To be successful, a company must design, build, test and market its product efficiently. In order to achieve this goal, and bring the product to life, the Product Manager (PM), plays an absolutely crucial role in the outcome of a successful product. What is the role of the Product Manager, and what are his responsibilities?
The role of the Product Manager (PM)
As the bearer of the global vision of the product and its trajectory, the Product Manager plays a strategic role that consists of accompanying a product from its conception to its implementation on the market. Attached to a product, he/she masters and knows the entire scope.
The PM also contributes to market research and analysis tasks and establishes the necessary information that outlines the future trajectory of the product and provides information on how the product can be developed and marketed.
As a true leader of the product flow, the Product Manager ensures that the entire product scope runs smoothly and manages the evolution of its ecosystem. He/she ensures that the product constantly meets the needs of the users and collaborates closely with the various departments of his/her organization such as marketing, sales, support and design teams. He/she must therefore find the right balance between the three needs, make decisions and compromise accordingly.
The Product Manager is both a guide as he/she leads the company and the team in this direction throughout the product cycle, but also a facilitator as he/she will make the work of each team member easier by guaranteeing the same level of information for all, bringing business value at each step, and making sure that the product roadmap is respected and the features delivered on time.
The Responsibilities of the Product Manager
The main responsibilities of a Product Manager include :
Mastering the strategy and vision of the product: the Product Manager has a clear and global understanding of the product. He is able to understand both the customer’s intentions and the expectations and needs of the different departments in his organization.
The Product Manager is responsible for the product strategy, he/she masters the business plan and defines all the steps and indicators necessary to achieve a successful product.
Being responsible for the elaboration of the roadmap: the Product Manager defines and prioritizes the next features of the product to be developed while taking into account the different issues and expectations of the business and users.
Coordinating teams and projects: the Product Manager makes him or herself available and coordinates the various stakeholders and the various product development projects. He/she also ensures that all parties have the same level of information (feedback on progress or problems) and thus guarantees compliance with the elements established in the roadmap and ensures the proper implementation of product features.
The Product Manager and the Agile Environment
In agile or traditional organizations, in large companies or startups, the Product Manager plays an important role in defining a relevant user experience and a successful product.
This is an increasingly sought-after role in agile environments. The Product Manager, who is close to the field and to the stakeholders, will work closely with the Product Owner.
The role of the Product Manager is not clearly defined in the Scrum Guide; in some contexts, the role of the Product Manager is entrusted to the Product Owner.
These are two complementary roles that can be easily confused and can be introduced in a similar way in agile organizations. The nuance remains very fine, but the two roles come together around the notion of “Product” through backlog management and product development.
Unlike the Scrum Guide, the role of the Product Manager is a well defined role in the SAFe® Framework.
The Role of a Product Manager in SAFe®
According to the SAFe® Framework, the Product Manager is responsible for building the product. They will work with many stakeholders to better understand the customer’s needs and on the basis of these inputs, they will develop a vision for their product, a roadmap, and finally the expected features. The development of these features will then be delegated to agile teams, and the Product Owners will take responsibility for them.
A Product Manager can be SAFe® certified and acts as the internal voice of the customer for the Agile Release Train (ART) and collaborates with the product owners to develop and continuously communicate the customer’s vision to the development teams. He also provides a priority-based backlog for the ART.
The Product Manager leads the creation and distribution of new products, facilitating their full life cycle and maintaining focused and efficient internal development processes.
Each product organization is unique and highly dependent on the agility of its organization. Regardless of the methods applied, the nature of the product, the Product Manager’s primary mission remains to create a successful product. While the methods applied by Product Managers may vary from team to team, product to product and manager to manager, Product Managers have one primary mission: the creation of a successful product.