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What is a Product Manager?

A Product Manager is a specialized type of Marketing Manager. Also known as: Product Development Manager, Brand Manager.

A product manager is someone who is responsible for the strategy and blueprint for a product or product line. They are the person who defines the ‘why’, ‘what,’ and ‘when’ of a product, and clearly communicates the business value to the product team so they can understand the purpose behind the new product or product release.

Product managers lead product teams from a product's conception through to its launch, and are behind the creative process of generating, developing, and curating new ideas. The job may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss responsibilities.

How to Become a Product Manager

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    Product Management Get Started

    • Delaware Technical Community College-Terry | Dover, DE
      Offers: Associates
    • Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington | Wilmington, DE
      Offers: Certificate, Associates
    • Delaware State University | Dover, DE
      Offers: Bachelors
    • University of Delaware | Newark, DE
      Offers: Bachelors
    • Goldey-Beacom College | Wilmington, DE
      Offers: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors
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What does a Product Manager do?

Product management is the intersection between business, technology and user experience. A product manager will scrutinize the market and competitive conditions and lay out a product vision based on customer demands. The product manager's role spans many activities - from strategic to tactical - and provides leadership within the company between different functions, most notably between engineering-oriented teams, sales and marketing, and support. Product management is above all else a business function, focused on maximizing business value from a product. Product managers should be focused on optimizing a product to achieve the business goals while maximizing return on investment.

Building great products is invigorating. Great products are built and adopted by customers when a group of committed, focused, and passionate team members play their positions to the best of their abilities. This starts with a strong product manager who feels a deep sense of responsibility for their role.

The following are some responsibilities and duties of a product manager:

  • laying out a product vision and strategy
  • clearly defining the business value to the product team
  • owning the strategy behind the product along with its roadmap
  • working with engineering to build what matters
  • planning for what their teams will deliver and when they will deliver it
  • owning the release aspect of the product
  • knowing when (and when not) to create a master release
  • managing features and dependancies in and across releases
  • managing releases with phases and milestones
  • owning ideation - the creative process of generating, developing, and curating new ideas
  • collecting, curating, and promoting the most relevant ideas into features
  • knowing which ideas should be promoted to features
  • ensuring key feedback and requests are integrated into product planning and development processes
  • defining the features and requirements necessary to deliver a complete product to market
  • leading the product team to success
  • articulating the ‘what’ and working with engineering to determine the ‘when’
  • making product decisions and often is the lead resource for the rest of the organization when deep product expertise is required
  • supporting the organizations that help bring the product to market and working directly with customers

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How to Become a Product Manager

Product managers may come from a variety of educational backgrounds, depending on their employer and the type of products they are promoting. Prospective product managers often start their education by earning a bachelor's degree in marketing or business administration with an emphasis in marketing. Students can benefit from undergraduate classes in marketing, communications, economics, advertising and statistics. Most managers train on-the-job, which can help them become familiar with a product's features. Companies that deal with larger product lines may require advanced degrees from their product managers.

What is the workplace of a Product Manager like?

As companies grow, the product management role entails three or four functions: product strategy, technical product management, product marketing, and field marketing. It is a big job. In a small company, all of these functions are performed by one person. In large companies, they are performed by four departments. But they are all part of product management.

A good number of product managers report directly to the CEO, acting as his or her representative at the product level. For technology companies, particularly those with enterprise or B2B products, the product management job is very technical. This is why many product managers report to Development, or Engineering.



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Further Reading

  • Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager www.projectsmart.co.uk

    What qualities are most important for a project leader to be effective? Over the past few years, the people at ESI International, world leaders in project management training, have looked in to what makes an effective project leader.

  • Why Companies Need Full-Time Product Managers (And What They Do All Day) www.smashingmagazine.com

    What is a product manager? What do product managers do all day? Most importantly, why do companies need to hire them? Good questions.

  • What is The Role of a Product Manager? www.aha.io

    The Product Manager is an important organizational role typically in a technology company. It is similar in concept to a brand manager at a consumer packaged goods company.

  • What, exactly, is a Product Manager? www.mindtheproduct.com

    I often get asked what a product manager is. What do they do? Where do they come from? Why do they like sharpies so much?

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