What is a product manager?

The popularity of the product manager specialty has grown several times over the past 3 years. We see a lot of ads about finding a product manager, training courses for specialists, cases, etc. But not everyone knows who he is, what tasks he performs and what he is responsible for, some even confuse the product manager with the CEO.

In this article, we will take a closer look at this specialty, talk about responsibilities and area of ​​responsibility. If you are planning to go to study as a product manager, but are still in doubt, the information from the material will help you make the final decision.

Who is a product manager

The position of a product manager has appeared not so long ago, so articles and different specialists give different definitions. But in all there is one whole: the product manager is the person in the company who is responsible for creating and launching a new product on the market.

Confusion is also created by the fact that all organizations interpret the product differently. You can see this if you look at current vacancies on any job search site. For example, one company is putting forward such requirements… Other such

One might think that firms themselves do not fully understand who they are looking for. But the point is different: the list of responsibilities and area of ​​responsibility of a product manager cannot be the same everywhere, because companies create different products. It depends on the field of activity and the goals set.

If you look at hundreds of vacancies and conduct in-depth analysis, it becomes clear that a product manager is a specialist who works at the intersection of business, marketing and programming. He controls the work on a new product at all stages, interacts with investors and users, and continues to develop his brainchild after the end of the technical implementation.

This is not an easy, but very promising profession. If you are interested in getting it, you should be ready for continuous all-round development depending on the emergence of new tasks. A product manager is not only a manager, but also a programmer, marketer, designer, etc.

This is what a typical product manager looks like.
This is what a typical product manager looks like.

What is the role of the product manager

Let’s take a closer look at the role of a product manager. The main task is to manage all processes for the development of a new product. This includes accepting or rejecting ideas, ensuring technical implementation, and generating detailed reporting for further analysis and improvement of business processes.

The complete list of responsibilities depends on the specific company. When studying the next vacancy, pay attention to this block first. For example, one firm trusts its product and delegates the authority to generate new ideas. Another organization independently creates a development strategy, including the development of the necessary products, and the manager remains in control of the implementation.

It is also important to distinguish product from project. The first breaks down the creation of a new product into several stages (projects), the second (usually there are several of them) controls the implementation of each stage on time within the framework of available resources. Conventionally: the product creates a strategy and hires assistants (project managers) who report to him on each stage of work.

While each stage is being implemented, the product interacts with all specialists involved in the work, conducts market analysis, identifies the target audience, conducts tests, etc.

The product manager came up with something cool
The product manager came up with something cool

Consequently, the role of a product manager in a company is to generate ideas, create a development strategy, recruit a team of specialists for further implementation, plan and monitor the implementation of assigned tasks.

What skills should a product manager have?

A qualified product has the skills to help them complete their tasks.

Strategic thinking

One of the key skills of a product manager, which is used to generate ideas and create a development strategy.

The goal of any product is to create value and value for customers. Therefore, the manager analyzes the audience, market conditions and competition, creates a “picture” of the idea and presents it to the team (management). Moreover, the analysis does not stop after the end of the implementation, it is done constantly.

For example, a platform has been made for generating accounting documents for small businesses (invoices, acts). Everything works, everything is fine. Without an analysis of needs, sooner or later the system will “fade” and become unclaimed. But through constant market research, the product manager identifies new trends and customer pains. New functionality is introduced, the consumer is satisfied, the system continues to bring him benefits and value.


It is impossible to achieve the set goals without competent planning, distribution of tasks in time, and formation of a general roadmap. Therefore, a product manager must be able to not only come up with ideas, but also plan their implementation in the smallest detail.

Building communications

The product manager regularly interacts and communicates with dozens of specialists involved in the work: programmers, designers, marketers, etc. It is important to be able to competently communicate with any person in accordance with his character and temperament and convey his thoughts.

And since a project is a set of interrelated elements, which are created by different specialists, stable communication between them is important to obtain a good result. The manager must be able to establish it.

A roadmap is a good way to create communication between different departments. If it is worked out in detail, company employees will know who to interact with at one stage or another.

Records management

Product creation is not complete without documentation. The product, as a leader, must be able to navigate in it and compose a new one. Most often, a product manager is faced with the following types of documents:

  • pre-project – description of the idea, terms of reference, terms of reference;

  • design – work execution plan, technical control, schedule;

  • working / executive – a detailed description of the product, reports on the work performed, drawings, schedules, additional plans, individual tasks;

  • final – report on the work done, operation manual, etc.

  • accounting (rarely).

Working with contractors

Often, to implement the plan, it is necessary to purchase additional materials, conclude cooperation with new specialists, purchase tools, developments, etc. To quickly obtain resources at a minimal cost, you need to be able to work with contractors, negotiate, negotiate additional conditions, etc.

The rest of the product’s skills depend on the field of activity. For example, if he works in an app studio, he should be able to prototype apps to test ideas. This reduces the burden on developers.

What are the responsibilities of a product manager?

Consider the responsibilities of a product manager. As mentioned earlier, the main task is to develop new products in line with trends and user needs. Other responsibilities:

  • collection of information;

  • formation of practical conclusions;

  • derivation of product requirements;

  • creation of a work plan, distribution of roles among staff;

  • product promotion and sales.

Product manager’s area of ​​responsibility:

  • conducting market research, market analysis to determine the basic needs of customers;

  • implementation of product lines, testing new ideas;

  • conducting competitive analysis, comparing similar products by numerous characteristics;

  • development of marketing communications;

  • interacting with the sales director to create a sales strategy;

  • work with clients and the sales department to assess the implementation results;

  • generating long-term and short-term sales forecasts, providing analytics to management;

  • bringing new products to market, profitability analysis (ROI);

  • creating a marketing strategy together with marketers;

  • pricing based on market research, production costs and expected demand;

  • scheduling and defining operational requirements;

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Let’s look at a simple example. The management set the task: to create an information application on the most popular mobile platforms for football fans. The product will divide the work into several stages:

  • Analysis of the mobile platform market, identification of the most popular ones.

  • Market analysis of information applications for football fans, definition of the initial concept.

  • Planning the main stages of development in accordance with the original concept.

  • Gathering a team, identifying project managers for each stage.

  • Choosing ways to monetize (profit) the product, create a marketing strategy.

  • Control and evaluation of the work performed.

  • Market entry, launch of an application advertising campaign.

The example is simplified as much as possible for a general understanding of how the product works. After entering the market, he continues to work, constantly analyzes, generates ideas for improving the current product to attract new users.

How the performance of a product manager is assessed

The work of a product manager is evaluated according to several criteria, which are divided into two groups: internal and external.

Internal criteria are how much the product managed to organize interaction within the team and how much each specialist has access to the necessary information. If this is done at a good level, all team members are satisfied, which means that the internal work efficiency is high.

There is no quantitative assessment of the factors of this group, everything is subjective here. But if the team has a good atmosphere, everyone is tuned in to work and achieving goals, then the product manager copes with his duties.

External factors include numerous product metrics on the market (the list is determined on a case-by-case basis): financial results, customer satisfaction, etc.


There are several KPIs that measure the performance of product managers. Different companies have their own sets, as a rule, they are specified when hiring or launching a new product:

  • The number of purchases and new users in relation to the current audience. Metrics show the popularity of the product the manager and his team are working on.

  • Marginality. The actual sales are compared with the planned figures.

  • Active users. Estimate how many people use the product on a daily basis.

  • Customer Retention Rate (CRR). The retention rate of new users, because not only growth is important, but also the number of people remaining.

  • ROI. An indicator of the return on income in relation to advertising costs. Shows whether the investment has paid off or not (the indicator must be more than 100%).

Some companies additionally evaluate the effectiveness of the product manager in terms of development time, the success of launching a pilot version of the product, etc.

Profession market

At the beginning of the article, they talked about the popularity of the profession and its relevance. Let’s take a look at some statistics:

New tech companies emerge regularly, the demand for product managers is growing, the number of vacancies and the average salary are increasing. Therefore, getting a new qualification is important today.

Thus, a product manager is a specialist in creating new ideas and controlling their implementation. Successful work requires strategic thinking, planning skills, and building reliable communications within and outside the team.

You can learn more about how to become a product manager on our annual course “Profession: Product Manager”

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