is collected by talking to them.
Product managers need to communicate and keep all stakeholders updated on the progress of the product roadmap. Sales, Marketing, Development and Customer Success teams are some of the common key internal stakeholders in most companies. There are various ways you can communicate:
There are so many other things that product managers do. This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list of everything a product manager does. We will cover more things in future blog posts. In the meantime if there is anything in particular that you’d like us to write about or have feedback on do let us know.