Everything that you see or use in your life, any product, at one point it was either it was a need or an idea. Usually, the familiar context will be, someone comes, put on the bargaining table and say: “I need you to build this for me.” And then you — a super Product Manager just sit there and come up with all fantastic ideas and then the team will only need to build it. Is that what you are imagining about the Product Management job? If yes, let’s follow me to see if it's true.
Before I was a Product Manager, I used to think, this job requires you to be a guy having ideas all the time. And not only me, but this is a popular belief. I’ve heard that the product manager is responsible for coming up with all the ideas and all of the solutions to all the problems. So when I see any new features or new products, they certainly belong to that guy’s idea.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the Product Manager’s role.
That’s partly true (because it would be great if you have this kind of capability) but really the good ideas will come from everywhere and you need to collect and organize them as a Product Manager. So let’s go through all places (besides you) where you can have them.
Where do ideas and solutions come from
External Stakeholders include a lot of different parties, but there are two groups of objects you need to care about the most, which are users and clients.
Let me make a quick distinction on this, it’s not always the case that a user is the same as a client. If you’re a business-to-business product manager, your product will be sold to other companies. These companies have their own users and they are your client.
If you're a business-to-consumer product manager, you’ll get a constant list of customer feedback from emails to your company or yourself and social media. Or from a Facebook group or within the app and website. They will tell us what they love about the experience and what they don’t but most of the time it’s what they don’t love — harsh reality.
So no matter who they are (users or clients), we will always have a very valuable source of ideas from the feedbacks.
These are just ideas coming in from your teams. They can be engineers, BA/ QA teams, design teams and marketing teams.
Engineers usually come with their ideas particularly. When you’re going through you know product specs for a certain initiative, the engineer may bring to light certain technical aspects that you may not have immediately thought of (or even don’t know how hard it is), and would it be great if we can incorporate the piece of technology into the design.
Design teams will be the ones that work with you the most. After you draft the wireframe, they will execute the prototype. And ideas will be also often born in the process.
For QA / BA teams, they are always the team that will help you cover all the corner cases that you will hardly know in the process of collecting and forming ideas. In addition, this team will help you keep the balance in the case of new feature development without side effects on the existing ones.
The last one is marketing team. Obviously there’s no closer place to the customer than sales and marketing and so they’ll certainly bring back a lot of key customer insights
One of the most important things when I worked with engineering teams at the beginning of a project was “always having tracking systems integrated in order to track events or other metrics. It could be Firebase Analytics, mParticle, or anything else. From that, I can be looking at some data on how users navigate through an app, then forming the ideas to improve something.
Let me give you an example
Based on data, I see on a particular screen, users just spend one or two seconds then immediately go somewhere else. That means there is something wrong with this screen. I need to figure out what’s going on then try to fix it or redesign.
Roles and responsibilities of a Product Manager
So you can see that the important job of a product manager is really not to come up with all the solutions or ideas but it’s kind of understanding which ideas are most valuable to pursue. So how can we evaluate the value to make decisions?
Being a product manager, you have to understand the core value of the product, where you want to take the product, and what your vision is. Sometime, a lot of ideas, a lot of noise that is going to be floating around you. Roles and responsibilities of a Product Manager is not only know when to say Yes but also when to say No. And it’s definitely not always easy and obvious.
That's the reason why the title is Product Manager not Product Builder or not Product Designer
Sometime, we can have a short term win such as getting lot of customers but might not align perfectly with a long term strategic direction so the key here is keep the balance.
Now you know that you're not alone. You’re going to have solutions and ideas coming in from all sorts of places, no matter the type of product manager you are. Some of the impact and volume of them is going to be different from those different groups, but your job is really to know which ones are good ideas, which ones are bad, why are they good ideas, and when is the best time to do them.
So that's it. I hope you love this article and don't forget to share this. Stay safe.