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What does a Product Manager Do?

Considering just how popular product manager positions have become in recent years, it’s fascinating to see how the role still seems to be shrouded in secrecy!

It’s as if the world of product management is some sort of mysterious society and only a select few are allowed to know what goes on behind the scenes. Ask people what a product manager actually does and you could very well be greeted with a sea of blank faces – even those working in SaaS companies may feel like they’re left in the dark. Well, fear not – here at Craft we have years of experience in product teams and are willing to reveal the answers to the question “What does a product manager do”.

Product Manager Job Description

The job of a product manager covers a range of responsibilities and can often see you juggling what may feel like different roles. It can be a hairy ride, so buckle in and get ready to deal with all sorts of issues and people in departments across the organization.

Overall Responsibility

Essentially the product manager has overall responsibility for the end-to-end development of a particular product or an area within that product. That’s not to say they actually get involved in the technical side of the development, but they provide the development team with the requirements and then stay in touch to make sure the features are completed correctly and on time.

It is a central role which is focused on bringing a product vision to life and then continuously building on it. As a product manager you’ll probably end up working with every department in the company, from R&D and QA to Marketing, Sales, Customer Support and Customer Success. The aim is always to understand what the users want and need and to provide them with the best version of it.

Strategy and Focus

Before providing developers with requirements, the product manager has to undertake a significant amount of preparation. This can take in carrying out market and competitor research, setting the product strategy and goals. They also need to analyze ideas and feature requests that come from customers as well as requirements from other stakeholders such as managers.

product ideation process at Craft.io

Ideation process at Craft.io – app for Product Managers

The next step is to choose which ideas and requests to turn into features prioritize the list of features you plan to develop and write requirements documents so developers can understand what they need to create. The popularization of dedicated product management software like Craft has vastly improved product managers’ ability to manage their features, create roadmaps, manage feedback and connect them all together.

Following Up

A product manager’s work is never done – the product can always be improved and advanced. And it’s important to note that the product manager’s role in the process doesn’t end when the development is released to customers.

Once people are actually using any new product and feature the product manager is responsible for following up – checking the statistics and communicating with customers to find out whether they are satisfied with the version of the product. This information can then be built on in order when deciding which new features and products to create throughout the product life cycle.

Product Manager Responsibilities

The specific responsibilities of a product manager can vary significantly from one company to the next, but usually they are required to:

  • Become a primary expert in the market that the product operates in.
  • Create market analysis processes and put them into action.
  • Collect and analyze customer feedback and ideas.
  • Set the strategic goals for the product, aligned with the overall company and product team vision.
  • Create a strategic product roadmap with a timeline that shows when the goals are expected to be achieved and the initiatives that will be put in place to achieve them.
  • Prioritize feature development plans.
  • Work with business development and solution architect teams to ascertain the feasibility of developing the features.
  • Write feature requirements documents and user stories describing what needs to be developed.
  • Work with User Experience experts to create user-focused designs.
  • Deliver the requirements to the development team and continuously follow up on the progress of the development to make sure of timely and accurate delivery.
  • Work with the product marketing and customer success teams to ensure users are aware of new features and products and understand how to benefit from them.
  • Carry out user research and surveys to analyze the success of new features and products.

Product Manager Requirements

The product manager is a crucial position in any company that produces software, so it is essential for them to hire individuals with appropriate experience. Requirements usually include:

  • A minimum of two years experience as a program or product manager.
  • Experience creating new product features from planning to delivery.
  • Managerial experience and skills.
  • Fluent spoken and written English.
  • Superb analytical skills.
  • Strong communication skills.

Preferred skills can include:

  • A Computer Science degree.
  • Coding and development experience.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the market.

Product Manager Salary

Product manager salaries vary enormously depending on experience and location but in general you can expect to be paid well.

According to Glassdoor:

  • The average salary for a Product Manager in the United States is around a $110,000 a year.
  • A Junior Product Manager is likely to earn an average of around $80,000 a year.
  • A Senior Product Manager earns around $138,000 a year.
  • A Head of Product will earn some $174,000 a year.
  • A Chief Product Officer earns around $185,000 a year.

How do you become a product manager?

The product manager role has become one of the most desirable graduate positions out there. So how do you get your foot in the door and become a product manager? The first thing to realise is that qualifications rarely contributes to being hired as a product manager. More than anything, the important thing is to get experience on the job.

Usually a person starts off in a different role such as a project manager, program manager or product marketing manager and then transitions to product management within the company after learning about the product from day to day experience. Once you have developed some experience you can apply for jobs at smaller start-ups that are willing to take a chance on you and have smaller budgets.

When it comes to creating the best set of circumstances to become a product manager you should think about:

  • Developing your online persona by commenting on sites like Quora and other forums.
  • Attending product conferences and events.
  • Reading product blogs like Mind the Product.
  • Get experience in project management and jobs that require analytical thinking and problem solving.

Why work as a product manager?

What is it that makes so many people want to work as a product manager? In one word: dynamism. Being a product manager is one of the dynamic and vibrant jobs you’ll find. At its heart you are an inventor, who has the power and responsibility to come up with whatever ideas you think are best and get them created.

Add into the mix the variety you get from dealing with so many people in different departments while communicating with both internal and external stakeholders and you’ll see why you’ll never get bored as a product manager. It’s never easy but it will keep you on your toes and keep you thinking. And the money can be great as well!

Try Craft Now – get a Free Trial

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