What Does a Platform Product Manager Do?

Updated on June 14th, 2021
What Does a Platform Product Manager Do?

Platform product management is a lesser-known aspect of product management. Despite not many people knowing about it, it’s still a crucial part of an organization, and their demand is only increasing. That’s why you’ll notice a surge in the total number of platform product manager jobs in the market.

There are a lot of product management roles that product professionals can sign up for. However, taking the platform product manager role means that the person intends on working on the bigger picture.

That can include internal platform development or external, depending on the company, product lines, and the overall business goals.

In this article, we’ll go over what a platform product manager does, including their core responsibilities, skills, abilities, and more.

Let’s dive right in.

What Does a Platform Product Manager Do – Typical Roles in Organizations

Platform product managers (PPM) can play multiple roles within an organization. These roles vary as per the industry, product lines, and size of the company. In all cases, they need to work well with several groups and teams such as the development team, engineering team, core product teams, and other stakeholders.

Platform product managers have to deliver outcomes that will help businesses scale and reach their goals, since doing that is heavily reliant on how well they manage with different teams. One of their key roles is to be able to collaborate, communicate, and praise other teams.

Furthermore, since PPMs work on the strategic vision of multiple product lines, they need to be able to prioritize. Prioritization is crucial for platform product managers and they need to be able to approve and disapprove things, regardless of what other stakeholders want.

Here is some additional detail on the roles of a platform product manager:

  • Prioritization – Managing multiples teams and product lines means that there will be a lot of tasks, stakeholders, and scalability issues. Platform product managers need to set different sets of priorities for each case. At times, interacting with so many teams can get overwhelming, and that’s where platform PMs have to exercise their ability to approve or disprove requests, tasks, and more.
  • Away from End Users – Since platform product managers have a more backend role to play, they do not have much to do with the customer experience. While they can contribute to the user experience, they don’t have much control over it. That’s mostly because platform PMs don’t normally work on end-user functionality or the product roadmap.
  • Dependencies – Platform PMs need to ensure a cross-product vision rather than singling each product out.

Based on their roles, platform product managers have some distinct responsibilities, duties, and tasks.

What Does a Platform Product Manager Do – Duties and Tasks

The duties, responsibilities, and tasks of a platform product manager can vary depending on what roles they have. It also depends on the industry, number of products, number of product lines, and the organization itself.

However, there are a few duties and responsibilities that all platform product managers have to carry out, including the following:

  • Work on and assist in developing the product strategy, product vision, product roadmap, goals, and metrics
  • Help in the development of all customer-facing features by helping the relevant constituencies and teams
  • Convert the strategy and strategic initiatives into well-developed plans and objectives over different time frames
  • Prioritize work by approving and disproving various tasks, and help make prioritization tradeoffs more smooth
  • Assist the product team by adequately resourcing different tasks
  • Provide help and insight to the product team in developing a compelling product roadmap that’s based on the customer needs, strategic opportunities, and overall company resources
  • Work with the data science and finance teams to extrapolate the right metrics needed to measure the success of the product roadmap
  • Help work out the product function, including how it works and affects the various teams
  • Assist the co-founders and company professionals in developing a working business model if it’s a startup
  • Work along with the product development team to figure out how various software products would work with other products and services offered by the company
  • Categorize new products according to existing product lines
  • Develop inter-company communication and collaboration systems

There can be additional tasks, duties, and responsibilities of a platform product manager based on their organization and industry. For example, if it’s an e-commerce business, it may need to develop a system where multiple product lines can be managed simultaneously.

What Does a Platform Product Manager Do – Skills and Abilities

The skills, abilities, and qualifications of a platform product manager are usually the same across most industries. However, there are some industry-specific skills and qualifications requirements in some cases.

Other than that, some companies may require platform PMs to have additional skills to work with their products and services.

In any case, the following are some abilities, skills, and qualifications that all platform product managers should have:

  • Experience with qualitative data (user feedback, single-use cases) and quantitative data (metrics, analytics)
  • An understanding of product prioritization
  • Ability to write SQL queries and use data analysis tools and APIs
  • Collaborative skills to work with cross-functional teams
  • Advanced understanding of an organization’s strategic initiatives and objectives
  • Experience with shipping and managing developer-facing products for users
  • Complete understanding of various Microsoft Office tools, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Microsoft Project
  • Basic understanding of how e-commerce works
  • Understanding of the product function in platform product management
  • Knowledge of various pioneers in platform product management such as Silicon Valley startups, tech giants, and more
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, product management, business administration, logistics, or any equivalent and relevant field
  • A Master’s degree in the same fields. It isn’t necessary but improves your chances of getting hired. The same is true for being a P.hD
  • At least 2-4 years of experience in product management, project management, or program management is crucial
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Great communication and interpersonal skills to successfully work with various teams
  • Leadership and team management skills to manage multiple cross-functional teams and departments
  • Basic understanding of various programming languages. It’s not critical, but it’s better to have it

The skills, abilities, and qualifications listed above are what every platform product manager is expected to have.

How to Become a Platform Product Manager

A day in the life of a platform product manager will show you what you need to become one. It’s not as easy as one might think. A platform product manager’s salary should be enough evidence for that.

According to Glassdoor, the average platform product manager salary in the US is around $111,251. The typical salary range is between $80,000 and $155,000, with the higher end being offered in cities such as San Francisco and New York.

The salary tends to vary depending on the location, industry, and organization you’re working in. That’s because of the differences in the overall roles, responsibilities, and duties.

For example, in smaller organizations, a platform product manager will have additional roles and more responsibilities. Alternatively, larger organizations tend to delegate tasks, duties, and roles more efficiently, leaving specialized roles for platform product managers.

In any case, coming up to that level can take years of education and experience. If you’re looking to reach the position, you need to start learning about product management first. If you don’t have a degree in the field, you can start reading some product management books.

Once you have a good idea about it, you can opt for some product management certifications and courses.

After that, start your PM career in any organization. However, starting with a startup will be infinitely more valuable due to additional learning options.

Once you’ve been in the PM world for a while, you can apply to become a platform product manager.

Becoming a Great Platform Product Manager

If you’re already a product manager, you’re on the right track to becoming a decent platform product manager. Nevertheless, to go one step ahead, you will need to work on a few things.

That can include going back to school for graduate studies, doing more product manager certifications, or attending a platform PM bootcamp. In all cases, you have to continually learn and experience new aspects of the field to better understand it.

Don’t be limited by the job descriptions; continue learning more skills and abilities to become a great platform product manager.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.     What is a platform product manager?

A platform product manager is someone who’s responsible for creating functionality across several product lines. Their main objective is to understand the strategic vision of the products and make long and short-term trade-offs to improve the product lines.

Anything a platform PM builds, develops, or manages is used by multiple teams and customers. Some major examples can be operating systems, web services like Amazon APOs, operating environments, and other platforms.

2.     What does a platform manager do?

Platform managers tend to oversee the building, development, and management of any platform. Depending on the total number of product lines, products, and services, platform managers have to adjust their responsibilities and attention accordingly.

Their end goal is to help build and manage a platform where multiple products and services can be used, managed, and developed further.

3.     What makes a good platform product manager?

Any good platform product manager needs to have the necessary soft skills and technical skills needed to help develop a platform.

While their primary job is to manage the development, it’s also important for them to have the technical skills needed to understand how the development happens. It helps them evaluate the dependency of each product line while understanding the interdependencies among various products and services.

4.     What is a platform product?

A platform product is any set of products and services built on a similar architecture and process. It helps the business grow by allowing various product lines and products to follow a singular development nature. That ensures that there’s a connection between a company’s products and services.

As a result, the value of any product or platform doesn’t only come from its features but also from the product teams, tools, data, and internal stakeholders associated with them.

5.     What does a platform product team do?

The platform team consists of platform product managers, solutions product managers, and various product professionals. This team tends to build platforms, systems, and programs that are used within the company.

Ultimately, they assist cross-functional teams by building a platform where each team can collaborate, communicate, and share their work, assets, and knowledge.