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How to Become a Product Manager

What Does a Product Manager Do?

Ready to start your career in Product? Find out more about BrainStation's Product Management Course

Everything a Product Manager does is related to delivering a successful product, and that means they are responsible for defining and coordinating all activities needed to bring a product to market. This can include customer and user research, identifying market opportunities, revenue and pricing modeling, roadmapping, and more

Because the role of Product Manager is both internal- and external-facing, it requires a mix of research, communication, documentation, team management, and collaboration with research, technical and marketing teams; it also requires a thorough understanding of user experience.

And while it’s true that Product Managers manage the development of a product, they achieve this by managing people—motivating, guiding, negotiating, and making sure that different teams, such as development, marketing, and sales are aligned.

As management consulting firm McKinsey describes the role of Product Manager, “They wear many hats, using a broad knowledge base to make trade-off decisions, and bring together cross-functional teams, ensuring alignment between diverse functions.” This helps to explain why product management is emerging as the new training ground for future tech CEOs.

What Does a Product Manager Do Day-to-Day?

A Product Manager’s daily tasks depend on what stage of product development their product is in, as this will often involve working with different teams. Generally speaking, though, a Product Manager’s tasks typically fall into four (somewhat open-ended) categories:

Product Strategy

Before development begins, the Product Manager develops a document to clearly outline a vision for the product, including how the product will evolve over time, how it will get there, and why it will be successful. Underlying all of these considerations are the customers’ needs.

Product Roadmap

The roadmap is a visual representation of how the product will evolve over time. This big-picture plan helps to ensure that even the smallest steps of the product’s development play their part in helping to reach its grander goal. This plan is then used to prioritize tasks, coordinate between teams, and continually measure overall progress.

Product Backlog and User Stories

Getting into the nitty-gritty of building out the product’s features, this list is essentially a running tally of things to be done during product development. This to-do list is framed from the perspective of the user, not the Developer, and so focuses on the product per se, and not the work that goes into making it.

Product Analytics

After a product has launched, the work continues, as new features are rolled out and bugs are removed. Product Managers monitor all the data that feeds into this ongoing process (including how the product is used, performance analytics, and customer feedback) to identify areas for improvement.

Underlying each of these responsibilities is Product Managers’ passion for understanding their users’ problems and needs, which they translate into a comprehensive understanding of the product’s strengths and weaknesses, always maintaining a desire for improvement.

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