In today’s blog, we have insights on ‘What do Product Managers do’ from Pushpak Teja, currently working in the product strategy team at MoEngage.
He has five plus years of work experience in B2B SaaS companies across software development and product management.
The Classic PM Venn Diagram
This Venn diagram is one of the prevalent questions or diagrams you will see when somebody describes Product Management. An interesting article, ’10 Venn diagrams that describe product management’, is also a good read.
Manage a Team to Take Action on Necessary Features
Product managers primarily work with these three teams: your design or UX team, your tech team, your engineering team, and your business folks.
You get your business goals. For example, in your quarterly or annual plans, your business tells you that this is what you want to focus on, say to increase the number of customers you have by 100%. Or you want to increase and improve your product’s monetization.
Working with Design, Tech, and Business
There’s a business goal you start with. And your solution is based on whatever is given. And based on whatever user understanding you have, then you work with your design team, in that entire process, from that design to delivering it to the tech.
Now your tech team builds that application. And you work with the business or go to market teams to release it to the customers.
Broadly, that’s the cycle you do. Again, it sounds like you’re actually working with multiple teams to get stuff done without you actually not doing much yourself. Right. And that’s what you do as a product manager, precisely. Again, it’ll be discussed in much more detail as we move further.
Break Down Complex Problems into Actionable Parts
For breaking down problems into actionable parts, we categorize them into strategic and tactical tasks with respect to external and internal stakeholders.
This is an image of the product manager role. It’s a two-by-two matrix, where the top is strategic, the bottom is tactical, the left is external, and the right is internal.
Suppose we were to classify Product Manager tasks in a two-by-two matrix, between strategic and tactical tasks and internal and external stakeholders. In that case, this is what it looks like.
Strategic tasks with external/internal stakeholders
So if you work on, let’s say, strategic tasks, you’ll work on the product vision, and product roadmap, and you prioritize product features.
And if you move towards external tasks, you work on positioning the product in the market; you look at which opportunities and gaps exist in the market that you can fix, what are my competitors doing, what are the gaps, and how can I differentiate myself as a product; who are my users, interview the users who are user segments and personas. So that is the external and strategic side of it.
If you look at the internal side, again, these are also a lot of things that the Product Manager works on, but you don’t really name them. Like, portfolio planning, for example, what does your product portfolio look like?
Think of companies like Facebook. They have tons of products, and you call them product portfolios. What is their messaging portfolio like? What is their ad portfolio like etc.?
And what is the business case for any problem you want to solve? What kind of technical partnerships do you need to enable whatever you want to solve? ‘Build versus Buy’ is a very common problem, PMs are involved in, especially strategic PMs.
For example, for a PM working with Product Strategy, if there’s a solution they want to build, there might be an ask from a team that we are still evaluating whether to build it or buy the product because it apparently takes nine months to build it. So can we buy it and get things faster? So that’s a strategic decision we need to make.
This is the strategic angle of things, both internal and external. And if we see business and technical comes in internal; market and users comes in external vision.
Tactical tasks with external/internal stakeholders
Now, if you look at tactical, it includes a lot more actionable and task-based elements. You see backlog grooming, a place where all of your technical issues or anything you want to get done in your product is a product backlog. It can be as simple as you wanting to track your user data or mask your user data using the GDPR principle, or you want to implement an XYZ feature; anything is a backlog. And you need to update the backlog every single time so that it’s ready for development to pick up and keep writing product requirement documents (PRDs); you would have heard about PRDs if you have done some product management course. Another one is acceptance testing is a lot of a QA task, but often, when your release is about to happen, Product Managers become those QAs to test the product that is developed.
If you move towards external, you do A/B testing; you achieve product-market fit; you build wireframes and get user feedback; you take user requests; you monitor the feedback coming in through App Store, Play Store, through in-app kind of mechanisms.
And towards the internal side, you look at business analysis and sales support. Then, finally, in technical, you look at system analysis, API specifications, and queries. So you get involved in a lot of broad arenas.
It might be hard to take in the initial set. Still, before we get to defining each and everything, this is a broad picture where a product manager is doing tasks ranging from, say, setting a product vision, and looking at innovation, to doing basic SQL queries to get data on what users are doing and doing A/B testing on certain features. So it ranges very broadly from tactical to strategic and internal to external. That was it for today.
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