What is Product Management?

Updated on December 22nd, 2021
What is Product Management?

Product management is a field that has gained significant traction in the last several years. More and more businesses across the world understand that the proper management of their assets is key to promoting overall business growth and innovation.

According to the 2021 Product Plan's State of Product Management Report, interest in product management has doubled in the United States.

That said, people across the globe still struggle to understand what product management is. After all, product management remains an innovative domain that is in constant development.

In this post, we will break down what product management is. We will also discuss why it is an important area for many modern businesses.

If you're interested in learning more, watch the video below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

 

What is Product Management?

Product management is a practice that a company adopts to oversee a product's development and eventual launch. As a comprehensive field of management, product managers are responsible for the following disciplines:

  • Product Development
  • Product Planning
  • Customer Research
  • Product Forecasting
  • Product Pricing
  • Product Launch
  • Product Marketing

Product Management

Product management is different from project management. However, they are similar. Like the former, project management is a multi-dimensional branch of company leadership that encompasses several areas such as finance, marketing, strategy, and engineering.

What is Project Management

As a result, project managers coordinate all project resources like project staff members, contractors, or external consultants in order to successfully deliver projects on schedule and within budget.

As a result, project managers coordinate all project resources like project staff members, contractors, or external consultants in order to successfully deliver projects on schedule and within budget.

Because project management is such a broad area that encompasses so many moving parts, product managers usually end up juggling one or more hats at a time, all of which come with their own quirks that make these types of employees unique. As you can see in the diagram, project managers can take on a total of twelve roles within their field, ranging from the standard project manager position to other nuanced titles such as product quality manager, and sometimes even that of a product manager. While we will get into the differences between the product manager and project manager roles shortly, this just goes to show you the versatility of the project management field in touching on various subsets of management in a company.

What is Agile Product Management?

Agile product management is an approach that describes how teams create product strategies and product roadmaps in Agile companies.

Agile Product Development Approach

Credits: Educore

 

Agile product management is synonymous with traditional product management since most companies that practice the latter employ in Agile software development. However, there are some companies that practice different approaches to product creation. One classic example of such an approach is Kanban.

In any case, Agile product managers value speed, customer focus, continuous planning, and iteration over predictive estimates.

They realize that software development is a creative process where prediction is difficult if not impossible. This style of operational management may not necessarily work with other approaches to product creation.

Who is a Product Manager?

Product managers are at the center of the product development team. They are responsible for finalizing the product vision and making sure that everyone involved stays true to it throughout the entirety of the product roadmap.

Roles of a Product Manager

Credits: PloPDo

 

In doing so, product managers bear a number of responsibilities that are important to product development teams. These include:

  • Defining the overall product vision and its corresponding strategy.
  • Managing the entire product development process from ideation to product launch.
  • Being the central figure that coordinates activities done by both the product team and all relevant stakeholders.
  • Addressing customer feedback and prioritizing customer needs.
  • Prioritizing decisions and tasks undertaken throughout the product life cycle.

Product Management Responsibilities

Product Manager roles are now more diverse than ever in terms of specific responsibilities.

However, there are still some basic tasks that all product managers have to take on as part of the role.

Here are some of the main responsibilities of a product manager.

1. Customer Research

Detailed customer research is the cornerstone of any good product strategy. As a product manager, your job is to lead the product management team's research efforts in order to uncover useful insight that will help to craft a solid product strategy.

In order for any product to achieve maximum impact in its target market, it must solve an actual problem for the user. For that reason, product leaders must aim to understand the intricacies of the product market to whom they are serving. Best practices point to the need to conduct research on market trends and predictions that can be seen in a given product industry in order to better judge product market fit.

Market Research Methodology

It also entails gaining a deep understanding of your product users. To do so, product managers use different tools and strategies. However, in most cases, these strategies center around building buyer personas that shed insight on key details related to a given user that will condition how you approach creating product market fit.

Product managers create buyer personas once they have segmented their market based on the criteria that they find most appropriate. In practice, product managers prefer behavioral and psychographic segmentation since they provide you with the most quality information about a user's behavioral patterns and ways of thinking.

Once product managers have that information, they can then present it in the form of a buyer persona such as the one included below.

Example of Buyer Persona

Credits: Hootsuite Blog

 

Some product managers also combine buyer personas with other tools to gain an even greater understanding of their product users.

Empathy Map Template

Credits: NNGroup

 

Empathy maps such as the one seen in the image above serve that purpose.

2. Developing Product Strategy & Roadmap

All of your product management efforts will be null and void if you do not base them on a product strategy.

Product Strategy Framework

A strong product strategy involves developing a concise product vision that articulates the goal you hope your product will achieve. In doing so, the product strategy must aim to position the product in its target market in such a way that it maximizes its chances for success.

As a result, product managers anchor their respective strategies around addressing customer pain points by providing clear value to their target market. You will therefore use your industry knowledge to create practical objectives and goals for the product team. Once you have your product objectives and goals, you will then prioritize the decisions that your team makes based on the overall business strategy.

As a product management leader, you will also have to communicate the plan you've laid out for product development to the rest of the product team. In order to do that, product managers create product roadmaps. These roadmaps dictate the activities that will take place as well as who will be carrying out each one.

Below, you will see an example of such a product roadmap.

Example of Product Roadmap

Credits: Roadmunk

 

Please note that product roadmaps do not only serve to orient the product team on the product development process. They also help to communicate the product development process to investors, executives, and senior management. That way, all relevant parties will be on the same page.

3. Coordinating Product Development

Once you've built your product strategy and its respective product roadmap, product managers can then get the product development phase underway.

Product Development Framework

In product development, the product team will design, prototype, and build the product. In most organizations, the product manager will not be the one who does the hard labor in the design or development process. For that, a product manager relies on the help of UX designers, graphic designers, and software developers who will put in the hard work for them. Instead, the product manager has to coordinate all of the teams involved in product development to ensure that they are all working in an optimal fashion to meet the product goals.

In doing so, the role of a product manager calls for one to become a cross-functional leader that synchronizes the activities and operations that both the product and sales team does.

4. Analyzing Customer and Market Data

Once the product manager has launched the product, the time has come to analyze all new product data that comes in. On one hand, this will include data regarding the product's performance over a given period of time. On the other hand, it will also involve analyzing customer feedback and other product user data that will help the product team to improve upon their creation.

Data Analytics Model

Product managers accumulate data in one place and analyze it in order to gain valuable and actionable insight from it. In such cases, product managers may get help from a data analytics team member who will assist in the data collection and analysis efforts.

In case product managers have difficulty gaining easy access to the kind of data they need to improve product features, they may solicit direct feedback from prototype users, pre-launch testers, and developers.

If you're looking to sharpen your management skills to become a top product manager, then check out our product management certification courses.

Product Manager Certification

Product Management: Final Thoughts

Product management is one of the most lucrative fields in the world today. It is a haven for business growth, expansion, and revenue building. It is also an avenue for professionals to consider building a meaningful career that promises chances for you to climb up the ladder and prove yourself as a product leader.

Be sure to check out platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Product Manager HQ, and Job Today to check out the latest job opportunities.

Don't forget to check out our Product Manager HQ Product Management Course to stay up to date with the latest frameworks and approaches used to succeed in this competitive field.