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Product Manager Job Description: What Does a Product Manager Do?

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September 1, 2020Recruiting

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Is the position of a product manager on your company’s list of hiring needs? Perhaps your business needs someone to command the direction of your products and services. Today, you’ll learn more about the role of the product manager, as well as the qualities and skills you should include when crafting your product manager job description.

Product manager job description: What does a product manager do?

What responsibilities should you expect your product manager to handle?

Responsible for guiding the success of a product

A product’s overall success largely falls on the shoulders of the product manager. The right product manager will be able to drive growth and success, returning to the drawing board to make improvements to your company’s products as needed.

Leading a cross-functional team to improve a product

Product development is an area that often requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Your product manager needs to be able to spearhead this entire operation and make sure that all departments are working harmoniously and towards the same goals.

Defining a product and setting strategies

Building a product is one thing. Creating and implementing strategies for effectively selling that product to customers is another challenge entirely—one that needs the creativity and leadership of a product manager. Your product manager should be able to implement the right strategies for each of your company’s products.

Marketing, forecasting, and determining profit and loss

While the product manager is primarily responsible for developing the product, they can’t operate in a vacuum. In order to make sound developmental and strategic decisions, they will need to wear multiple hats from time to time. The ability to effectively market a product, forecast results, and determine profit and loss is crucial.

What qualities should a product manager have?

In order to have an impact, the product manager needs to possess a unique set of qualities and skills:

Be able to observe the needs of the market and customers

Products and services need to evolve as the needs of their customers change if you want them to endure. A good product manager is able to empathize with customer needs and identify opportunities for improvement where others might not.

Set a strong vision for the product

The product manager should be able to not only develop an understanding of your product or service but also cast vision for the product, determining how it can be improved or how it might need to evolve over time.

Have solid leadership and people skills

A product manager is just that—a manager. They need to possess strong communication and leadership skills in order to direct people, guide a team to implement a product strategy, and promote a healthy and creative environment.

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What is the difference between a product manager and a project manager?

The role of a product manager is often conflated with the role of a project manager. While the two may sound similar, they serve very different functions:

Product Manager

The main difference between the two terms is revealed in their titles. The product manager supervises a specific product or service for its entire life cycle. This involves the stages of development, testing, introduction to the market, and life. 

Products typically outlast projects, so the product manager could see many projects come and go by the time that the product or service is ultimately retired.

Project Manager

The project manager oversees time-fixed projects from beginning to end. This doesn’t need to include a specific product or service, although products and services are often involved throughout a project. Projects typically have shorter timelines and project managers are constantly passing through the various stages of their projects—taking on new projects and others are completed.

While the roles of product manager and project manager have different responsibilities and duties, the two are often required to collaborate to accomplish broader goals.

What are a product manager’s day-to-day duties?

With an idea of what the product manager’s role entails, let’s dig a little deeper. What are the specific duties they are tasked with on a daily basis?

Host regular meetings with their core team

Strong product development requires an environment that is collaborative and creative. This means that the product manager is responsible for gathering team members routinely for meetings and important discussions.

Communicate with support, sales, development, and marketing teams

The product manager needs to work in close relationship to marketing, sales, development, and support teams in order to make sure all departments are on the same page. This requires frequent communication with various department heads.

Review key data to drive the direction of a product

The product manager is expected to make positive and impactful decisions concerning the direction of the company’s products. For this reason, the product manager needs to review key marketing, sales, and revenue data, and apply that information to make good product decisions.

Organize product launch and maintenance strategy

Your product manager will not only need to discern when to launch your company’s products but also handle all of the planning for the product launch. They will also need to implement a maintenance strategy, as well as a timeline for various changes and improvements that might need to be made.

Average product manager salary

If you’re looking to hire a product manager, how much do you need to budget for their salary?

On average, product managers earn almost $109,000 per year. Of course, this figure is dependent on your business’s industry, location, the responsibilities of the position, and other factors.

Different types of product managers

Not all product managers operate in the same way. You’ll find that those with different personalities and backgrounds thrive in different roles. 

Before hiring a product manager, you should determine your business’s needs, as well as the types of products that will need your new manager’s expertise and supervision. 

Different types of product managers include the following:

People-focused

People-focused product managers understand the importance of communication and interpersonal skills and excel at building relationships with people—whether it’s customers or other employees. They are often able to address customer concerns and questions regarding products and services and are highly communicative with other team members.

Hardware-focused

Hardware-focused product managers are more tech-minded. They understand the ins and outs of products, know how they’re built, and have a firm grasp on the engineering that is involved. For this reason, they are capable of being part of technical discussions and identifying ways to improve a product’s build.

Design-focused

Design-focused product managers have a keen eye for product design—including how a product looks and how the user interacts with it. Unlike hardware-focused product managers, who are more concerned with how the product functions, design-focused product managers are often more concerned with the aesthetics of a product.

Business-focused

Business-focused product managers often take a big-picture approach to products and services. They are keenly aware of the company’s competition, the different market forces that exist, and the fiduciary responsibility that comes with developing and selling products and services that are profitable for the business.

How to hire a solid product manager

If you want to make sure you get the right product manager through your doors, you’ll want to keep the following tips in mind:

Determine what you’re looking for in a product manager

The role of a product manager can differ from one company to the next, so you’ll first need to identify your business’s greatest needs. Do you need a people-focused or design-focused product manager? Do you need someone to oversee marketing, sales, and revenue or only work alongside your department heads?

Consider the value your candidate brings

A good product manager is teachable and willing to listen. A great product manager is able to teach you about different products and services, as well as the strategies used to improve them and drive success for your business.

Identify a strong culture fit

When hiring for the product manager position, of course, you’re looking for a candidate who checks off all of your qualifications and requirements. But you should also be looking for a candidate who is going to fit seamlessly with your company culture, because of the collaborative nature of the role.

Partner with a recruiter to assist

If you’ve never hired a product manager before, you may struggle to identify strong candidates during the hiring process. A recruiter has experience placing candidates in all types of positions, including product manager, and knows what to look for in your next hire.

We’ve already alluded to the point that different businesses need different types of product managers. A recruiter can hone in on the needs of your industry and find the right type of product manager for your business.

Product managers can be tricky to find, especially if you lack the resources to source top talent. If you could benefit from a larger talent pool and better candidates overall, consider partnering with a professional recruiting agency.

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