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Product Manager: Strategist and Superhero of Software Development

Updated: Dec 8, 2021


In this article, we'll talk about the daily responsibilities of the Product Manager required for performing typical work on product development management. This is the continuation of the article «Product Manager: a Secret Weapon for Product Development Business», in which I defined this role and its responsibility to the business at the strategic and tactical level. I'd like to remind you of the main conclusions from the previous article.

  • A Product Manager role primarily is the only one who takes full responsibility for determining exactly what kind of product the development team will have to build.

  • Ultimately the Product Manager is responsible for delivering successful products to the market, based on the winning strategy that he has defined.

Knowledge Domains

In order to arrange all available types of work of our superhero, let's consider knowledge domains, in which the ideal Product Manager must have a competence.

  1. MARKETING. Knowledge of the market, its dynamics, and capabilities, also the ability to determine the product strategy in the market.

  2. COMPETITORS. Analysis of competitors, features of their products, and their current business condition.

  3. CUSTOMERS. Knowing one’s users and customers, understanding their problems and needs.

  4. UX. Mastery of techniques for rapid prototyping and validation of ideas about user preferences.

  5. DEVELOPMENT. Understanding the principles of product development, knowledge of product development lifecycle, experience to define tasks for execution, and verify their implementation.

  6. TECHNOLOGIES. Be familiar with the stack of technologies used in the development, understand the high-level architecture design, and the specifics of the technical implementation that affects product performance.

  7. BUSINESS. Be able to plan in the short and long term, to lead the team, to measure the productivity and efficiency of the product, to calculate the profit and costs.

  8. SALES. Skill to correctly determine sales channels, price, positioning, advertising, and target audience of the product.

As we see product management is a multidisciplinary activity. For a comprehensive understanding of all duties of the Product Manager, I created a map of typical Product Manager’s tasks indicating which knowledge domain the activity belongs to. I had to come up with a name and I called it a PRODUCT MANAGER DUTIES MAP.

Product management

Tasks and Responsibilities

In carrying out its daily routines the Product Manager can perform a lot of activities, bearing responsibility for different aspects of the product development depending on the current stage of the product development process and his position in the company. And now let's reassess all kinds of tasks that the Product Manager can theoretically perform.

4P planning. The strategy of marketing planning developed on the basis of the 4P concept: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. This is required in order to increase the perceived value of the proposed product.

Market research. Search and analysis of information about market trends, expectations of users from other products. This is required to update on time, to solve urgent problems, also to make strategic planning for product development and assessment of the improvements attractiveness.

Strategy elaboration. Analyzing the current state of the business and predict future actions to achieve the goal of improving the product according to customer needs. This is necessary in order to determine the target audience, the product vision, partners and investors, calculate the market share, and, most importantly, create a unique selling point.

Competitor analysis. Tracking new opportunities in competing products and satisfying users from them. This is required to borrow what works and not invest in what is not working, to understand the needs and preferences of users, and satisfy them better than competitors.

Feedback handling. Gathering and analyzing qualitative and quantitative feedback from customers. To understand how users interact with the product quantitative research is needed and in order to understand why users behave in this way qualitative research is needed. Without this knowledge of customers, the Product Manager will have to guess and this will not allow him to make the right decisions.

Customer development. Deep knowledge and understanding of actual users and customers. The competence to properly define the appropriate target audience of the product, identify the key problems of customers, and come up with a good solution that will solve these problems. This is necessary to test our theories as quickly and cheaply as possible in order to provide customers with just the solution that they really need.

UX & A/B testing. Testing various GUI options and user scenarios in different groups of users, as well as personal communication with end-users and feedback gathering. This is required in order to verify a hypothesis about the feature effectiveness or the user experience improvement.

UX design. A User Experience design means both interaction design and visual design. To come up with good user experience, product ideas should be tested on real target users. This is necessary to verify and validate usability, desirability, and feasibility before proceeding with the development.

Design definition. A clear description of the product concept. Knowledge and guidance of design patterns. Prototyping as a capability to create visual mockups that can effectively express ideas. This is required in order to create a short and effective feedback loop between the generation of ideas and implementation.

Requirements elaboration. A more detailed formulation of how a new feature, use case, user story, prototypes, etc. should look. This is necessary that the development team has a clear vision of what needs to be done.

Architecture coordination. Understanding the technical feasibility of the product. Helping to focus the team's attention on good ideas that can be realized and open the door for technical breakthroughs. This is required to choose the most functional and rational solution.

Release planning. Planning new releases and filling them with business-critical tasks. This is necessary for the plans set out in the roadmap to be implemented.

Roadmap maintenance. Long-term product development planning based on the vision of business development. It presents approximate content and release date of updates. This is necessary to make sure that the direction of product development coincides with the business plans and keep all the stakeholders interested in the case.

Team Leading. Set clear goals, measure progress, and interact with the team. This is necessary to inspire people, to track the process on the way to achieving the goal so that everyone is focused on achieving common goals — something the team believes in and wants to achieve.

Impact tracking. Analysis of key metrics (NPS, conversion, daily active users, etc.) and the impact of updates on them. Analysis of the usage of the new features. This is required to make sure the work is done efficiently.

P&L evaluation. Analysis of the potential effect of a new or improved functional, bringing it to quantitative indicators and comparing it with development costs. This is necessary in order to work on what brings money or other benefits.

Stark Reality

While software products are becoming easier for customers, management of development, production, and sales are becoming increasingly difficult for the business. Product life cycles are also becoming more complex: new features, frequent improvements, upgrades of functional during operation, changes in the product ecosystem, and the increasing dependence of business on software. This led to the emergence of a new discipline — product management — and it identifies the new role of Product Manager.

However, in traditional organizations, similar duties were performed by other employees. Therefore, in a real company can be a whole managers team responsible for the product. Depending on which segment the product is oriented to (B2B, B2C, internal), how it is technologically advanced, at what level of growth the company is now, the responsibilities of Product Managers can be shifted to different functions from business development and marketing to technical implementation or design of the user experience.

Product management

From here we get different approaches to this discipline, in which Product Managers are divided according to archetypes or focused specialty or some other way. But all these types of managers on closer examination somehow overlap with the map which I showed above. When it comes to your business, you can choose which tasks your Product Manager solves and what responsibilities you assign to this role. I hope that my PRODUCT MANAGER DUTIES MAP will help you with this.

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