A Product Manager’s pyramid

What it takes to be the best in the business

A product manager’s role is a vague one. They have to be generalists, adaptable and nimble enough to learn fast. They don’t have a direct authority over anyone but need to have influencing skills to motivate everyone in their immediate teams to achieve the product’s objective. But apart from these hundreds of skills, what does it take to be a great product manager

Levels of responsibilities of a Product Manager -

Phase 1

During early stages of being a product manager, the business stakeholders might dictate what needs to be built. The chances are the founders have already done their market research, talked to potential customers, done some competitive analysis, formed a broad product vision and the product is on its way (fully or half baked) with paying customers.

The Product Manager then follows through with these high level requirements, converting them into detailed functional and technical specifications, and thus manages the execution and shipping process.

This phase includes

  • Product roadmap planning
  • Product Management Operations
  • Project management
  • Product backlog grooming
  • Scrum planning
  • Business Analysis
  • Requirement Gathering

Phase 2

As you gain more experience with product planning and operations, the next array of responsibilities might involve taking ownership of new features or projects. This will require researching the market for product-market fit.

This phase also requires looking into the analytics to understand customer engagement with the product and driving customer value by defining and measuring metrics.

This will require you to

  • Conduct market research
  • Conduct Customer interviews and surveys
  • Develop MVPs
  • Validate ideas and solutions
  • Constant A/B testing and prototyping
  • Defining and Measuring product Analytics
  • Driving Customer Engagement

Other activities might include -

  • Customer visits
  • Product proposals
  • Business cases
  • Competitive research and positioning
  • Early customer and stakeholder validation of the concept

Phase 3

The next level of responsibilities for a Product Manager might include taking active participation in the product launch of the new features/projects. The PM will have to drive the post-release process of providing training to the internal and external stakeholders, be the direct face of the product and in general provide the general direction on how the world perceives the new feature.

In this phase, the PM might also get some responsibilities of creating pricing strategies for future products.

The responsibilities in this phase might include -

  • Developing and maintaining customer relationships (Face to Face, Emails, Blogs, Social Networks, Events etc.)
  • Collateral and white-paper development
  • Press releases & analyst briefings
  • Trade shows
  • Product presentations and demos
  • Pricing strategy
  • Promotions, Sales tools and Sales training

Phase 4

A well rounded product manager will have some responsibilities conferred upon him at a later stage depending on the seniority and experience. The PM in this scenario might get an opportunity to manage a portfolio of products/projects. They might be directly involved in getting business to the company or generating leads.

One of the most important responsibilities might also include managing the budgets for the different products and thus being partly/wholly responsible for the profit/loss of the existing product line. This may also involve the opportunity to propose the product vision and direction for the company’s products.

The following activities might be conferred upon the PM -

  • Manage a portfolio of projects or products — portfolio/investment management
  • Responsible for budgets and P&L of the product — maximizing profits in existing products/features and wind down unsuccessful products/features
  • Evangelize the product — internally and externally
  • Generate high level sales leads
  • Partner integration
  • Product-related M&A

Do you have any other responsibilities as a Product Manager?