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Doug Arcuri
Doug Arcuri

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What is a Product Manager Anyway?

Over the years, I have partnered with insightful and talented product managers (PMs). They continuously weigh options with value, usability, feasibility, business viability, and the problem set. Here are my top appreciated attributes.

Ruthlessly prioritize and live with the customer problem. Product managers seek and live with customer problems. They think deeply about the clarity of the problem and uncover its depth. As their issue is being defined, they prioritize what matters most about those customers.

Share data about the problem widely. Product managers investigate the issue in-depth through the market, competition, user research, and other analytical tools to steer the problem to the best audience. They use A/B tests to find potential outcomes. When user feedback and data disagree, a balance is struck. These techniques are performed in an open setting with their partner’s business, team, and engineering.

Openly collaborates with the team and innovates. PM’s work tirelessly by openly collaborating with their counterparts to engage in the problem. The collaboration includes innovating and experimenting with the problem set and using techniques like startup canvas, story mapping, and personas. They incorporate opportunities to integrate with other teams in the organization.

Know about slicing the effectiveness of the product. They instinctively know that their product suite has a general rule. A third of their products should evolve to find a top market, a third of their product is causing friction and detracting from the business value, and the final third should be abandoned as no one is using it. They help uncover these boundaries.

They are expert users of technology, with sophistication. While they partner closely with design and engineering, they, too, are technology experts. They know how to measure the feasibility and fundamentals of both the engineer and the customer and, at the same time, know where their limit is.

They deliver and goaltend to their customers effectively. When products roll out the door into the customer’s hands, they prioritize their need. To keep the product operational, they measure the effectiveness of the product and watch the retention curve. At the same time, they continue to push for continuous delivery and thrive on user feedback to improve the customer experience.

Engage in innovation with engineering. Product managers are attempting to explore the problem set with further discoveries, pivoting on exploration. They bring in engineering at every point to orchestrate a direction. They spend the majority of their time with the team on this. Their co-location with the team is essential to keep this running smoothly.

Never back down from the product vision, but also look for strategic options. They trust their partners in engineering and design to find a way to increase the market, capture audience, test value, and grow their customer base. However, they never back down from their vision and take full accountability of the products they ship.

Holistic product management is a goal. Product managers know that half of their ideas do not work. Just as products are quickly grown, the right products are sunset just as quickly, without remorse. From end to end, they manage this cycle with the vision and keep motivation high for the teams that experiment and build.

Know that the best problem has a “watch this” moment. Partnering with their team to effectively experiment to attain solutions to the question is essential. There is a moment in time with each problem, a “watch this” moment, where anyone without much knowledge of the problem understands how it benefits them. These PM’s with this line of sight are best in their craft.

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