Product management is like being a conductor of an orchestra. You are responsible for bringing together all the different instruments (engineering, design, marketing) and ensuring they play harmoniously to create a beautiful piece of music (product).
You have to have an ear for what the audience (customers) want to hear, and you must create a score (product roadmap) that will guide the ensemble to success. And just like a conductor, you’re always watching and making adjustments to ensure the performance (product) is hitting all the right notes.
But analogies aside, product management oversees a product’s development and life cycle. The ultimate goal is to create and deliver a product that meets customers’ needs and generates revenue for the company.
The Evolution of Product Management
In the 1930s, Procter & Gamble was considered one of the first companies to implement a formalized product management process. They created a role called the “Brand Manager” responsible for managing a product’s entire life cycle, from research and development to marketing and sales.
By the 1960s, the product manager role had become established within many companies.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the field of product management continued to evolve as companies began to focus more on product development and innovation. Product managers began to play a more strategic role within organizations, working closely with other departments to ensure that products met customers’ needs and aligned with the overall business strategy.
In the 1990s, the field of product management began to evolve again as the internet emerged as a major force in the global economy. This led to the emergence of digital product management as a specialized field focused on developing and managing digital products such as websites and mobile apps.
Today, product management is a critical function in businesses of all sizes and industries. Product managers ensure that products and services meet customers’ needs and align with the overall business strategy.
A Day in The Life of A Product Manager
If you think variety is the spice of life, then product management might be the career for you because no two days are alike.
Your tasks will certainly change depending on the life cycle stage of your product, but on any day, your work might look something like this:
- Reviewing and analyzing customer feedback and market data to identify trends or areas for improvement for the product
- Planning and conducting user research and user testing to validate product ideas and gather insights from customers
- Learning about competitive products
- Developing a product roadmap with stakeholders and ensuring it stays aligned with overall business strategies
- Meeting with your cross-functional team, including engineering, design and marketing, to discuss progress on the product development and any issues that need to be addressed
- Working on the product roadmap, identifying new features to add and prioritizing them based on customer needs and the company’s goals
- Speaking with key stakeholders, such as a sales representative, to get input on how the product is being received in the market and to gather feedback on any potential sales opportunities
- Working on product positioning and messaging with the marketing team
- Reviewing and approving any materials for the product launch or event
- Participating in product pricing and packaging decisions
- Creating and delivering presentations and demos of the product to internal and external stakeholders
Okay, that’s not a day in the life of a product manager (maybe a month). In fact, one of the biggest challenges for new product managers is learning how to prioritize because getting stuck in the tyranny of the urgent is not uncommon.
During a Product Chat with Kirsten Van Detta, senior product manager at LinkedIn, she described product management as “being everything to everyone, all the time” (and then provided six principles to prioritize better).’
What all these tasks do have in common is that they are discovering and emphasizing the product’s “why.” If nothing else, a product manager should be able to communicate the why of a product or feature to their internal teams and the external market.
What Makes a Good Product Manager?
The best product managers know how to create a shared understanding of the market and its problems. They’re great at communicating and can explain complex ideas in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand.
A good product manager can think strategically and always has their finger on the pulse of customer needs and market trends. Product management is a team sport, so they know how to lead cross-functional teams and ensure everyone works together to bring the product to life.
They’re not afraid of change and can adapt to new market conditions. Finally, good product managers can analyze data and metrics to make informed decisions and understand how to measure the product’s success after launch.
Product Management Skillset
- Strategic thinking
- Cross-functional leadership
- Customer empathy
- Data analysis
- Project management
- Technical understanding of the product or service
The Path to Product Management
At Pragmatic Institute, we meet product managers from every background and industry imaginable. One of our students started in nursing, then became a product manager in the medical field. Others started as engineers, marketing, sales or software developers.
In fact, some of the best product managers bring a deep knowledge of their industry through experience in some other role. They might not have even known product management was an option until after they started their career.
But no matter their background, all successful product managers have a few things in common: they are passionate about problem-solving, love learning and thrive in an environment where change is the norm. They also understand the importance of customer empathy and know how to use user feedback to inform product decisions.
Product Management Salary
There are many variations of a product management title, including technical product manager, global product manager, growth product manager, etc.
Additionally, different product seniority levels affect salaries like associate product manager, product manager II, product manager III, senior product manager, director of product, vice president of product and chief product officer.
Product management salaries will also vary depending on location, industry and company size.
We’ve collected some of the most recent salary data for product professionals.
No matter the title or experience, product managers are an invaluable part of any organization. Product management is one of the most rewarding and challenging roles, and it’s only getting more popular as the world becomes increasingly digitalized.
What is the Pragmatic Framework?
At Pragmatic Institue, we believe that product management is the backbone of any successful business. That’s why we have developed The Pragmatic Framework, a comprehensive framework that breaks down the essential activities needed to build and market products people want.
Our framework provides you and your team with a common language, helping your organization better understand your market and its problems. This allows for more effective decision-making and an improved bottom line.
We’ve been honing and perfecting our framework for nearly three decades, and it has helped thousands of companies worldwide create and market better products, streamline the way they work, and improve their bottom line.
To truly master The Pragmatic Framework, we recommend taking our courses. Our expert instructors will guide you through each of the 37 boxes of product management activities, showing you practical ways to implement our tried and true strategies.
What You’ll Learn in Foundations
At Pragmatic Institute, we know that navigating the responsibilities of product management can be challenging. Our Foundations course is designed to introduce you to the Pragmatic Framework and product management best practices.
Our course is all about gaining insight into your target audience and the market you operate in. You’ll discover how to identify what your customers truly desire and ensure that your team is on the same page, enabling you to make informed decisions and develop exceptional products.
We cover crucial topics, including identifying opportunities, fostering team cohesion and sharing market expertise. Additionally, we delve into the unique obstacles you may encounter and provide strategies for overcoming them.
Our expert instructors make the course easy to follow and provide real-world examples to enhance understanding. By the end of the course, you’ll possess a thorough understanding of the market and the skills necessary to excel in product management.