Align your team
So far we’ve reviewed how product managers are responsible for ensuring products are valuable, usable for users and feasible to build. While much of this work takes place upfront, the product manager’s job isn’t done once a feature specification is sent to engineering. As soon as development begins, a range of questions will arise around the best way to design a certain feature based on the user’s needs. Even the best written spec of all time won’t cover every contingency. It’s the product manager’s job to champion the user’s needs at every step of the product design and delivery process, ensuring the finished product meets the user’s needs, ships on time, and is launched successfully. Likewise, there will also be unforeseen hurdles and roadblocks that the product manager must clear so the team can be as productive as possible while bringing new features to life.
Note that this execution phase is the one most associated with project management, a discipline that may sound similar to product management, but is really just one part of it. After all, product managers must understand what users need and decide what to build before they manage the process of delivering it. Still project management can be a specialization in its own right, and some organizations hire project managers (focusing on execution) to work alongside product managers (focusing on prioritization). But in most organizations, product managers are still on the hook for project managing a feature through to its launch, and ensuring all teammates are aligned around why that feature is being built.
What kinds of deliverables do product managers need to manage?
Here are the deliverables product managers must often manage as features evolve from idea to finished, launched product:
- Feature specification (PM)
- Mock-ups & prototypes (UX)
- Final designs (UX)
- Development (Engineering)
- Documentation (PM & documentation)
- Marketing collateral (Product marketing)
- Sales enablement materials (Product marketing)
- Notifying stakeholders of upcoming changes to the product (Product management, account management, support)