Product Managers have to wear multiple hats and focus on varied areas of product development and execution. The role is frequently misunderstood, and it is common for product manager’s to not being able to grasp the complete spectrum of their responsibility. They usually end up focusing on 2-3 areas more and neglecting others.
Gopal Shenoy describes the role of product manager perfectly in this slide deck. According to him there are five key responsibilities of a PM:
- Identify: Determine what the target market and customer problems and needs are.
- Prioritize: Prioritize the needs or problems based on organization objectives and goals.
- Define: Translate market needs into a product vision or a feature set that drives the product towards the vision.
- Launch: This could be responsibility of product management or product marketing depending upon organization structure.
- Measure: After launching the product, is it doing what it is supposed to do? Are customers requirements are actually being met by the product?
Most Product Managers tend to focus more on few areas of this responsibility spectrum and neglect others in the process. In my experience, I have seen most PM focusing on first three areas more. These Product Managers perceive their role as identifying target market problems and defining features for engineering. Launching product and measuring performance often gets neglected. I think it’s extremely critical to focus on launching and measuring. Making sure that product features are seeing light of the day is critical and even more critical is measuring the performance of those features against the goals. There is no way for Product Managers to gain key insights about product and markets without analyzing data. It is hard to get product or features right in first version. Crunching numbers helps in distinguishing perceptions from market realities, and provides key insights to iterate the product with necessary tweaking. Without focusing on data collection and measuring products against the goal, PMs would live in an illusionary world of understanding problems and solving them while in reality they might be just standing still.