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How to Become a Product Manager

What Does Product Management Mean?

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

Product management is a process within a company that involves product development, planning, research, forecasting, pricing and more, all of which leads to a product launch and product marketing. Once a product is brought to market, Product Managers will often also continue to refine the product after its launch.

In the digital sphere, Product Managers are typically involved with products that can be distributed virtually—a website, piece of software, or mobile app, for example.

What’s the Difference Between Product Management and Project Management?

Product Managers lead the development of a product, with their focus being to deliver the best possible product. Project Managers, on the other hand, lead the execution of an overall project, including planning, budgeting, staffing, monitoring, and timelines for deliverables.

As a result, the Project Manager tends to take a bird’s eye view on product development, accounting for all the details of how that project will unfold. While Product Managers – often called the mini-CEOs of a company —focus less on the how and more on the what—the product itself, what it’s supposed to do, what features it comprises, what audience it’s for, and what the development team needs to do to make it a reality.

While there’s some overlap, therefore, between project management and product management, there are some important differences.

What is a Product Manager’s Role?

A Product Manager is responsible for developing and delivering a product, from concept to launch to continuous improvement. A Product Manager’s role, however, will be slightly different depending on their organization and the product being developed. At some organizations, for example, a Product Manager will have a hand in the marketing strategy; at others, this is entirely external to the Product Manager’s job.

The scope of a Product Manager’s decision-making will also depend on the size and culture of the company. If they’re working at a young start-up, the Product Manager will likely have a great deal of input into which products get made, while also having to oversee everything it takes to get products built and out the door—from early research to quality assurance and even writing up the release notes. In larger tech firms, on the other hand, top executives typically decide which products get made, leaving Product Managers in charge of the user research and execution phases. At the largest of these firms, multiple Product Managers are also more likely to work in parallel on narrower bands of a single product’s development—focused solely on collecting and analyzing user feedback, for example, or developing the product’s technical features.

But while Product Managers are laser-focused on delivering the best possible product, that doesn’t mean their vision is narrow; the job of product management has to respond to multiple factors, including the profitability of the business model, the possibilities and limitations of technology, and the functionality and user experience of the product itself. Negotiating these three pillars—the user or marketplace, the technological resources available, and the company’s business goals—is at the heart of what Product Managers do, and in fact, they may be the only person within an organization called upon to weigh all three.

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