What is product management? This field involves overseeing new products and services from initial conception and development all the way to launch. Product managers decide which products are made and how they are made and released.
These professionals typically propose new ideas for product and feature development, then collaborate with designers and engineers to make those ideas come to life. They also ensure finished products meet consumers’ needs.
Below, we translate the key concepts behind product management into terms people outside the profession can readily understand.
What is Product Management?
Product management features three commonly agreed-upon focus areas, or pillars: product discovery, product planning and product development. Read on to learn more.
Product discovery means deciding what to build. It is arguably the most important responsibility within product management.
A product manager identifies new opportunities by soliciting customers’ feedback.
Product planning involves developing a guide—often called a roadmap—for product design. Using the information gathered in product discovery, the roadmap sets out a timeline, identifies key milestones and divides responsibilities among teams, all to achieve the best possible product.
Product development, the broadest of these three categories, encompasses the entire development process. This pillar includes all the stages necessary for bringing a new product to market, from the original vision through the product’s release to the consumer and beyond.
What is a Product Manager?
Product managers shepherd new products and services into being, ushering them from development to execution and release. They use market research in the discovery phase to ascertain consumers’ needs. Product managers know the competitive landscape for new products—who their most likely users are and where opportunities for improvement and expansion lie.
However, product management jobs can take on different specializations within this wide field, which we explore below.
Types of Product Managers
Each of the following roles within product management focuses on specialized aspects of the product development process.
.Data Product Manager
Data product managers incorporate data-driven insights into the development process. A data product manager sifts through this information and translates it into plain terms that colleagues can readily use during development.
.Growth Product Manager
Growth product managers are responsible for ensuring products scale up. They experiment with strategies for retaining customers and acquiring new ones by expanding consumer awareness. They analyze the results of those experiments and create plans for increasing their products’ market share.
.Technical Product Manager
Technical product managers bring design and engineering expertise to product development. They have the technical know-how to identify bugs and other potential flaws, using these insights to correct issues in collaboration with engineering and software development teams.
Product Manager vs. Product Owner
A product manager establishes product concepts and sets goals to help bring these plans to fruition. Working in product management has more outward-facing duties, as these professionals liaise with marketing and sales teams, manage budgets and focus on the business aspects of development.
On the other hand, product owners handle the ensuing execution. They implement product managers’ vision through collaboration with developers and other internal stakeholders. Product owner is a title with roots in Scrum, a framework for project management that emphasizes teamwork, speed and flexibility.
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