Being a Product manager in Europe can mean almost anything. If we are going to have real product driven companies, it’s important to start trying to define what this role really is.
Unfortunately there are so many definitions by both companies and people. Instead let’s discuss a set of tasks that wouldn’t be your day to day (outside of perhaps startup stage).
Here are 4 responsibilities that indicate you aren’t really a true Product manager:
1. Your main responsibility is the product backlog
You spend most of your time managing the product backlog. Over 30+% of your job is to create, maintain, map out dependencies and constantly update and work on it.
2. You live with the development team
You work day in and day out with the development teams and they are your main internal stakeholder. Your boss might even be the CTO. You are accountable for the progress of the dev team and for each step of the process in feature development
3. You perform and / or manage user acceptance testing
Before any feature/product is released into production you ensure that the Product/feature meets what was set out by the user story. You are the lynch pin when it comes to release.
4. Optimize the value of the dev teams work
Ensuring a high functioning and successful Development team rests with you. You plan and ensure that features get developed according to the roadmap for the product. You are a the key factor in making sure things run and the features get developed.
Ok ok ok.
Yes I am aware these are all essentially responsibilities that fall to a “Product Owner”. However the point I am trying to make is that unless you are small enough to warrant a PDM doing all of this + a significant amount of other work, then these are not the same role. A Product owner IS a job. It is definitely important enough that it is not just a role that someone plays.
If you want to be a product focused company then build your team the way it should be built without taking shortcuts. Understand what a Product manager is and more importantly, understand what it is not.
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