What exactly is a product manager job description ?
March 5, 2019
March 5, 2019
One of the challenges in the product management field is that the exact roles and responsibilities the position is expected to complete can vary widely company to company. While there is a generally agreed upon best practices for product managers to follow, there is not a hard set process or role expectations. As a result, a product manager job description can be challenging to really lay out or if you are looking for a product management position, it can range widely what you read as possible openings.
Why are product manager job description a challenge?
Product teams typically go through a process of maturing from a product startup to a small business to being a fully blown established business where product management goes from informal to critical path. Along the way, leadership needs to define the product manager job description based on the current make up of the team and maturity level of their processes.
For example, in a startup world, the product manager is could be one of the founders of the company who is charged with steering the ship. As you grow into a smaller business, the product manager job description can expand to someone who needs to coordinate the feature across the organization. As you get larger you may have multiple product managers working on one product and also have multiple products within the organization so the product manager job description goes from a wide open one stop shop to a more specific and niche role within the organization.
What are common traits you should see within a product manager job description?
- Organized: A product manager needs to be organized because information will be channeled to them from a variety of sources and need to ensure they are keeping track of the information and providing output from what they collect.
- Customer Focused: Products exist to solve pain points for customers. A product manager needs to be customer focused to constantly be willing to listen and hear the voice of the customer to build a better product.
- Cares about the business: The reality is that many positions in your company can show up to work, add their contribution and leave without making much of an impact. The product manager however will be the reason you live or die. How a product manager prioritizes features and drives the product roadmap will dictate if you convert more customers or loose less customers. They need to be invested in the business metrics and care about the business.
- Humble: A product manager who says they know everything should never be hired. The reality is that product managers should be willing to learn from customers, from their team, from competition and from all sources on what is important and prioritize the feedback into features for the roadmap. If they “know it all” your are doomed.
- Communicate well. A large part of product management is communication. Talking with customers. Closing feedback loops. Explaining why features were selected for the product roadmap. Communicating the vision for the product and when it changes, what the change was.
All product teams have different needs. The best you can look for when trying to define your product manager job description are really high level concepts that you want to look for and need that role to complete. This list above are really the soft skills of course and on top of this, you would typically want to call out the more functional part of the day to day life that you expect the product manager to complete.
The list of day to day needs can range again based on the company but typically you will see a product manager job description include the following:
- Product Planning: Product managers are responsible to manage strategic objectives and key results, tracking competition, defining user personas and tracking them within the product. Understanding the business model and what is needed from the product to achieve those results.
- Feedback Management: Products live or die on feedback. Product managers need to create feedback loops with customers and team members and complete user interviews to constantly get ideas on how to improve the product.
- Feature Management: Most product teams have a large feature backlog and a product manager needs to constantly prioritize the feature backlog to figure out what is the most important items the team needs to work on to improve the business.
- Roadmap Management: Product managers need to define the vision for the product and lay out the roadmap to deliver the vision. The roadmap will change and product managers need to be able to communicate those changes across the organization and customer base.
Product management is a complicated vertical as it does not have that long term common acceptance of what the role should be doing. As a result, you really need to look at your organization and define the product manager job description to incorporate the touch points where the strategy of the product is involved. Keep in mind the product manager hands off the release execution to the development teams and should remain at a more strategic level if possible.