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“What does a product manager do all day, anyway?”
Ah, the age-old question. In the simplest possible terms, product managers decide what features to build next. But product management responsibilities don’t end there. This simple answer barely begins to scratch at all the different things product managers do all day.
Deciding what features to build next can take so many twists and turns that it seems like product managers pretty rarely have a standard day. For this reason, product management is the perfect field for those who do not want to do the same work day in and day out. Being comfortable with change is the name of the game.
But we want to try and provide some structure around what can seem like chaos, and that’s why we’re here today.
Let’s go back to our burning question:
To satiate your curiosity, we’ve outlined some typical product management responsibilities that a PM might encounter on a day-to-day basis. These are organized under five categories:
Keep in mind that the role product managers play can shift depending on the stage of discovery and delivery, product type, company size, job level, and even company culture.
Product discovery is the process of identifying what your users really need. This knowledge is used to strategically develop features that are valuable, usable, and feasible. Tasks for a product manager during discovery can include, but are not limited to:
The most effective product organizations prioritize what to build next based on a clear understanding of user needs and their organization’s clear objectives. This way, big product decisions aren’t made impulsively or via intuition. PMs might do some of the following to prioritize what to build:
Product managers hold the fate of a product in their hands; their decisions impact not only themselves, but everyone in the company. That’s why great PMs ensure that everyone across the organization is invested in a common vision on where the product is headed, and why. To get everyone on the same page, product managers may:
Once something is deemed worth building and properly prioritized, it goes into delivery. Delivery is all about building and releasing valuable new products and features that both function and delight. Delivery-focused tasks include the following:
Sometimes, PMs are called mini-CEO’s. That may mean a variety of things, but something we think about is making sure the morale of the whole team is strong. Given how many moving parts it takes to release a feature, a great PM chips in where possible. Some of these things might include:
As you can see, product management is a discipline that is wide in scope, and that requires lots of context-switching. In a typical day, a product manager might go from a meeting about high-level strategic planning straight to a chat with a developer about a granular issue, then hop on a call with a major customer immediately after.
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What did you think about the post? Was it helpful to you aspiring product managers out there looking to gain a better understanding of the field? For seasoned product managers, were you able to relate to the tasks listed above? Where do you see overlap and how do your days differ?
We hope we helped you better understand the day-to-day responsibilities of the complex, varied, and increasingly popular product manager role.