Roles & Responsibilities of a Product Manager

 In Tech Corner

It’s time for a new blog post from our #BeTechReady campaign! In our latest article, we talk about one of the most important roles in the software industry – product management. Our guest author is Zuka Genebashvili who works as a Product Manager based in our Tbilisi Office.

Zuka has been a part of the Singular Team since 2016 when he started his career as a Project Manager. He progressed a lot throughout the years, so this year he joined our team of product managers. Inspired by the responsibilities that come from product management and how it affects the creation of an outstanding product, Zuka decided to go in-depth about the role and shed some light on the basics.

However, no matter if you’re interested in starting a career as a Product Manager, or you’re simply want to learn more about the field, this article is going to help you find the information you need.

Most of the products fail because companies believe that once you have great developers, then you can create great products. But, in my opinion, having the right person as a Product Manager can efficiently raise your success rate in creating an outstanding product.

zurab-genebashvili-blog-post
Zurab Genebashvili, Product Manager

The role of a Product Manager is often misunderstood in the IT sector. The main reason for that might be the wide range of responsibilities. This can vary from company to company, depending on the industry, but it can also vary even from team to team within a particular organization. In this article, I will try to give you a general understanding of this important role and its responsibilities.

What is Product Management

As I mentioned, Product management involves various duties and responsibilities. In different companies, some of them can be owned by other teams or departments, but mainly as part of the job role, Product Managers focus on the following:

  •  Vision and Leadership
  •  Product Strategy and Market Research
  •  Product Plans and Roadmap
  •  SDLC Management
  •  Communication with Stakeholders

I will try to give you a brief explanation and dig into each of these components.

Vision and Leadership

Every product manager with their product team makes decisions about how to evolve and upgrade the product on almost a daily basis. However, to build an outstanding product, you need to execute micro-decisions aligned with a broader overall product direction. We’re talking about a product that meets both the market and customer needs; one that is different and better than what the competitors offer. Having this product direction is one of the most significant aspects of product leadership.

That being said, working as an effective product manager requires the appropriate leadership skills. You should maintain a shared vision, set realistic and achievable goals, and understand the benefits your product will deliver.

Product Strategy and Market Research

The product is created to fit the needs and requirements of the market and the people who are going to use this product. That’s why you should know your target users and research what they need. It is equally important to research your competitors as well. Based on this feedback and data analysis, you will know what works, what doesn’t, and then make the needed change. Also, you should work with other relevant teams to transform this feedback into future updates of the product.

On the other hand, you should always have the product strategy in your mind. Transforming the industry’s domain knowledge into a high-level strategic plan for your product results with:

  •       Identifying goals and objectives
  •       Shaping them into OKRs (objective and key results)
  •       Following the brand strategy of your company
  •       Aim to achieve some important principles:
    • Build and create once, then sell many times
    • Create scalable and maintainable product
    • Build and update the product continuously, so that it fits the target market

Product Plans and Roadmaps

The product vision and its strategy should be shaped into a Product Plan and Roadmap for proper execution. A product roadmap represents a shared source of high-level objectives, features & functionalities. Also, it includes information on all the product’s priorities and rough timelines of the release of new features.

Product roadmaps set the agenda and the expectations for the entire organization, including internal and external stakeholders. It turns both the vision and the strategy into a concrete plan for turning the ideas into a reality. 

The product roadmap exists in several different forms because different stakeholders need different information from the Product Manager and their team. Roadmaps can be:

  • External for Clients
  • Internal for Executives and Sales
  • Internal for Development Team

External for Clients

This type of roadmap is created for Clients, so it should contain different information than the other roadmaps. External roadmaps should mainly be:

  • Easy to read and visually attractive
  • Generalized and contain high-level features
  • Prioritized

The main purpose of external roadmaps is to let the clients know the product’s future directions.

Internal for Executives and Sales

Unlike the external roadmap, this one is kind of between the external and internal roadmap for the development team. It contains more information than the external roadmap made for the clients but fewer details than the development one. The main purpose of such a roadmap is to direct the attention where needed and highlight how the product team is meeting the company’s high-level goals and objectives. These roadmaps are mostly organized monthly or quarterly to show progress.

Internal for Development Team

How this roadmap will look is mostly dependent on how the actual team is working. Nowadays, most of the development teams are using Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban. Internal roadmaps can frequently be organized by sprints. These roadmaps show specific amounts of work that the product team plans to do within a specific timeline.

SDLC Management

Being a part of a software development team means that as a Product Manager, your main focus has to be on SDLC management (Software Development Life Cycle). Without an efficient SDLC process, you can’t achieve anything in the long run. The SDLC process includes many steps coming from different teams, but I will focus on those steps for which the product team is responsible. These include:

  • Identify Requirements
  • Plan
  • Build
  • Test
  • Deploy
  • Maintain

Requirements can be different by type and source. The most common types of requirements are:

  • Change requests
  • Improvements
  • Bugs

The requirements mostly come from:

  • Clients
  • Internal Stakeholders
  • QA Team

Planning and designing requirements again are dependent on how the actual team is working. In agile methodologies, these requirements are divided into such structure:

  • Initiative
    • Epic
      • Story
      • Task
      • Bug
        • Sub-task

As soon as requirements are identified and planned, the development team starts building/coding a new version, while the QA team is testing it. This becomes a loop and it’s going on until everything within that sprint (or any timeline the team is working within) is closed. The next step is to deploy it to the Client’s Staging environment and after you get the green light, move the version to a Production environment.

Last, but not least, is the Maintaining released version, so that it stays effective and free of bugs.

Communication with Stakeholders

As a good Product Manager, you should be able to manage the communication with different types of stakeholders, such as:

  •       Customers
  •       Users
  •       Senior Management
  •       Marketing
  •       Sales
  •       Support
  •       And other business people

 

All those people will contribute and have a certain role in the product’s success. Your responsibility is to effectively communicate with all of them, as this will help you a lot in the process of creating an outstanding product.

The main challenge in communication with the stakeholders is that you have to be comfortable working with a broad range of people. These people can come from different fields, with different backgrounds, and have different interests.

The takeaway

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Product Manager’s responsibilities vary in the industry, and even from organizations within the same field. In conclusion, having a great Product Manager as part of the product team is one of the key factors for achieving success. Most of the products fail because companies believe that once you have great developers, then you can create great products. But, in my opinion, having the right person as a Product Manager can efficiently raise your success rate in creating an outstanding product.

Huge thanks to Zuka for taking the time to explain why the role of a product manager is extremely important for software creation, as well as what responsibilities come with the role itself.

We hope that those of you who are curious about product management, have now a better understanding of it. If you wish to start your career in product development, make sure to follow us on social media or check out available vacancies.

At Singular, we’re always on the lookout for talented and ambitious people to become a part of the Singular Team and join us in creating the world’s greatest gaming software.

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