What is a Product Manager?
© 2011 Martin Eriksson.

Simply, leading the creation of a product that fits a need. In software development, the product manager collaborates with a cross-functional team (e.g. designers, engineers, marketers, etc.) to define product requirements, build and launch software, test it with users, and iterate. I have worked as a product manager at startups and large companies, creating new products from scratch and improving existing solutions. The skills I have developed as a product manager include:

  • Product Strategy – First, defining the product to be built, understanding how it can meet a customer’s needs, and validating that it is technologically feasible. This can include tasks such as creating financial forecast models, interviewing customers, and performing competitive analyses.
  • User Experience Design – With feet firmly rooted in the shoes of the user, designing how the user will interact with and extract value from the product. I deploy tools such as user personas, wireframes, prototypes, and flow diagrams.
  • Agile Project Management – Product Managers don’t always set or lead the project management process, but must always understand it and contribute appropriately. I’ve worked in teams utilizing a variety of processes, including Continuous Deployment, Scrum, Kanban, and other custom flavors of Agile.
  • User Testing and Analytics – Product Managers should have an intuitive sense of what makes a good product but always be skeptical of their own expertise, pushing to validate their assumptions with data from actual users and drive internal learning. This outward orientation can take the form of focus group and usability testing (for products and features that are not yet launched), or user analytics combined with A/B testing or other experimentation  (for products in the wild).