What Does a Product Manager Do?
[Noah’s note: I did product management for Facebook and it was something I never heard about in college. I met Will and asked if he could explain it for everyone.]
So you ask, what in the world does a product manager do anyways? Seems like a pretty straightforward question, right? If it was only that simple…
For starters, I work for a large internet company doing product management for our social networking group. Being a product manager means it is your responsibility to deliver top quality products that your target demographic loves, embraces, encourages their friends to use and cannot live without. And when you make quality products it makes it becomes easy to market the product.
Being a good product manager is a lot easier said than done. A lot of product managers fail to be good instead they are really bad. Really bad product managers lead to a lot of other really bad things: missing the target demographic with the product, wrong product being built, or even worse, never delivering the product they set out to build. All of these things have a negative impact on the company, in the form of lost revenue, bad morale and tarnishing the company reputation. Here’s how to make your employees love your company.
So enough on being a bad product manager, let’s focus on how to be a great product manager. So you may ask yourself, what do I need to live and breathe by in order to be a truly effective product manager? Well, that is the point of this article, so I will get right to it. Here’s how to be a good product manager and a bit about what I do:
- Act as the CEO of the product just like a CEO drives the vision of their company and the ultimate success or failure of the company, you too drive the vision and success or failure of your product. After all, it is your product, so own it!
- Sweat the small stuff (and of course the big stuff too) you must understand every aspect of the product, from company goals and objectives for the product, the market in which you are playing, who your competition is, as well as recognizing what you do not know. It is an absolute must that you can conjure up this information at the drop of a hat; you never know when you are going to need it.
- Produce clearly defined product requirements OK, this will go a long way in winning you brownie points with your development team. Make sure you clearly articulate what you want the product to be (in writing or course). Otherwise you may find yourself in the situation of wanting to build a car, describing a motorcycle and getting a tricycle (get the point, be very, very clear on what it is you want).
- Customers First remember, your customers will make or break your product. If you do not build what they love, embrace and cannot live without, your probability for success will dramatically decrease. Listen to them, take their feedback and incorporate it into the product. You will thank yourself later for listening to them.
- Jack of all trades, master of … ALL so you are going to be the CEO of your product, but you need certain skills to navigate the waters. First and foremost, you need to be extremely disciplined in everything you do. You need to possess great time management and have a knack for identifying what is important, prioritizing those things, and executing on them.
- Keep people accountable of their progress. This doesn’t need explaining, but your team will thank you for helping them manage their own deadlines so they don’t get overwhelmed at the end.
That’s it, enough said. It is a great career, but like anything else, it is what you make it. I have chosen to make the most of it and I enjoy everyday of it!