Product manager responsibilities

Specific responsibilities vary depending on the size of the organization. In larger organizations, for instance, product managers are embedded within teams of specialists. Researchers, analysts, and marketers help gather input, while developers and designers manage the day-to-day execution, draw up designs, test prototypes, and find bugs. These product managers have more help, but they also spend more time aligning these stakeholders behind a specific vision.

On the flip side, product managers at smaller organizations spend less time getting everyone to agree, but more time doing the hands-on work that comes with defining a vision and seeing it through.

Broadly speaking, though, a good product manager will spend his or her time on a handful of tasks. 

  • Understanding and representing user needs.
  • Monitoring the market and developing competitive analyses.
  • Defining a vision for a product.
  • Aligning stakeholders around the vision for the product. 
  • Prioritizing product features and capabilities.
  • Creating a shared brain across larger teams to empower independent decision-making.

Product manager vs. product owner

Whether or not a team is adhering to a certain agile practice (and which one), can further muddy the waters when it comes to what a product manager does. For instance, if a team is practicing scrum, then they also need to have a product owner.

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