Because of its breadth, product management is one of those roles that can be pretty nebulous. An IBM description for the role of Product Manager defines a PM as “responsible for managing the full product lifecycle; from strategic planning through product development, product launch and post-launch activities.”
If you’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you’re a product manager in disguise but aren’t quite sure, ask yourself some of the following questions.
…Participate in assessing client needs and informing design?
Arguably one of the most exciting aspects of Product Management is being present on the ground floor. Conducting research to develop a product and working in tandem with talented people to actualize it is the foundation of this role. If your spirit animal is DiCaprio in Inception, it’s possible you’re a Product Manager. Here’s your totem.
…Work on a small team but manage large projects?
57% of respondents in a 2013 survey of Product Managers indicated that they worked in a department with 10 or fewer people. In a ship this tight, you have to pull your weight and be willing to lead. Does your team turn to you when things go South after a new release? Oh Captain, my captain—you might be a Product Manager! Here is your peg leg.
…Analyze and act to improve product functionality?
Product Managers are problem solvers. They dive into product and process to diagnose friction points, then come up with ways to resolve them. Do you instinctively identify and unravel functionality issues with a Sherlock swagger? Congratulations: You’re a Product Manager. Here’s your funny hat.
…Do the heavy lifting but forego the glory?
Slate puts the work of the humble PM in the following terms: “The product manager ideally does not take credit for the deep skills of the people with whom she works. Instead, she works as a peer to draw the necessary connections between them and keep them in sync.” If you are the magical elf that makes your founder look like Santa Claus, Merry Christmas, little PM! Here are your pointy shoes.
…Work across departments and organizational levels?
Product Managers act as liaisons linking departments. They are constantly communicating needs, limitations, and vision between varied disciplines. If you sometimes feel like you are the only translator in a Tower of Babel, you might be a PM. Here’s your migraine medication.
If you’ve answered “yes” to the majority of the questions above—yup, you’ve got it—you’re probably a secret product manager. Whether or not your title reflects it, your contributions to the development of your product or service are vital.
Feel like you’re cut out for product management? Attend an information session for our Product Management Immersive.