What does a Product Manager do? Take 1...

Starting a new role forces product managers to think of the basic principles the guide product management.  I recently changed my LinkedIn profile headline to "Creating products that customers love" and it got my mind going on what a product manager actually does.  While many of us answer this with "what doesn't a product manager do?!", it's useful to define this.I think of the Product Manager Basics through the ability to answer the following three questions:
  • What is the problem your customers are having that you are trying to solve?
  • How frequently is this problem happening?
  • What is the revenue impact if you find a solution?
Product Management is a unique mix beween business, technology and UX.  I love this explanation from Mind the Product, which uses the graphic located below to explain where product management sits.  Taken from his post, Martin Erikkson talks about these three areas:
  • Business – Product Management is 
    • a business function
    • focused on maximizing business value
    • should be obsessed with optimizing a product to achieve the business goals while maximizing ROI
  • Technology – Product Management needs to understand
    • how your product will be built
    • the technology stack 
    • the level of effort involved in order to makethe right decisions
    • Ideally, Product Managers spend more time day to day with the development team than with anyone else inside the business
  • User Experience – The Product Manager is 
    • the voice of the user inside the business 
    • passionate about the user experience
    • testing the product, talking to users and getting that feedback first hand – especially in a start-up.
 Join a team, set a vision (after TONS of research) and GET EXCITED about what you're working on.  Being a passionate leader is key to the success of any product manager.  Once you've identified the project/product to work on, it's all about action - really getting into the details and hammering out what it takes to get the job done.

All said and done, there's really nothing that relates to business that product managers don't get involved in.  In simple terms a PRODUCT manager is responsible for the overall success of a product from its birth to its burial; the product lifecycle.  "This position is at the intersection from where founder strategy, user feedback, development team management, and market awareness come together. From what’s been said, it certainly appears that this is not a role that you “fall” into, but rather could aspire to be in." - Ken Yeung 

Below is a list of resources that will help as you understand more about what product managers do!  Are there any PM's out there that have other suggestions for what to include in this?  What are some of the key things you look for when interviewing product managers?  Stay tuned for more on how to hire the right people for product management!


  1. Great description of a Product Manager. It is always hard to tell others what do you do exactly. And we usually do not have tow days alike.

    Now I want to ask product managers to share pictures of they PM day and show them in one place: http://productfest.com
    Would be great if you could share yours on twitter with hashtag #productfest

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  4. Hi Kevin! I found this in a Google search as well as seeing it in several other blog posts. Is it yours? I'm happy to cite the reference!!

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