Product Management: A Look Behind the Scenes
By Arijit Banerjee
In one word, the life of a pragmatic Product Manager would be best described as hectic. But would it justify the whirlpool of tasks they shoulder? You decide. They are responsible for translating a product vision into a valuable product. Their activities may vary depending on the complexity of a product and size of a company.
However, their ultimate goal is to develop a product that achieves business goals and maximises Return on Investment. So, you can agree that behind every great product is a driven Product Management team. But what really goes on behind the scenes. Let’s take a closer look:-
Their activities range from conceptualising to product development and product marketing. Product Managers direct the movement of the product through every stage of its lifecycle. As a result, they act as a liaison between many departments such as design, engineering as well as coordinate sales and marketing. Every product built has to meet customer expectations so a Product Manager’s top priority is to track customer engagement. They integrate that information into building an enhanced and long lasting product.
To keep up and compete in such a busy market, PM have to adapt their product to changes. They do so by staying updated with the latest technological trends, market behaviour, competitor launches, etc. For product effort to continue, Product Managers have to keep the Executives apprised with the progress of the product.
Ensuring companies produce quality and in-demand products, Product Managers require a comprehensive set of skills. One such skill would be their ability to stay organised at all times which means planning a schedule and prioritizing tasks. When developing a product, PM acquire programming and design skills to interact with the engineering team. When communicating a change in product features or requesting a bigger budget, Product Managers have the ability to negotiate or convince people to do things the way they want. Negotiating is a core skill used by PM on a daily basis to make minor or major decisions. Once they receive user feedback, their Data Analytics skills enable them to enhance product functioning.
Apart from having a passion for business process and strong soft skills, successful Product Managers make for great leaders.
Today, it is common for Product Managers to face speed bumps. The biggest challenge for them would be time constraint. They have to achieve short/long term objectives and meet multiple demands within a short deadline. With new trends and competitors, customers need changes. For this, a PM has the burden of constantly updating product features to keep up with changing market needs while satisfying customer expectations. This can get overwhelming at times. Creating and maintaining the product roadmap is another difficult task.
Tools for learning
Product Managers demand tools to organize requirements, build wireframes, manage roadmaps, etc. For instance, they use feature tracking tools such as JIRA, Pivotal Tracker, FogBugz which track bugs. To plan and organise the journey of their product, they use ProductPlan or OmniPlan as a roadmap planner.
Before a product gets built, a PM uses wireframes to prepare a draft of what they want the product to look like. Common wireframing tools used include Mockingbird, Pencil and Axure. For Data Analysis, Mixpanel, Geckboard or Optimizely are recommended tools.
In today’s agile world, the realm of Product Management is ever changing. It is tough and requires heavy commitment. The road to launching an impactful product is a fight to keep every task grounded in business goals. Also, in this day and age of immense opportunities in the field of Product Management, it would be wise to undergo Product Management training or even have a Product Management certification, and of course a world class option is Manipal ProLearn’s post graduate program in Product Management, which is designed to make you ready to take on the world of Product Management.