What is a product manager?

October 15th, 2013 § 0 comments

I’ve been a product manager for a number of years now, and I still have trouble describing what I do. I tend to say “I’m the bridge between the different parts of a business – the executive branch, marketing, development, customers – and it’s my job to make sure the product speaks to and for all these segments.”
I usually get a puzzled look and then go into detail about various aspects of the role. Usually though, when the conversation is over, I walk away feeling like I didn’t do a good job of describing what I do.

It’s been a challenge. How does one succinctly describe a role that has so many different parts to it? Not just that, talk to two product managers and you’ll find that their responsibilities in their respective roles can vary widely.

Which is why this article grabbed my attention – Product Managers: Who are these ‘mini-CEOs’ and what do they do?

Specifically these bits:

Both Norton and Elman agree that the PM’s job is to help execute the company’s vision. In a way, it’s almost like they’re the mini-CEO, complete with the influence, but no authority — they aren’t the direct supervisors of the engineer or designer and can’t fire anyone for not following through, and focused on the success of the product’s mission.

 

What’s more, while a PM can be a mini-CEO, their responsibility is to make sure that the product not only matches up to customer expectations, but are also in line with the overall strategy set forth by the company’s founders and CEO.

I’m gonna adopt the definition put forth by Norton and Elman in my future conversations, and see if I find more understanding.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering what a PM is, what they do and how one might contribute to your business, I highly recommend reading that article and the additional references in it.

So now you know what a product manager is and think you need one? I can help 😉

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