Home Entrepreneurship What is Product Management & the role of Product Manager?

What is Product Management & the role of Product Manager?

by Sorbaioli
What is Product Management & the role of Product Manager?

Product management is a discipline that lies at the intersection of business strategy, engineering and marketing. We also see more and more companies specializing in product management consulting.

Product managers are responsible for defining, prioritizing, and coordinating all product-related efforts. They work with interdisciplinary teams to ensure that products meet customer needs, while meeting company objectives.

What is Product Management?

The ambition of product management: launch products that meet the expectations of target customers

Product management is a transversal role which consists in managing the entire life cycle of a product. The ultimate goal of product management for the company is to bring to market a product that creates value for the target customer.

Therefore, the role of a product manager is to define the company’s strategy for each product or service marketed. These include defining what the target market is, how the company will make money ( business model ) and how it will distribute products to customers. He constantly collects data & customer feedback to measure success, but also to continuously improve the company’s offer.

Product management therefore means asking:

  • “why” the world needs a new solution,
  • “for whom” should we create it,
  • and finally “how” the company should go about bringing its idea to life and bringing it to market.

The origins of product management

The origins of product management date back to 1931, with a note written by Neil H. McElroy at Procter & Gamble. He invented the concept of “Brand Men”, whose mission was to ensure complete responsibility for the success of a branded product, by embodying “the voice of the customer” within the company.

When product management & Startups go hand in hand

Today, there is a product function in almost all tech companies & startups. And indeed, when product management & startups go hand in hand, the result is often a great success.

It has become a strategic role for startups which generally focus their economic model on the development of new products (a product can also be 100% digital, like a marketplace site for example).

In practice, startups are obsessed with having their ideas validated by the market and are constantly looking for ways to get a quick return on what customers want. It’s this focus on long-term vision and iterative execution of their products that allows startups to move faster (and save money in the long run).

They also need someone who can help them pivot quickly when they realize something isn’t working as planned or when they have the opportunity to pivot to something better: that’s the role of the product. manager.

The advent of Agile Product Management

When you create a product, in practice, you don’t work “in the bedroom” until the product comes out… Far from it. The realization is rather done through iterative development cycles (this is all the more true for 100% digital products). This is called Agile Product Management.

Concretely, this allows you to spend less time planning, and to get into action more quickly. At the start, the teams create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to validate the concept. By confronting it directly with the market, they collect feedback that allows them to readjust their plan and their priorities.

  • The strategic vision does not change fundamentally but is continuously fed by validations and feedback from end users.
  • The way of making the product can change according to user feedback.

It is therefore a continuous loop that is established between the design teams, the strategic vision of the company, and the end users.

In addition to better meeting market expectations, Agile Product Management allows the company to save money: rather than “correcting” a feature once everything is 100% finished, the agile method makes it possible to change trajectory when it does not yet require too much effort & time from the teams.

The 4 simplified activities of product management

Define a product strategy

At this stage, it is a question of defining a vision and a product concept that will really create value in the eyes of the end customer.

Here, the product manager focuses mainly on studying the market, the target (the personas) and the competitors. The goal is to find a differentiating positioning, which will allow the company to stand out.

It is also at this stage that the economic model is refined, so as to fit into the company’s overall strategy.

Design the product

At this phase, the stages of framingdesign and prioritization of the various deliverables begin.

We specify the product attributes that are required, as well as the technical, visual aspects, etc. while prioritizing them (defining which features are vital, important, or nice to have ). In short, we list all the deliverables that the design team will have to work on.

It is also here that we begin to create our product roadmap, and that we begin to lay the bricks of the project. For this, we set an initial schedule that will serve as a compass for the project teams.

Execute the project itself

In this phase, we execute the plan! The key success factor? Multi – disciplinary alignment.

To go faster and simplify life, we are often tempted to limit our internal interactions, but this is a mistake.

On the contrary, it is important that everyone is informed of the roadmap, of the progress made, and that they also have the possibility of giving feedback (in particular the sales representatives, who are in direct contact with the customers, on a daily basis).

Launch the product and continuously improve it

Once the product is designed, the story can begin. It is then that we focus on the marketing of the latter, and that we execute our marketing strategy, and that we follow marketing indicators to know if the expected success is at the meeting.

You thought it was over? Well no… Because to maximize its profits, a company must continue to invest in its product to develop it, strengthen it or simply “update it” so that it can always better meet the needs of the target.

Especially since our economic context is turbulent: there are always emerging needs, new trends, or rival solutions that force companies to rework their product to be able to stay in the race.

The role of a product manager

The responsibilities of a product manager

Product managers are responsible for the visionstrategyroadmap, and success of a product. To do this, they embody the voice of customers, and themselves set the expectations that will fully satisfy target customers.

As a PM, it is crucial to start by defining the problem before you start looking for a solution, and to set ambitious, but realistic goals, based on your understanding of customer needs.

Product managers are also responsible for identifying potential opportunities that would benefit their business, whether through existing products or new products, based on the field data they collect.

On a daily basis, the responsibilities of the product manager include the following activities:

  • Identify and prioritize new product ideas.
  • Plan and coordinate the development of new products.
  • Manage external relationships with suppliers, vendors, partners and customers.
  • Ensure that all critical project milestones are met on time.

The product manager is a conductor

As a product manager, you are therefore responsible for defining the vision and strategy of a product. You determine which features are most important and how to prioritize them to best meet the needs of your users.

All this while keeping an eye on the future: by working with interdisciplinary teams, you must bring products to market whose sales can be sustained and whose features evolve with the needs of their users over time.

Real central part of the project, the product manager works in close collaboration with the marketing, sales and design teams. In particular, it helps engineers identify any bottlenecks in development that could be slowing progress – and help them quickly find solutions to those issues so they don’t hamper delivery dates. The objective is to reduce time to market for new products or new functionalities.

This is why many companies rely on their product managers to act as strategic leaders, good communicators, able to align all stakeholders around the same objective: to make things happen faster than ever, and may the product launched meet the success it deserves!

Finally, the product manager must follow the evolution of the competition while proactively working on the features that will allow the company to differentiate itself (this includes collecting data on competitors’ products in order to know what they do well and what they don’t).

What skills are required for a product manager?

Along with their responsibilities, a good product manager will have a wide range of skills, including:

  • Understanding of the business and the customers, in order to define the right priorities.
  • Ability to communicate with other departments.
  • Strong analytical skills to understand data, spot trends and make data-driven decisions.
  • The ability to work with engineers, designers and marketers to build something that customers will love and be willing to buy.

In summary, a good product manager is both a person who has a good “business” vision, a particular sensitivity to customer expectations, and an excellent understanding of the design work that this entails.

What are the differences between Product Manager and Product Owner?

The first thing to know is that these are two distinct roles and responsibilities, which are often confused.

The product manager has a more strategic role. It must ensure the long-term success of the product. He follows and intervenes in all the activities of product management, but he must keep a “helicopter view” which allows him to set several development projects to music, and to ensure the good positioning of the product in relation to the market and the internal capacities of the company.

The product owner, on the other hand, has a more tactical role. It is the person thanks to whom the project advances and the products develop. He is very close to the teams of engineers who build the product, and he is the one who sets the pace by notably managing the backlog (the prioritized list of what must be done to design and improve the product). He is therefore in the action, and on the front line with project teams and end users.


Product management is an essential discipline in business (especially in startups). You can have an exciting career in product management. Certainly, it comes with many challenges and responsibilities, but it is also rewarding because it allows you to participate in all aspects of the product life cycle.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment