The product manager – the true growth enabler
The role of the product manager is becoming increasingly important in almost every industry, with technology- intensive organizations now leaders in this trend. With the rise of DevOps and Agile, there simply isn’t the time for long, drawn-out decision-making processes. Each product needs a single point of authority, driving the evolution and development of the product to ensure that it delivers against the requirements of the business.
One of the most popular ways of describing a product manager is that they’re something like a mini-CEO: The person who owns and takes accountability for the direction and success of a specific product. Like a CEO they must have a holistic view of their scope of responsibility – in the case of the CEO it’s the entire company, but for the product manager it’s the ecosystem of people and processes who need to come together to deliver a specific outcome.
Getting the product strategy right has far-reaching consequences
Depending on the nature of the product, the success or failure of a specific product can have far-reaching ramifications for the performance of the entire business. Once the importance of this role is understood the need to have the right people in this role becomes evident. Not only do they provide a vital interface between the product team and the relevant business units but the decisions they make drive business growth.
The role of the product manager as a champion of business growth hinges on their ability to balance several views of their product. They need to be able to take a long-term view of the product, identifying how it meets the long-term strategic growth objectives of the business, but also managing the short-term development plans, ensuring that all the teams working on the product are aligned and that any issues are quickly identified and resolved. This includes balancing competing priorities and deciding which is more important for the business and its objectives. This could, as an example, entail deciding whether to prioritize the addition of new functionality that improves the overall customer experience or that drives increased revenue. Decisions like this need to be justified in terms of the overall strategy of the company and could have far-reaching effects on key metrics such as revenue or customer growth. This doesn’t matter if the product is being sold commercially or just used as a tool by internal or external audiences, the decision-making process remains very similar. A key difference in the role of the product manager for a commercial product might be having to decide on the correct commercial model for the service, including pricing levels.
The CEO of their own domain
Looking at this it’s clear how the comparison between a product manager and a CEO is being drawn. Irrespective of the scale or user base of a product in question, its success or failure will be driven by the ability of the product manager to align the evolution of the product against the needs of the organization and its customers.
Once you see the potential impact of the product manager it’s unsurprising then that many top CEOs, including Microsoft and Google, come from product management backgrounds. One emerging truth is that there remains no clear-cut path into a product management role. Depending on the company the experience and qualifications needed may vary with some looking for in-depth technical skills, others prioritizing business experience or a blend of the two. However, a clear understanding of the business value of the product is critical in enabling it to drive business growth.To assist the growth of our community in this area we’ve partnered with Knowledge Officer, giving our community access to their training courses and helping their community to find work through the Andela network.
To learn more about this partnership click here.
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