What is a Product Manager?

Cole Mercer
A free video tutorial from Cole Mercer
Sr. Product Manager @ SoundCloud | Ex-Bonobos, Gen. Assembly
4.5 instructor rating • 3 courses • 154,925 students

Lecture description

So, what exactly is a Product Manager?

How can a position be considered so essential if so few people know what it is?

You know a position has an identity crisis when even Google doesn't know what you do. And Google knows everything. Including that you broke up with your first girlfriend via Facebook (not cool) and that your first email address was sk8terkid23. Yeah, with an 8.

According to The Google:

"The product manager is an important organizational role typically in a technology company. It is similar in concept to a brand manager at a consumer packaged goods company."

Yeah.. Thanks Google. Crystal clear now.

In this lecture, we're going to talk about the WHAT so that we're all on the same page. For those of you that thought this was a Luxury Management course because you thought you heard someone say "Prada Management", the door is on your right.

Covered in this lecture:

  • What set responsibilities product managers have.
  • Whether responsibilities change throughout industries.
  • How product managers enable their teammates.
  • At the end of the day, what are product managers responsible for?
  • How fast can Cole say "ambiguity"?

Learn more from the full course

Become a Product Manager | Learn the Skills & Get the Job

The most complete course available on Product Management. 13+ hours of videos, activities, interviews, & more

12:45:06 of on-demand video • Updated July 2021

  • Understand the varying role of a Product Manager through different types and sizes of companies
  • Decide which type of Product Manager best fits one's goals and personality
  • Understand the Product Lifecycle and how it applies to every product
  • Understand the modern Product Development Process that both Fortune 500s and Startups adhere to
  • Know how to identify ideas worth pursuing and dedicating resources to
  • Understand how to get at the root of customer pain points
  • Understand and communicate customer pain by type and frequency
  • Assess the core problem of a product
  • Find and compare competitors and competing products
  • Differentiate between Direct, Indirect, Substitute, and Potential competitors
  • Understand the process of Customer Development and how it relates to being a Product Manager
  • How to find potential interviewees for product interviews, user tests, and exploratory interviews
  • How to structure and run a customer interview
  • How to model interview questions correctly while avoiding bias
  • Navigate the four different types of customer interviews
  • Find potential interviewees both internally and externally
  • Write emails that will get users and potential customers to respond
  • Build user personas based on both qualitative and quantitative data
  • Understand the difference between a wireframe, a mockup, and a prototype
  • Sketch out a wireframe with just a pen and paper
  • Use Balsamiq to create wireframes at an intermediate level
  • Use a sketch system called POP for digitizing product sketches
  • Create specs for epics and user stories
  • Properly apply acceptance criteria
  • Run a variety of MVP experiments, such as pitch experiments, redirects, shadow buttons, and more
  • Correctly evaluate which product metrics to track and which to ignore
  • Apply the AARRR framework to your product
  • Apply the HEART framework to your product
  • Track your metrics using a variety of software
  • Create a product and feature roadmap
  • Create a product backlog and properly prioritize features
  • Calculate team velocity and build estimations for product delivery
  • Understand the difference between Agile and Waterfall development
  • Understand the difference between two popular Agile frames: Scrum and Kanban
  • Learn software development concepts like APIs, mobile development, Front End, Back End, MySQL, programming frameworks, and more
  • Communicate effectively with all the stakeholders of a product
  • Communicate effectively with engineers in a way they will appreciate and understand
  • Communicate effectively with designers by focusing on the things they care about most
  • Communicate effectively with executives and higher-ups
  • Understand the role of technology in modern Startups and Fortune 500s
  • Understand the basics of "The Cloud" and Servers vs. Clients
  • Understand the basics of front-end vs. back-end technology, tech stacks, and how they integrate together
  • Understand the basics of APIs, what they do, what they look like, and how your team might use them
  • Understand how to obtain relevant experience to set up for a transition to Product Management
  • Build a portfolio that will assist in a hiring application
  • How to self-brand online and build a following pre-hire
  • What to look for in Product Management jobs and what to ignore
  • How to apply insider tips and tricks to getting hired as a Product Manager
  • Craft a resume that appeals to a hiring manager for Product Management placement
  • Ace the Product Manager interview
  • Excel beyond getting hired
English "The ambiguity of the product management role is near to its essence." Welcome back. I hope you're excited about starting this course. Let's go ahead and dive right in. In this lecture, we're going to talk about what product management actually is. And by the end of this lecture, you'll have a really solid understanding of the role and hopefully be even more excited about the rest of the course. Does that excite you? If it doesn't, you can't be a product manager. You should probably leave. I'm kidding, but this Venn diagram pretty much sums up my entire existence. I also love graphs. So product management is actually a pretty difficult role to define, which is why you don't really find the concrete, concise, good explanations just by Googling it. Try Googling it right now and I challenge you to find a really good description . In fact, the role of the product manager and their exact responsibilities change across different industries and different companies. If at one company, you're a product manager and you have one set of responsibilities, you might have a completely different set of responsibilities at another company, depending on the company, the industry, and the size. different set of responsibilities at another company, depending on the company, the industry, and the size. What we'll focus on here are the core tenants that make up product management. The first and most important thing to know about product management is that you're actually not a manager of anybody. No one reports to you, you're nobody's boss, and you definitely can't fire anyone. No one reports to you, you're nobody's boss, and you definitely can't fire anyone. This is actually by design, because a product manager needs to continuously interact with a number of different people, get maximum collaboration from their engineers and also the designers that they work with. different people, get maximum collaboration from their engineers and also the designers that they work with. Think about it for a second. If you wanted honest feedback from engineers and designers that you worked with, but you're also their boss, do you think they're going to tell you if they have any disagreements with what you have to say? Probably not. So you want them to tell you every single time that they disagree with you. A product manager is someone that sits in between multiple areas of the company and acts as a communications hub, organizer, and enabler for everyone else. So here's kind of a funny story. We once had a new engineer join our company and he asked "What do you do?" He hadn't worked with a product manager before, and before I could answer, the other engineers said "That's the person that stops sales and legal from emailing you." As a product manager, you're kind of a blocker / enabler for engineers and designers. The communication and enabling aspect of product management is a very important one. Engineers are very good at engineering and designers are very good at designing, so it's best if these people spend their time doing what they're best at. While engineers focus on solving hard technical challenges, product managers are talking to various stakeholders, users, receiving feedback and looking at metrics to decide what things can be built next and which of those things is most important and the best use of time. Have you ever used a product, either software or something physical, where many things about that product are really good, but then there's one small piece that's just really terrible? If there's something wrong with any product, you can blame the product manager. Basically, a product manager is someone who's responsible for that product being successful or not. To recap, the product manager is many things: a communications hub, a prioritizer, a researcher, a presenter, but most importantly, the responsible for the ultimate success of the product. but most importantly, the responsible for the ultimate success of the product. So your next question is probably "All right, so what's a product?" Well, I'm glad you asked because that's what we're going to talk about the next lecture.