What is a Product Manager?

Product management has gained recognition as a highly desirable field to move into, especially among recent college graduates. But what exactly does being a product manager entail?

The role isn’t confined to one specific area, and much of its charm lies in the flexibility it offers in day-to-day responsibilities. The exact job description varies company to company, but there are some common duties that you can expect to take on when you begin your first product management role.

What is a Product Manager?

Successful product managers act as a bridge between many different areas of the company, creating a master plan that allows the engineering, design, sales, and marketing teams to craft a unique and well-made product. Somewhat of a midpoint between the business side and the technology side of the company, product managers are in charge of taking the vision for the product and translating it into a tangible output. Along the way, they think of how aspects of its design, marketing, and function can be optimized to create the best possible version of itself.

What Do Product Managers Do?

While it sounds simple enough, product managers are responsible for a long list of specific initiatives that require the ability to switch smoothly from a detail-oriented mindset to one that is more concerned with larger concepts, such as:

  • Strategic Planning: A calculated mapping of where the product is heading, and how it’s going to get there. This usually includes an analysis of competing products, user research, and testing to understand what’s working and what’s not. This plan will be communicated to teams across the company so everyone can create a cohesive plan that supports the product from development to launch.
  • Directing Releases: Once a product roadmap has been made, it’s time to execute. Product managers divide the work into sections that are put onto a defined timeline that can be implemented by the team creating the product. These phases serve as a guide for everyone and ensure that the process of developing the product is smooth and organized.
  • Evaluating Feedback: With each iteration of the product, product managers are responsible for understanding the user’s experience to continue improving and optimizing. This feedback can come from the marketing team, the product team’s own research, or comments volunteered by users sharing their thoughts. The most successful product managers are able to sift through all of this information and pull actionable insights that can inform the next version.

In addition to these, a product manager’s day also frequently involves meetings, working with their team, communicating with seniors on behalf of their team, and helping execute the product’s plans.

How Do I Get Into Product Management?

While product management has become a dedicated role with an emerging “standard” career path, this is a relatively new role. Product managers have always existed, but they were not always called by this name. Furthermore, in the past, most product managers joined the field “accidentally”; the natural progression of their career (be that engineering, design, or some other more specialized field) brought them to a role that was in charge of handling all of these tasks, and they suddenly recognized they had become product managers.

These days, there are many more people aiming to get into product management right at the onset of their career paths. The split between those who purposely become product managers and those who simply become them is more even. Because of that, there is still no correct way to enter product management.

Product management is a field that can be well-suited for a variety of people who have the passion to create. Regardless of where you’ve begun your journey, there’s always a path to break into the industry and succeed.

To get started, check out Chet’s Become a Product Manager course to learn more about what it takes.

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