Product management relies on teams of people with a central role of a software product manager. He is the one who discovers the product with a value.
Typically, a product manager is often seen fulfilling the duties of a product owner, and project manager and sometimes interchanging job hats cause no harm.
However, we believe understanding the role and responsibilities of a product manager is important so when you build a product team you know what role each person has to play.
In this blog post, we will explain what a software product manager does, his responsibilities and basic differences between a product manager, product owner and a project manager.
Table of Contents
What is product management?
Product management term is often used so much that we actually forget what it means. Even the most experienced managers confuse their roles and responsibilities.
Product management is a strategic and tactical process. It includes market research, setting product vision, proper vision communication to involved parties, preparing strategic plans for each product stage, building product roadmaps and monetization strategies.
There is no one defined way of managing a product, as processes evolve and adapt according to organization needs, product stage, and product team.
However, all the product management processes start with identifying high value customer problems. After which, opportunity is quantified as not all problems are worth solving, that is the major spot where product managers focus on business objectives.
Roles and responsibilities of a software product manager
Market research /discovery phase – about the product, if there is a gap, the product manager looks into user personas here and competitors.
Seeking information from current customers about their problems via surveys or interviews. And preparing insights based on that data.
Assessing the competitors landscape to seek what products are in the market and their unique selling features. Also, PMs must know the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors’ products. This way PMs bring more product value they have to market. Moreover, they look into trend reports and market stats and available sales data for deep analysis.
Strategizing the right way – based on market data and industry knowledge they prepare a high level product architecture, and a wide timeline is also part of the strategy along with product goals.
Development process and collaboration – after the stakeholders approve of the plan, product managers conduct collaboration sessions with executives, investors and development teams etc. In case, cross-functional teams will be part of the product development, they are taken onboard too.
Daily scrum and sprint planning – ensure that the development design teams are sync according to the set requirements, for that they do scrums and sprint planning. This helps in better understanding of user stories and they know what should be developed.
Build MVP and seek feedback – core functionality of the product is ensured in the MVP, fancy features can wait for later. Customer feedback is taken during the MVP stage as this is the ideal stage since that is the time where product managers can learn what customers think of their product, what they need and what their dislikes are.
Product modification – Based on the feedback and product testing, a product is modified which again PM lets the development and design team to work.
Preparing future product roadmap – the roadmap shows current and future product development state and if they are aligned with the goals and visions. Software product manager ensures set goals are translated into a product.
Product-related documentation – PMs produce product related documentation on almost every stage such as PRD (Product Requirement Documents) and FSD (Functional Specifications Documents).
Continuous monitoring and product performance analyzation – Product manager role doesn’t end with the product launch, they continue improving the product performance and monitor the loopholes.
Average salary of a product manager
An average salary of a product manager is $99,405 per year as per the PayScale source in US.
Beginner level product manager gets US $69k
Median level product manager gets US$99k
High level product manager gets US$136k
Here is a screenshot from PayScale.
Is the role of product manager and the product owner the same?
We use the product manager and product owner terms interchangeably but their roles are not the same.
Product managers envision the product strategy based on market data and business objectives whereas product owners are more responsible towards executing the development or technology stack proper implementation.
Startups often are short on budget and keep product managers and expect them to fulfill both roles.
Product managers think of product value, seek potential customers’ pain points, list down features which could bring value and do competitive market research. Whereas, product owners work with cross functional teams and deliver tasks on time with product testing.
What is the difference between product manager and project manager?
Product managers and project managers work closely and sometimes interchange their responsibilities. Their skills overlap in terms of leadership and time management but there are some basic differences.
First, a product could be a physical software or service satisfying a certain group of users. It has a lifecycle from planning, development to market launch and stays long term.
A project is a one-time product or service. The projects come with their timeline (start and end date) and have expected delivery.
DIFFERENCE – a project is a temporary on-time attempt whereas a product isn’t temporary rather stays longer before retiring from the market (if happens). A product can include several projects inside whereas a project is a single entity at a time.
Now what’s the difference between product manager and project manager roles?
A product manager does deep market research and finds gaps where a product could be built. He sets the product vision and communicates that vision to the involved stakeholders. PMs devise strategic plans and do have future roadmap for product monetization and growth.
A project manager is the one who manages tactical tasks like breaking down the requirements (given from client) into doable tasks with a timeline of design and development. He allocates resources, monitors tasks completion and communicates development with the client or involved stakeholders.
Ask 5 product managers about their job description and you will get 5 different answers. Unlike few professions, product managers don’t have a distinct list of job descriptions or responsibilities simply because the role of product manager changes with every stage of the product development.
To eliminate confusion regarding what role a software product manager plays, we devised this blog post. In case you are still wondering or looking for a product manager and want to hire one, we can help.