What Does a Software Product Manager Do?

Updated on January 14th, 2021
What Does a Software Product Manager Do?

The product management world relies on teams of product people working in unison towards to central goal. That’s why each product person needs to know exactly what they have to do and how. However, some product professionals like software product managers may have slightly different duties and tasks, depending on their organization and industry.

Most product managers tend to have the same responsibilities for the most part. They work with typical product management software and management tools. However, software product managers need to have solid PM skills, abilities, and knowledge for their tasks and to complete their responsibilities.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look into the roles, duties, and abilities of a software product manager.

Let’s dive right in.

What Does a Software Product Manager Do? Typical Roles in Organizations

A software product manager heads and manages the software product management department. They oversee and overview the specialization, goals, structure, and expectations of the software product. That also includes the planning and monitoring required for producing the ideal software.

On average, the software product manager has the same roles as a typical product manager. However, that may change in different organizations and industries. In any case, the typical roles of any software product manager include the following.

  • Ideation – Software product managers need to have a well-developed creative process that helps them generate, develop, and curate new ideas. They should determine the ideas that should be worked on, promoted, or pushed to help the company strategize better. That’s why they also have to take in feedback and requests regarding the product strategy and product development process.
  • Strategy – They also have to work on the product strategy by bringing the product vision to light. The idea is to bring the business value of the software product based on a well-designed product roadmap that takes all the strategic goals into account.
  • Releases – One of the most important parts of the software product manager’s job is to keep a hold on the timeline for implementation and the delivery schedules.
  • Features – Lastly, the software product manager has to compare and contrast all the possible features of the software and prioritize and rank them with regard to the strategic goals. Based on customer feedback, product requirements, and stakeholder preferences, they have to define the best features for the software.

In any case, building great software requires the software product manager to play all their ideation, strategy, and feature implementation roles at the same time. Most importantly, software product managers need to keep the product team, scrum team, engineering team, and development team in check.

Duties and Tasks of a Software PM

Software product managers need to have a working knowledge of multiple things, including product management, project management, software development, product marketing, and more. Their roles and responsibilities largely depend on the industry, organization, and software they’re working on.

In any case, their primary goal is to ensure that the software works up to its strategic goals and that the cross-functional teams are working well.

The following duties, tasks, and responsibilities are what the typical software product manager has to manage.

  1. The software product manager has to completely oversee and manage the software development lifecycle.
  2. Work with the market research and management teams to work on the discovery phase.
  3. Collaborate with the product owner to develop a product vision for the new product.
  4. Analyze the complete competitive landscape to see what competitors are doing in the market.
  5. Figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors and use them to make a great product.
  6. Analyze trend reports, industry content, market statistics, sales data, user stories, mockups, and metrics to come up with a working strategy.
  7. Manage the development process and the team members to ensure a quick and efficient product launch.
  8. Manage the workflow of the marketing and sales teams.
  9. Develop a complete product requirements document and some templates for reference.
  10. Work on the prioritization of new features based on usability, functionality, and user experience.
  11. Help figure out a proper pricing model based on what other tech companies and startups are charging for similar software.
  12. Maintain a complete backlog of all the activities, processes, and workflows of all the relevant teams, stakeholders, and any external influencers and consultants.

The duties, tasks, and responsibilities listed above summarize the software product manager job description. However, some organizations and industries may have slightly different responsibilities.

Skills and Abilities of Successful Software PMs

Software product managers can have varying responsibilities and duties based on their organization and industry. That’s why the skills, abilities, and qualifications required can change drastically depending on where you work.

However, software product managers are still product managers by nature; therefore, there are some typical abilities that all software product managers are expected to have.

In any case, the following qualifications, skills, and abilities are what is expected from all software product managers.

  • A bachelor’s degree in software development, computer science, or product management, or a related field.
  • A master’s degree is preferred but not necessary in most cases.
  • Proven work experience as a product manager, software developer, or project manager is required. Typically, you should have at least 5-10 years of experience in a relevant company.
  • Certifications from reputable institutions and associations in product management or software-related fields help.
  • It’s crucial to have extensive knowledge of various product functions, the software development process, and the all-things product management.
  • The software product manager should be able to work with an agile methodology.
  • Should be familiar with critical product concepts, such as the MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
  • They should be able to manage and participate in the Daily Scrum and Sprint Planning.
  • A deep understanding of the product vision, product launch, and other concepts is required.
  • They need to have excellent communication skills for effective stakeholder communication. That includes working with cross-functional teams and managing all of them simultaneously.
  • It’s absolutely necessary for them to have great interpersonal, problem-solving, analytical, and research skills.
  • They need to be able to develop status reports for external and executive stakeholders.

The skills, qualifications, and abilities listed above are what most organizations expect from software product managers, regardless of the industry. However, you will find some industry and organization-specific requirements in most cases.

How to Become a Software Product Manager

According to Glassdoor, the average software product manager salary in the United States can be rounded up to $108,992. The typical salary range is between $71,000 and $146,000, with the higher end being offered in major cities like San Francisco and New York.

In any case, the software product manager's salary tends to vary depending on the region, industry, and organization. The largest determining factor is a mixture of the industry and the kind of software. For example, a SaaS startup with single-purpose software wouldn’t be paying their software product manager much.

However, large tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, or Trello would be paying their software product managers more because of the complexity of their software and their overall market share.

Product management is a field that usually requires individuals to have a lot of experience. You need to understand all the relevant product processes, methodologies, functions, and concepts involved for starters.

That means you should be familiar with agile methodology and scrum. However, software product managers need to be one step above. They would also need to know about frameworks like Kanban. Similarly, they would be expected to know their way around software like Jira to manage said software product.

Ideally, you should start by getting a relevant bachelor’s degree or diploma to get started. However, some organizations don’t consider it necessary if you have the necessary certifications. Getting certified from accredited institutes can get you a product manager job, and getting enough experience afterward can help you towards becoming a software product manager.

Most importantly, since you’ll be dealing with software and various developers, coders, and computer experts, it’s essential for you to have a basic understanding of it all too. Therefore, it’s best to also do some courses on all-things software. Meanwhile, you can check out some of our product manager certifications.

Product Manager Certification

Becoming a Great Software Product Manager

Becoming a great software product manager is a relatively long but straightforward process. You have to ensure that you have all the relevant knowledge of both ends of the spectrum. That means you should know all product management concepts, functions, and processes at all times. Similarly, depending on your industry, you should understand the relevant software-related functions to get a better idea of the product.

Ideally, the software product manager should have ample knowledge of both sides to work with developer teams and the product management team. In some companies, software product managers and technical product managers have the same job description. However, that primarily depends on the industry and organization.

In any case, software product managers are expected to be able to develop a product vision, manage all product teams, and oversee the software’s distribution into the general market.