Responsibilities of a Product Manager
At ThuderAct, we talk a lot about empowering product managers with the business insights they need to be successful. As we are big believers that customer voices must be heard to drive loud actions, and to sure ThunderAct is solving the problems real product managers face, we did a survey to find out what responsibilities and challenges they take on every day. We asked about responsibilities, challenges, points of contact, and data accessibility. So, what does a product manager do exactly?
Product managers own the success of their product line and are the ones charged with having a deep understanding of customers and competitors. They must have the skills to think strategically but also make quick decisions. Product managers are often called the CEOs of their product, but they don't have direct authority so leadership skills are crucial. While the degree of power given to a product manager varies by company, one thing that seems universal is that PMs have a huge number of responsibilities. In most organizations, product managers must set the product strategy, execute it, and evaluate success and customer adoption.
Set the Strategy
90% of product managers in our survey report that they set product strategy. To do this, product managers rely on cross-functional teams of course, but strategic decisions should be rooted in data-supported business insights. Unfortunately, 53% of product managers also answered that they don't have enough data to make informed decisions. This makes setting product strategy a big challenge.
Product Managers are also the driving force behind executing their strategy. They make sure products get launched, updated and phased out when necessary. Moving products along a roadmap means they have to have a constant pulse on the market and know what both customers and competitors are doing. Successfully executing a strategy requires the product manager to lead large cross functional teams that include sales, marketing, operations, procurement, pricing, and more. While the product manager leads the orchestra, full commitment and synchronization is required to make the strategy execution a true success. We’ll explore these cross-functional teams in more depth in the next blog post.
After setting the strategy and seeing it through, PMs then have to evaluate success. 80% of PMs we surveyed said they were in charge of evaluating key performance indicators. If the right indicators are chosen, they can both determine whether a product is achieving what it should and identify risks.
Performance measures typically fall into one of these categories: business performance, product usage, product quality and product development. Because many indicators within these categories fall into the responsibilities of other functions, the cross functional team needs to be in total agreement on the strategic direction and priorities of the product line.
Interestingly, only 34% of our survey respondents reported tracking financials. Many PMs reported that they do not have access to their CRM, likely because of the high licensing costs. Visibility into financial performance is critical for a product manager to prioritize the product roadmap and create a competitive edge that will increase the revenue of the product.
In a perfect world, product managers would get plenty of time to focus on the responsibilities above. In reality, we found that many PMs spend so much time on escalations (sourced often by R&D, support and sales) and other urgent short-term responsibilities, that it leaves little time for long term planning. The top two challenges reported in our survey after a lack of data were “lack of time to handle the wide range of responsibilities” and “too many fires to put out”. The role of a product manager is incredibly important for the success of a product line. They need tools to help save time so they can focus on the big picture.
In the next post we will share more survey results and discuss the main contact points for the product manager so stay tuned!
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