Introduction to Product Management
The rapid evolution of technology in the past two decades has led to the development of several tech-focused products across multiple industries which have resulted in the birth of the Product Manager. Over the last few years, product management has become one of the most sought-after roles with engineers, business school graduates, designers as well as individuals from diverse fields like economics and psychology having a go at it and being successful product leaders in their respective firms. So that brings us to the main question -
Who is a Product Manager?
A product manager is an individual who is responsible for the entire product lifecycle, which consists of the following phases:
- Ideation of the product
- Product Development and testing
- Post-launch tracking
- Rollback (if necessary)
A product manager might not be the one writing lines of codes and building the product from scratch, or might not be the one launching the product to the customers, but he is the one who is held responsible for the success or failure of each phase. He/she has to coordinate with the various stakeholders at each level to ensure that the right product is shipped to the customers at the right time which adds value to both the customers as well as the business.
Roles & Responsibilities
The responsibilities of a product manager depends largely on the industry, company, business models and the stage in which the product currently is (Growing, Stable, Mature, Retiring). At a macro level, the role of a product manager might be classified into 2 phases — discovery and delivery.
The discovery phase (also known as the ideation phase) comprises of the following sub-phases:
- Identifying the key pain points of the customers through interviews, surveys, reviews on public forums, customer support calls, data analytics etc.
- Market Research to identify key trends prevalent in the industry
- Competitor Analysis to identify what the industry peers are doing to solve customer problems
- Ideating features corresponding to each identified pain point
- Prioritizing the features so that it is aligned with the product vision and the overall organisational strategy
- Communicating the prioritised features to the senior leadership, the product and business leaders to secure their buy-in to get these executed
- Documentating the Product Requirement Document (PRD) so that all the requirements are well-defined and there is an organisation-wide clarity on why is the feature being built
The discovery phase is followed by the delivery (or execution) phase which involves a higher level of cross-functional collaboration. The sub-phases include:
- Actively participating in the monthly Sprint planning and securing alignment from the dev and QA leads
- Grooming the various stakeholders (developer, qa engineer, UX designer, category manager, marketing and content team) by giving a detailed overview of the PRD and setting the expectations before the development begins
- Monitoring the progress of the product development and unblocking the concerned team if any issue arises
- Performing UAT, giving feedback to the developers and designers to get some components altered to ensure the best possible customer experience.
- Maintain a bug tracking sheet so that the issues can be fixed in one of the future releases.
- Identifying the key metrics to be tracked and designing dashboards to monitor the performance of the feature, post-launch
- Preparing a press release, if needed, for the internal as well as external stakeholders
- Being vigilant of any post-release issues or vulnerabilities. Analyse business reports and monitor the product/feature performance and look for ways to continuously improve the customer experience
However, despite all of this, I am very sure that when some of the PMs are asked about their day-to-day activities, they would find it difficult to come up with a concise answer. It is very natural for PMs to do a lot of things, yet feel that nothing concrete has been achieved :D
It has been close to 4 months since I joined as an Associate Product Manager at MakeMyTrip in the Hotels and Locations team. It has been quite an eventful and enriching experience, to say the least.
Feel free to comment your views on this article :) . I am always open to feedbacks. And if you would like to connect, this is my linkedin profile — https://www.linkedin.com/in/harigovind-g