Responsibilities of a Product Manager

Okay, the title of the post should really be “Additional responsibilities of a Product Manager”.

We all know that great product managers build products that the customer, and the market in general, needs — and there are numerous blogs and posts on the Internet that talk about building “market centric” products. But, is that enough? As someone put it “once you’ve discovered what needs to be built, go through hell to build and ship the product”.

In my opinion, a product manager, in addition to having the pulse of the market and knowing what exactly is required to be built, will also need to shoulder the following (incomplete list of) responsibilities:

  • Be market centric: Educate the organization (both management and R&D) on the significance of market driven products. Sales teams are always close to the management (as they bring in the money), but the products we intend to build will need to solve customer problems and have competitive edge, and in addition any innovation would make the product really successful. The focus should be in observing and listening to “customers” more than anyone within the organization.
  • Shoot down “flying monkeys”: Jim Holland (of fame) has a very interesting post – check it out here. On my personal front, I’ve had a similar experience in the past wherein the Business VP interacts with R&D and directly assigns them work completely bypassing product management. He did that based on requests from the Sales team. That was a perfect recipe for chaos and potential disaster!
  • Educate the management: Constantly educate the management, and the organization in general, with crisp presentations on market demands, market trends, competitive landscape, technology direction, et al. The intention is to educate them that the product vision, roadmap, direction, and development is in sync with the market needs and trends.
  • Get off “implementation mode”: Think and communicate like a business leader. This will help product managers gain respect from R&D.
  • Get off “sales mode”: Think and communicate in terms of P&L. This will help product managers gain respect from the entire organization.

Now that is what I call stellar product management!

Would love to hear your thoughts based on your experience.