This article is a sequel to our popular post, Day in the Life of a Product Manager.
There are many different flavors of product management, especially since product manager responsibilities depend greatly on the industry, company, business model, and product.
Due to this variability, there is a wide range of day-to-day activities, but ultimately a product manager is still responsible for doing whatever it takes to collaborate with multiple teams and move different conversations towards closure.
That being said, there are a few general buckets of product managers, mostly based on business model and product ownership.
Below, we’ve provided an example of day-to-day activities for a business-to-business (B2B) product manager.
Generally speaking, a B2B product manager works on products that are sold to other businesses. It’s important for B2B product managers to realize that they actually have two different audiences to serve: the end user (e.g. an analyst for a data visualization product) vs. the decision maker (e.g. the head of IT, or the Chief Marketing Officer for an email marketing product).
To that end, the only constant in a product manager’s life is change, so take our example as only a slice of time rather than an exact set of activities that happens every single day.
6:30 AM: Wake up, exercise, and shower. I need to take care of myself so that I can take of our clients.
7:30 AM: Sign into my laptop at home and check for new feedback that I’ve received from clients and from customer success reps.
Different PMs have different perspectives, but I feel that starting my day with my clients’ pain points, complaints, and successes helps to guide me through the day, and reminds me that I am their advocate. The goal is to get a pulse on how our clients are doing, and what new themes are emerging as they deepen their relationship with us.
I purposely don’t check my other emails yet, since those can distract me from my goals for the day.
8:30 AM: Arrive at the office. While the consumer product team usually arrives around 10 AM, I’ve found that the peace and quiet helps to keep me focused.
I eat breakfast and review the 3 daily goals that I put together from last night for today; then, I read about industry trends and about product management in general. Never stop learning!
9:00AM: Stand up with the team. I always start stand up by reiterating the 3 main goals for the sprint. Then, I screen share my JIRA board (JIRA is a ticket management system) and go through progress and blockers for each developer and tester.
9:15 AM: We’ve just signed on a new client, and they will be onboarding onto our software today. I take this time between stand up and the onboarding meeting to review the onboarding flow.
9:30 AM: I’m joining the onboarding meeting remotely, while our customer success reps are on-site. It’s helpful for me to turn on my webcam and introduce myself, so that they can see a person behind the product and know that they are being well-represented in the company.
My role is to observe and understand what kinds of questions our clients have during onboarding, since those questions can reveal their mental model, their pain points, their processes and culture, and their competitive position within their industry. I also respond to any live bugs, hiccups, or product clarifications that are needed.
11:00 AM: I debrief quickly with the customer success reps to see whether there are any observations that I might have missed, and any suggestions for strengthening our onboarding process or any leave-behind materials that we can provide next time.
11:15 AM: Now I can look at the rest of my emails.
I apply Inbox Zero rules to my work email. The important part are the 5 possible actions: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.
While I’m not as strict as others (I do leave a couple of emails in my inbox throughout the day, and I only check my email once in the morning and once before I leave), my inbox accurately reflects how much mental load I currently have, and it is a good way for me to monitor whether we are taking on too much or not taking on enough.
11:45 AM: Later today, we have our Product Manager Sprint Review, to check for any dependencies between products, and to ensure that we continue to stay aligned with the broader business priorities.
I take this time to review any tickets where I am depending on others, and to comment on progress for tickets where others are depending on me and my team.
12:00 PM: I grab lunch from the cafeteria and make sure to sit away from my desk.
I chat with one of our IT managers about industry trends and client pain points, and how we can best upgrade our internal tools to meet those new challenges. Lunch is a great time to cross-pollinate ideas between departments who might never have the chance to formally work together.
1:00 PM: We conduct our Sprint Review across the PMs. Our Head of Product reiterates the goals: highlight the top priorities for this sprint, give insight into what next sprint looks like (but not ticket-by-ticket), and highlight and resolve any dependencies.
2:00 PM: I jump onto a sales call with a potential new client. Here, I listen in silently.
My goal is to understand what pains our prospects face, how they heard about us and/or how we brought them into the sales funnel, what points of our product are most attractive to prospects, and what sorts of hesitations they have in moving forward.
I add my learnings to my running document, so that I can consolidate these learnings and act on them. I’ll review this document once per sprint (for us, that’s every 2 weeks) and synthesize the learnings for our stakeholders.
3:00 PM: My designer and I sit down to work through the user experience flows for new features, which are slotted for future sprints. We want to make sure that we’re ahead of the development team from a design perspective, so that our flows are well-thought through.
After all, when you’re serving a client organization, you need to remember that they already have all of their internal processes crystallized. You need to fit in with how they work. The harder it is for them to understand your product’s flow, the harder it is for them to use it, love it, recommend it, and license it for additional years and additional users.
We identify a couple of places where the screens don’t flow well into one another. We’ll run paper mockups of these screens by a few of our most loyal users later in the week, and gather feedback on how we can make it flow smoother.
4:00 PM: I take my daily 15-minute walk, to clear up my mind. It will help with the upcoming task, which requires focus.
4:15 PM: I pull data from Google Analytics and from SQL on product usage. The data from SQL needs to be put into Excel to be turned into charts. These insights all go into our monthly stakeholder meeting across the various departments, so that we can highlight where we’re doing well, where we’re doing poorly, and how to keep growing the business.
5:45 PM: I review the day and check to see if I met the goals I had set for myself for the day. I log that feedback on myself into a Google Sheet. I then check my calendar for tomorrow, plan out my goals for tomorrow, and blocking off time where I need it to focus.
6:00 PM: Time to head home. I block out all of the time at home, so that I can fully focus on the next day.
Curious what the day-to-day looks like for other product managers? See what other product managers are working on in our Product Manager HQ Community.
Clement Kao is Co-Founder of Product Manager HQ. He was previously a Principal Product Manager at Blend, an enterprise technology company that is inventing a simpler and more transparent consumer lending experience while ensuring broader access for all types of borrowers.