Product Manager: The Role and Best Practices for Beginners (2023)

First, a confession: When I was asked to apply for a product manager position at Atlassian ten years ago, I didn't know what product management was. This was not unusual. While product management has been around in one form or another for several decades, the title "product manager" has only caught on less than 20 years ago. Yet I find talks at conferences titled "What Makes a Product Manager?" (Actually, I kind of gave himone of those conversations.)

What is a product manager?

A product manager is the person who identifies a customer need and the broader business goals that a product or feature will fulfill, articulates what success for a product looks like, and assembles a team to turn that vision into reality. After 10 years of studying the craft of product management, I have developed a deep understanding of what it means to be a product manager.

Confusion about what a product manager is is likely due to the novelty of the role. While professionals in more established professions like design and engineering can segment themselves by specialization, product managers still define what the role should be.

Martin Eriksson, Product Leader Extraordinaire and founder of ProductTank, first summed up product management simplyVenn diagramsthat puts the product manager at the intersection of business, technology and user experience. Fifteen years ago, Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware, called the product manager "Product CEO.“

I agree with both Eriksson and Horowitz, but not always with how their definitions are interpreted. People look at the Eriksson chart and think that product managers drive products in all three disciplines (UX, technology, and business). However, what he is really saying is that product managers must balance the three needs and make difficult decisions and tradeoffs. People hear Horowitz's analogy and think that product managers have some kind of special authority. They don't, but like a CEO, product managers set goals, define achievements, help motivate teams, and are accountable for results.

Product Manager: The Role and Best Practices for Beginners (2)

Product Manager Responsibilities

Specific responsibilities vary depending on the size of the organization. In larger organizations, for example, product managers are integrated into specialized teams. Researchers, analysts, and marketers help gather information, while developers and designers manage day-to-day execution, creating designs, testing prototypes, and finding bugs. These product managers have more help, but they also spend more time aligning these stakeholders behind a specific vision.

In contrast, product managers in smaller organizations spend less time trying to get everyone to agree and more time on the practical work of defining and executing a vision.

In general, however, a good product manager spends his time on a handful of tasks.

  • Understand and represent user needs.

  • Market observation and development of competitive analysis.


  • Defining a vision for a product.

  • Align stakeholders with the product vision.

  • Prioritize product features and functionality.

  • Create a shared brain across larger teams to enable independent decision-making.

Product Manager vs Product Owner

Regardless of whether a team adheres to a specific agile practice (and which one), it can further undermine a product manager's work. For example, if a team practices Scrum, it must also have a Product Owner.

Product Manager: The Role and Best Practices for Beginners (3)

While a product manager sets the product's direction through research, vision, alignment, and prioritization, the product owner must work more closely with the development team to implement the goals that the product manager helps define.

See how this tends to play out:

Involved in everyday activities

product manager product owner

Working with external stakeholders

Working with internal stakeholders

Helps define the product vision.

Help teams implement a shared vision

Describe what success looks like

Describe the plan for success.

Hat Vision, Marketing, ROI

Has excellent team work and compliance

Work at a conceptual level

Involved in everyday activities

But responsibilities can change slightly as team composition and practices change. For example, if the team isn't using Scrum (let's say they're using Kanban or something else), the product manager can prioritize the development team and play a bigger role in making sure everyone is on the same page. Level. book page. On the other hand, if the team is using Scrum but does not have a product manager, the product owner will usually take over some of the product manager's responsibilities.

All of this can become very opaque very quickly, requiring teams to be careful to clearly define responsibilities or risk falling back into the old methods of software development, where one group writes requirements and plays them against each other. When that happens, expectations are misaligned, time is wasted, and teams are at risk of developing products or features that don't meet customer needs.

Best practices and tips for becoming a great product manager

Just as there is no such thing as a team, one of the most exciting aspects of the product manager role is that there is no one way to do it. Over the past two decades, art has exploded in popularity and focus. Unlike designers, who have successfully segmented themselves into interaction designers, graphic designers, motion designers, and so on, product managers often struggle to articulate their distinct strengths.

(Video) Product Manager Roles And Responsibilities | Who Is A Product Manager? | Simplilearn

To complicate matters, only people areHe starts to dedicate himself to product its intended discipline. While older generations of engineering, design, finance or marketing “fell into product management”, younger generations start their careers with product management in mind.

That said, there are a handful of skills and practices that any good product manager needs to develop.

prioritize ruthlessly

A colleague recently compared product management to being a politician. It's not far. Both the product manager and the politician are given a certain amount of resources. Each role requires the professional to make the most of these resources to achieve a greater goal, knowing that he will never be able to meet everyone's needs.

At any point in time, the product manager may have to choose between a feature that makes one big customer happy but annoys 100 smaller customers; maintain a product's status quo or take it in a new direction to expand its reach and align with broader business objectives; or whether to focus on the bright and shiny or the dull and important.

A clear understanding of the costs and benefits of each option guides the product manager towards the right decision.

Product Manager: The Role and Best Practices for Beginners (4)

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Know the location of the country

Product managers need to know the state of the country better than anyone else. Very rarely do they start from scratch. Product managers are likely to fall in love with something that is already working. If they start executing without taking the time to orient themselves, they will make bad decisions.

Good product managers put the brakes on and ask questions first. If you're just starting a product management job, set aside the first few months to talk to as many customers as possible. Talk to as many internal stakeholders as possible. Understand the business model. Understand the story. Understand how different people are influenced. Understand how decisions are made. Only then can you start making decisions for yourself.

(Video) What It Takes To Become A Great Product Manager

Empower your team to make their own decisions

Product managers cannot make all the decisions. Believe me. I tried. At the end of the day, I almost always have unread messages. I often double and triple the book. And I could spend the day answering questions without finishing.

But touching every decision isn't the product manager's job, at least it shouldn't be. One of the keys to great product management is empowering your team to make their own decisions by creating a shared brain or way of making decisions and a set of criteria for scaling them. When someone asks a product manager a question about a decision they could have made themselves, nine times out of ten it's because that person doesn't have enough context to make the decision on their own. Great product managers build that context.

Learn without influencing authority

I know a junior product manager who is almost universally respected by her team, although initially many of her team members would have left her for a more senior executive if given the choice. how you changed your mind He invited all 30 team members for coffee and listened.

Influence takes many forms. Listening to people and understanding how they are being influenced is the first part. Figuring out how to engage them with your point of view is the second. Becoming a great storyteller, even if you don't have any data to back up your point, will take you far. Some people won't be convinced until they see you do the work. Understanding which levers to pull with which person is the key to leading without direct authority.

Unwrap the thick skin

Commitments inevitably make people unhappy. The trick is to make the right tradeoffs first and then be able to explain why you made that decision. If you're good at explaining your decision, someone might not like it, but most of the time they'll respect the way you made it. And even when they don't, great product managers find a way to deal with it.

great product managers

To me, really good product managers are one in a million. They are the people who can do it all and set incredible product visions. It's the rare breed that thinks ahead, is highly influential, and can guide people through the rationale behind a decision and persuade them even without data. People like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk come to mind.

We idolize these people in part because there is satisfaction in putting a face and a name to a great achievement. But 99% of the time, great products aren't made by a great thinker. They are made by teams of good people doing really good work. The product manager's job is to develop his unique way of directing that work.

Product Manager: The Role and Best Practices for Beginners (5)

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(Video) Product Management: An Overview - Key Responsibilities

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Product Manager: The Role and Best Practices for Beginners (6)

Jerife Mansur

(Video) What do product managers do? - Agile Coach

Sherif Mansour has been involved in software development for over 20 years. He is currently a Distinguished Product Manager at Atlassian. As a longtime member of Atlassian, he is responsible for Confluence, trying to solve problems across all Atlassian cloud products and building a new product incubator within Atlassian. Sherif has also played a key role in the development of new products at Atlassian such as Stride, Team Calendars and Confluence Questions. He currently leads product strategy for Atlassian's newest product, Team Central. Sherif finds creating simple products difficult, as is writing a short, simple bio.


What are the best practices of an effective product manager? ›

Product managers usually have to:
  • conduct market and customer research.
  • identify user needs and assess solutions.
  • develop product vision and strategy.
  • set meaningful goals.
  • develop product roadmaps and prioritize features.
  • predict future development timelines.
  • define technical requirements.
Oct 21, 2022

What should a new product manager do in the first 90 days? ›

Within Your First 90 Days as a Product Manager
  • Choose a product feature that can be prioritized by your team;
  • Begin shaping necessary product development processes with all relevant stakeholders;
  • Ship your first feature or product function;
  • Begin work on your next product development priority.
Sep 29, 2022

What are the 5 P's of product management? ›

The 5 areas you need to make decisions about are: PRODUCT, PRICE, PROMOTION, PLACE AND PEOPLE. Although the 5 Ps are somewhat controllable, they are always subject to your internal and external marketing environments. Read on to find out more about each of the Ps.

What are the 4 P's of product management? ›

The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion. They are an example of a “marketing mix,” or the combined tools and methodologies used by marketers to achieve their marketing objectives.

What is your strongest skill set as a product manager? ›

What Skills Does a Product Manager Need?
  • Technical expertise.
  • An understanding of UX.
  • Business savvy.
  • Critical thinking.
  • The ability to analyze and interpret data.
  • Research skills.
  • Problem-solving.
  • The ability to prioritize.
Jan 17, 2023

What does a product manager do day to day? ›

Part of a product manager's responsibilities is to search out, gather, handle, and prioritize customer needs and wants. Knowing the market requirements is key to a successful product. They need to understand why customers buy products as well as what the competition is doing.

What is the minimum salary of a product manager? ›

Product Manager salary in India ranges between ₹ 5.0 Lakhs to ₹ 35.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 16.4 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on 26.5k latest salaries received from Product Managers.

Can you be a product manager without coding experience? ›

Can you be a product manager without knowing how to code? The short answer to this is: yes! A talented product manager can without a doubt do their job without writing a single line of code. In fact, 95% of them do.

What are the common mistakes of a product manager? ›

Avoid these common product management mistakes
  • Following customer requests to a 'T' There's a big difference between what customers want and what they need. ...
  • Focusing on the solution rather than the problem. ...
  • Misunderstanding customer needs. ...
  • Neglecting business opportunities.

How do you structure your day as a product manager? ›

Regularly Scheduled Product Management Meetings
  1. Weekly (or bi-weekly) core team meetings.
  2. Bi-weekly (or monthly) sprint session with your development team.
  3. Monthly support-team meeting.
  4. Monthly sales meeting.
  5. Weekly marketing meeting to review strategy and campaigns.

What is 30 60 90 day product plan? ›

The 30-60-90 day plan provides a personal definition of success for your first three months on the job. It describes the most important thing you can do each month and identifies what you're doing and why. The plan should also include any metrics that may help you gauge if you've been successful.

Do product managers own P&L? ›

In most organisations, the PM does not own the P&L. The P&L ownership lies with a general manager or the business unit leader. A PM deals with financials when preparing a business plan, and tracking usage.

What is the hardest part of product management? ›

What's the hardest part of product management? Our research shows that the hardest parts of the job for many product managers are organizational comms, managing deadlines, team alignment, and balancing different responsibilities.

What are the 3 P's of production? ›

These elements are the famous “3 p's of manufacturing”: people, processes, and products.

What are the top 3 qualities you have that would make you a good product manager? ›

9 Qualities of a Great Product Manager
  • Strategic Thinker. A product manager is a mini-CEO of sorts. ...
  • Passion for products. Product managers should love products. ...
  • Empathizes with the customer.
  • Interviews customers. ...
  • Aspires to build great user experiences. ...
  • Keeps Score. ...
  • Ability to Prioritize. ...
  • Collaborative leader.
Apr 10, 2014

What is the top priority of a product manager? ›

A key responsibility of product managers is to identify the most impactful projects to work on. This requires a critical process: prioritization.

How many hours a day does a product manager work? ›

Product managers work full time, usually more than 40 hours per week. They often work longer hours that extend into evenings and weekends, particularly when there are deadlines approaching. They spend time on computers, conducting research, and reading and writing reports.

What are the 5 M's of production? ›

Lean is an all-encompassing philosophy that takes the 5 M's (Man, Material, Machines, Methods, and Money) and harmonizes or helps orchestrate them together for the best possible outcome in your manufacturing operations.

What is product management in a nutshell? ›

It is a role that intersects between the user experience/customers needs, technologies used to create a product and the business that maximises values from a product built with the technology. In order words it marries these three aspects in such a way that creates values for both the user and business.

What are the 5 stages of product management cycle? ›

What is a product life cycle? The product life cycle is the progression of a product through 5 distinct stages—development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The concept was developed by German economist Theodore Levitt, who published his Product Life Cycle model in the Harvard Business Review in 1965.

What are the 3 C's of brand positioning? ›

The 3 Cs of Brand Development: Customer, Company, and Competitors. There is only a handful of useful texts on strategy. Any MBA student will be familiar with these: Competitive Advantage and Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter.

What are the 3 C of branding? ›

Building a strong brand is an arduous task under constant attack by three challenges: cash, consistency, and clutter, also known as the three Cs of branding.

What are the 3 Cs of positioning? ›

This article explains why you must understand the 3 Cs of successful positioning—your customer, channel, and competition—as well as you understand your B2B product, service, solution, or company.

What personality fits product manager? ›

The first and closest type of a great Product Manager is ENTJ, or ones who are Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging. ENTJ is the Commander. ENTJs strive for a structure in their daily work. They expect a work environment to be evaluated based on a set of clear guidelines.

Why should we hire you as a product manager? ›

Example Answer:

“I decided to apply for a product manager role with this organization because I'm attracted to the company culture. After looking into the company for a bit, I came to the understanding that you value putting quality products on the market, and you're looking for someone who also values the customer.

What is the most important thing a product manager does? ›

Every product manager must understand the market, the needs of the customer, the capabilities of the engineering team, and the vision of the leadership. Keeping all these elements in mind, a product manager must chalk out a product strategy and roadmap that is sustainable, feasible, and affordable.

What are the core responsibilities of a product manager? ›

A product manager's job description involves planning and executing the product's lifecycle. It also includes curating and prioritizing the requirements of products and customers. Product managers work closely with the sales, marketing, and engineering teams for various aspects.

What are the 2 responsibilities of product management? ›

Gathers and analyzes market and competition research data. Collaborates with internal teams to work on product requirements.

What should a product manager not do? ›

10 of the Most Common Mistakes Every Product Manager Should Avoid
  • Trying to work backward from a preconceived solution.
  • Substituting customer "wants" for true innovation.
  • Misidentifying features or product specifications as benefits.
  • Mistaking novelty for real value.
  • Allowing communication gaps to compromise your vision.
Jul 8, 2019

Is it stressful to be a product manager? ›

Product management can be quite stressful due to the level of autonomy and responsibility given. Learning to balance the expectations of the role with the ambiguity that surrounds it is key to a successful and healthy career as a product manager.

Why are product managers paid so high? ›

The salary depends on various factors such as experience, skills, location, and company. Product managers are in high demand because they can see the big picture and think strategically about product development.

Is product manager a stressful job? ›

With great responsibility, comes great stress. Due to its versatility, the role of a product manager is extremely challenging. Although this career is also very rewarding and fulfilling, it can often be frustrating for many reasons.

Is SQL required for product manager? ›

Knowing SQL is not vital to Product Management success, but it is a tool that helps you discover problems faster and indicates where to find possible solutions.

Do product managers need to learn SQL? ›

Do product managers need to know SQL? In summary, here are 3 reasons why product managers should learn SQL: In-depth understanding of your data, to meaningfully contribute to data decisions. Ability to uncover insights that are not available with standard tools such as GA, mixpanel etc.

Is product management a lonely job? ›

Being a product manager is lonely.

A universal aspect of Product Management that people don't expect is just how lonely it feels to be a PM. You could be working with a team of 100 people, be in 10 meetings a day, and yet often feel super-lonely because no one else shares your struggles or truly understands them.

What is your weakness best answer for product manager? ›

As an example, many product managers lead with the weakness of “I wish I were more technical”, but it's rare that technical knowledge would fundamentally change the way that a product decision was made. We want to see that you understand where to focus your time, rather than just calling out random weaknesses.

How do you survive the hardest part of product management? ›

Get in the building

Go meet your stakeholders. Go up a floor to where your execs live. Great products are always more than the sum of their parts. They're the direct result of teams who work well together, who aren't letting miscommunication and misalignment tear them apart.

What would you do in the first 3 months of a new job as a manager? ›

In your first few months, your primary job is to listen, ask questions, and learn. New managers on my team tell me that the thing they most want to understand is how to calibrate their expectations around “what's normal.” One effective way to do that is to look at specific scenarios together with your own manager.

How much equity should a first product manager get? ›

One of the roles you'll have to eventually fill as a founder is VP of product management. Like every other invaluable member of your startup team, you'll need to decide how much their equity grant should be. In case you're wondering, it should be 0.5% to 3%.

What should a product manager do every day? ›

Part of a product manager's responsibilities is to search out, gather, handle, and prioritize customer needs and wants. Knowing the market requirements is key to a successful product. They need to understand why customers buy products as well as what the competition is doing.

What is the hardest thing about being a product manager? ›

What's the hardest part of product management? Our research shows that the hardest parts of the job for many product managers are organizational comms, managing deadlines, team alignment, and balancing different responsibilities.

How can I be a good manager with no experience? ›

There are lots of ways to demonstrate that you are ready to make the step up to a management position.
  1. Act as a mentor to inexperienced staff.
  2. Manage individual projects.
  3. Come up with new ideas.
  4. Show leadership within your team.
  5. Leading a group & planning events.
  6. Overseeing finances.
  7. Speak up & get involved.
Nov 2, 2021

How to make a 30 60 90 day plan? ›

How to Make a 30-60-90 Day Plan in 5 Steps
  1. Write the company mission. ...
  2. Create the first 30 days' objectives. ...
  3. Create the next 60- and 90-day objectives. ...
  4. Provide ample resources for the employee. ...
  5. Evaluate progress.
Dec 22, 2022


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