A Quick Guide to the Product Management Team

The product manager is responsible for developing the roadmap and building great products. They are the keepers of the product vision, and the ones who know the user and the need that needs to filled like the back of their hand. But another vital part of product management is team leadership. Let’s get to know the team you will be working with:

Team

Who is in the Product Management Team?

Product Manager 

YOU!

A product manager can be a difficult role to sum up in only a few words, since they wear so many hats. But very basically, a product manager is the keeper of the product vision, making sure that everyone involved is on the same page and keeps to the roadmap they’ve designed.

There’s a lot of confusion over what a product manager is and is not, and it can be different across products as no two are identical. In a Slack AMA session, Lauren Peterson (Senior PM at Nava) spoke about how “I rarely expect to feel like I’ve got a full handle on my role before 6-8 months.” Finding your place in the team will take some time, but everyone gets there in the end.

Project Manager

Not a product manager!

A project manager helps to keep developers on schedule, and helps to remove anything that’s blocking them from doing their job. A project manager will usually be the person running the meetings. As a product manager you’ll primarily work with the project manager to schedule how and when products get worked on by the developers.

Developers

Also known as software developers and computer programmers, the developers turn the ideas and designs that product managers come up with into actual apps, products and features. If products were houses, they would be the builders. It can sometimes seem like they’re speaking a foreign language, but once you hit your communication rhythm it’ll feel natural to you.

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Quality Assurance Engineer

Or QA engineer for short. The QA engineer tests the developers code and the usability of the app, product or feature and makes sure that it behaves the way it’s designed by the product manager. They work with product managers to understand what to test for. The importance of QA engineers can sometimes be overlooked, but as they are the person in charge of maximising the performance of the final product, they’re a valuable asset to any product team.

UX or UI Designer

User Experience or User Interface Designers assure that the product is easy to navigate, simple to understand, and pleasing to the eye. The UX designer holds a more technical role, taking care of things like functionality, wire-framing, and prototyping. The UI designer is slightly more like a graphic designer, taking care of the aesthetics of the finished product.

Customer knowledge will be the main talking point between the UX/UI designer and the product manager, as the designer will take what the PM knows about the behaviours and preferences of the target market and use that to guide the product design. As PM, you’ll be communicating feedback from early adopters to the designers.

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Product Marketing Manager

They might be the only person who knows the customer as thoroughly as you do. They’ll be the person taking point on things like pricing, marketing strategy, A/B testing, and developing user personas. Sometimes it can be hard to draw the line between Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager, and there’s certainly some overlap between the two roles at times. In an ideal situation, you’ll work very closely together and count yourselves as a team.

What makes a great product team?

  • OKRs: Objective Key Results are a method of creating goals and tracking progress. They give you clear objectives and keep multi-disciplinary teams on the same track. Google uses OKRs to create stretch goals, meaning the teams won’t reach the targets set by the OKRs, but they’ve have achieved more than they would without them.
  • Clear accountability: Knowing who is in charge of what, what they’re expected to contribute and by when.
  • Rules for decision making: An important part of conflict prevention is knowing where the authority lies. Have a clear guide
  • In person meetings: Slack is great, but there’s something to be said for face-to-face interactions when it comes to getting things done. Meeting your team away from the screens can lead to new ideas being bounced off each other, and leads to greater understanding.
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