What is the most important contribution that a product manager makes toward his/her company?
February 28, 2019
February 28, 2019
I saw this question asked recently and was reminded about while the concept of a product manager has existed since people have been people building products, there is still so much misunderstood about what a product manager does and the exact role that a product manager fulfills within a company.
Let’s take a step back to talk over the concept of a product manager. Forget titles. Forget having a hired resource who has a job called product manager. I think this is where many get lost. Simply look at a product based team and ask the following questions:
- Who on the team is really deciding what the development team works on next?
- Who has the vision of where the product is going over the next 6 to 12 months?
- Who tracks requests for changes from the product team and customer feedback to see where the product needs improvement?
Regardless of what you call that person, that person, is your product manager. This could be your technical founder in a startup, it could be your development team lead in a small business or if large enough, you may have hired a specific person to do that who has the title of product manager. The point is that all teams have a product manager. It is impossible to be a product based team WITHOUT a product manager. At the end of the day someone sets direction and that is your product manager, regardless of the title they have.
So now that we have defined who the product manager is on your team, how does that person playing the role of product manager contribute to the team?
Think about the metrics that move your business forward. If you are a Software as a Service (SaaS) for example, you are tracking stats like conversions, churn and other metrics to see the health of your product. As you dive into your metrics, you may need to improve them. How can you improve your conversion rate of getting new paying customers? Sometimes you can improve them with process changes. Often however it may require changes to your on boarding process within the product. How does that change make it to your customers? By being reviewed, prioritized and scoped out on your product roadmap by your product manager.
Your product manager works as a gatekeeper to what your team works on for the product. They are responsible at the end of the day to ensure the features that move the needle for your business are worked on. As a result, the success of the business, and the growth of your user base and revenue are tied back to the ability of your product manager to properly prioritize features for your product.
So when you think back on the original question, what is the most important contribution that a product manager makes toward his/her company, the answer is growth. Your product manager grows the business by driving the product.