Product Management Overview: Part 1 of 3

Why and who should read this article: read this article if you want to know the basics of a product management role.

This is a Part 1 of three series:

  • Part 1: Product Management (PM) role, Becoming a PM, Product life cycle, and Understanding the company.
  • Part 2: Creating an opportunity hypothesis, validating a hypothesis, and taking an idea into action.
  • Part 3: Working with design, engineering, and marketing. Finally, completing the product lifecycle.

What is the product management role:

A product manager is someone who represents customers. A product manager is a person responsible for a product. He/she has multiple skills. On a day to day, a PM understands the business and execution strategy of a product. They know how to set the vision of the product.

How to become a product manager:

A product manager should be knowledgeable in product design, engineering, and marketing. PMs come to this role from various stream like development, designing, marketing, business, quality assurance, business analysis, and other such related areas. It’s always an added advantage for PMs to know programing.

Below are some skills that a product manager should know:

  • A fundamental understanding of product design, engineering, and marketing.
  • Understand who are the customers.
  • Business strategy: A product manager should know the business strategy of the company. They should understand who all are players, how a company makes money, and understand the revenue vs. profit.
  • Execution: a product manager should know the execution.
  • Vision: they must know how to set the vision, see the right opportunities by using data and metrics.
  • Defining the success: they must know how to define the success criteria of a product.
  • Marketing: they must know how to work with marketing, to market the product.
  • People skills: they must know how to work, appreciate, motivate, and lead people.
  • Prioritization: PMs must know how to say “no”. A product manager understands what the customers want and prioritize to build limited features in the product.

Types of product managers:

  • Technical product managers: A technical product manager is someone who is managing a technical product, like an API for a system. They focus on how products are built. They are not involved in coding.
  • Strategic product managers: someone who has a business background and a compliment to a technical product manager.
  • Other: like growth product manager, mobile product manager, etc.

Product management development approaches:

There are ways like lean development, waterfall development. Sometimes, companies prefer a hybrid of lean and waterfall approach.

Product development lifecycle:

  1. Find/plan the opportunity: a product manager finds the right opportunity and plan for it. Product managers write PRDs (Product Requirement Documents) in collaboration with all stakeholders from business, engineering, design, analytics, and other teams. A Product manager also decides if the product will be built using lean or waterfall approach. There could be a plan to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) using the lean approach.
  2. Design the solution: PMs work with design team to design a solution. The engagement from engineering is important to assess the technical feasibility of the design.
  3. Build the solution: Once a product is defined and design is agreed, then the next step is to build the solution. There would be a need for a PM to negotiate releasing a quick solution or a long term solution.
  4. Share the solution: This step is about sharing the product to the world. In this phase, if the set-up supports, there maybe a need of a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) who focuses on marketing. A PM will focus on the internal details of a product. Releasing a product maybe done in phases: a pilot, small release, and other subsequent releases. There may be a need to run marketing campaigns, ad, etc. to market the product and get the customer’s feedback about the product, to improve it for the customer’s needs.
  5. Assess the solution: In this phase, PMs should evaluate the team’s situation like are they happy working on a next project and anything to be done differently. After the release, real data is available to assess the product. The after launch analysis of the product can help improve the further steps in the product development.

Strategically understand the company:

A PM should think of these things below:

  • Understand why does the company exist: It is critical to understand why the company exists, what are core beliefs, and mission statement of the company. This should be the guiding principle in planning for a product. Understand customers and personas. In a simpler way, a persona is a customer profile type using the product. Let’s say, the product is a web browser,. An example a persona is a web developer. For the product web browser, it is critical to understand how this persona will use the product, web browser. Understanding use cases are important. A use case is a function of a product used by a persona. Understand if a product is build for an enterprise or for a customer.
  • How do we know if a product is good: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) metrics can help determine if a product is good. Vanity versus actionable metrics: vanity metrics are those that are not directly related to product’s performance. These can be for some secondary or other benefits. Actionable metrics are the metrics that are directly related to the performance of the product. Analytics, surveys, and interviews can help to collect the right metrics about a product. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metrics to assess an overall customer satisfaction of the product. It measures how like it is that a user would suggest the product to others. NPS is a % of promoters minus the % of detractors out of all replies. Scale is 1 to 10. Detractors score from 0 to 6. Promoters score 9 or 10.
  • What products are we building: It focuses on the company’s current products.
  • Other things to consider: Plan for the roadmap of the product for the short term and a long term strategy. Understanding the competition & climate is also important to understand if the product we are building is competitive and fit to the market. A great analysis is called 5C analysis, to assess the opportunity for a product. The five Cs are: Company, Customer, Collaborators, Competitors, and Climate.

In the next part, we will go through creating an opportunity hypothesis, validating a hypothesis, and taking an idea into action.


  • The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager by Product School, Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, et al.

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