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What is the role of a Product Manager?

The role of a Product Manager is one of the most intriguing and challenging you’ll find in technology companies today. Essentially, the product manager decides what direction a product will go in and makes sure it gets there. How do they do this? Through a combination of:

  • Research
  • Strategizing
  • Ideation
  • Prioritization
  • Communication

The product manager is often a cross-departmental role, so communication is key. They need to work with colleagues in various departments including:

  • Research and development
  • Project management
  • Marketing
  • Sales

Setting the Product Direction

Working as a product manager, it’s as if you’re the captain of a ship, responsible for setting the product’s course and making sure the entire team stick to the course while navigating any choppy waters along the way. The aim is always to get to the destination (create and publish fully developed, shippable features) on time and without any major upsets.

Preparation and communication are essential within the product management role, so before setting off on the course you must do your research, create a strategy, come up with ideas and prioritize those ideas. You then need to make sure the lines of communication are kept clear so you are always heading in the right direction.

The role of a product manager can often feel all-encompassing so we’ve broken it down to five main elements:

1. Research

To be a successful product manager it is important to become an expert in the product and also be continuously inquisitive: the product is constantly evolving, so you can never rest on your laurels. The best way to do this is to get involved in the market the product operates in. Join online forums, follow innovators on social media and read articles about the industry. If you can get to events such as conferences covering the industry, go along, listen to talks and meet people.

It is also extremely important to stay in touch with your customers. The people who use your product regularly have a completely different perspective on the user experience, so customer feedback can create ideas that you never would have thought of. One of the best ways to get feedback is to implement an idea portal which allows customers to easily log in online and send their ideas and requests to the product team directly from the portal.

2. Strategy

As the person in charge of the product, the product manager needs to define a clear product strategy. This is the blueprint for the product, which allows you to set out exactly what you are trying to do.

To do this you should answer questions including:

  • What is this product?
  • Who is the product being created for?
  • What are the benefits of the product?
  • What are the long term and short term goals?
  • Who are the direct competitors?

3. Ideation

Once you feel comfortable with the product and the market, you’ve been in touch with your customers to get feedback and you’ve defined the strategy, it’s time to come up with specific ideas of which features to develop and add to your product.

This is the main task of a product manager. Don’t be worried about chatting to other members of your team about your ideas – the more input the better. But at the end of the day, the product belongs to the product manager so it is up to you to decide which ideas should be developed. A tool like Craft.io often includes a section like the Braindump where you can write all your ideas down before you turn them into features.

4. Prioritization

Clearly, not everything can be developed at the same time, so with a list of ideas in place you’ll need to prioritize them. One of the most popular methods product teams use to assess which ideas become features and prioritize them is called Story Mapping.

This is usually a meeting which brings together members of all the departments involved, to discuss the user experience and user flow. From there the team and the product manager can decide which features are essential to the user journey and place them in sprints – the development periods.

5. Communication

With the features prioritized and assigned to sprints, it is up to the development team to build the product. The product manager should continuously stay in touch with colleagues and allow them to comment on current and upcoming features. Product management software like Craft.io makes it easy to link all features from the prioritization table and give everyone a space to make comments.

Product Management Software

Considering the wide range of responsibilities and requirements placed on a product manager, there is often a degree of overwhelm and also leaking of ideas and plans.

The introduction of dedicated product management software like Craft.io has changed the game. Product Managers now have a tool to help them manage their feature backlog. They can then link each feature to goals and initiatives in their strategic roadmap and also to any feedback or ideas from customers that they receive in their Idea Portal.

Using Craft.io in a Product Management Role

Craft.io is one of the leading product management platforms and using it can be instrumental in ensuring you make a success of the product management role. All of the five main responsibilities of a product manager can be implementing using Craft:

  • The Idea Portal is an essential tool for collecting customer feedback and research.
  • The Strategic Insights section can be used to define your product strategy.
  • The Braindump is a space for ideation – you can always link any idea to a new feature.
  • The feature table allows you to list all your feature backlog and prioritize them.
  • Communication is easy with Craft – can share your product plans with any team member and allow them to comment on any feature.

Try Craft now – get a Free Trial

Craft’s Product Management Platform has been specifically designed to streamline the planning process and help product managers make better product decisions as a result. Try it out right now with a 14-day free trial or book a personal live demo with one of our product experts.