What is Product Management? Objectives, Principles, Skills & Responsibilities


Imagine what would happen if you build products that nobody wants to buy. Not only will you be left with surplus stock that you cannot sell, but you will also be required to incur considerable costs in storage. Such a situation may lead to the non-payment of an individual’s or government’s liabilities.

Here is where the role of product management is essential. The product management team builds products that sell in the market. Their primary job is to provide detailed insights into developing new products, validate what they are planning to build is required by conducting extensive market research, and keep the product development team focused and on track.

This post aims to educate our readers on what product management means, its objectives, and its principles. We will also look at the various responsibilities of a product manager and the skills required to be a successful product manager.

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What is Product Management?

Having understood the importance of product management, the question that now comes to mind is ‘What is Product Management‘? In simple terms, product management is a function of an organization that concerns itself with a product’s life cycle, right from justifying the need for a product, visualizing its concept, development, pricing, launch, marketing, and finally, working on the feedback received from the market. 

However, product management does not restrict itself to developing new products alone; it also involves designing and implementing phased-out plans to remove outdated products and technologies.

The Primary Objectives of Product Management

A successful product management framework helps an organization realize three main objectives:

  • Maximizing sales revenues
  • Increasing market share
  • Enhancing profit margins

An efficient product management process ensures the objectives stated above are met by building hugely successful products and synergising various departmental efforts within an organisation to achieve economies of scale.

Key Principles of Product Management

1. Do Not Lose Sight of Competitors

When dealing with a high-demand product, remember there will always be competition from other players trying to seize a considerable share of your market. It is, therefore, imperative to observe and incorporate the best practices followed by competitors without losing sight and compromising on the business goals and objectives.

2. Use Data for Organizational Benefits

An astronomical amount of data is available for each product that exists in the market. However, all the data available is useless unless it is used for the benefit of an organisation. Look at the figures closely and figure how you can best use them to create an effective strategy to be followed in the future.

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3. Never Forget Your Customers

The age-old proverb ‘the customer is always tight’ still holds. After all, it is the customers you are creating the product for and who will ultimately go out and buy them. An efficient product management process should always keep in mind the customers’ and their needs. If you can create a product that customers cannot ignore, rest assured it will help you reap rich dividends in times to come.

4. Focus on Quality

The desire to maximize your profits might result in a temptation to cut costs during the product production process. Though sometimes required, make sure that you do not cut costs to such an extent that it compromises the product’s quality. If customers are not satisfied with your product’s quality, they will waste no time moving on to other similar products in the market. 

Ensure that you create high-quality products that are both inexpensive for you to manufacture and affordable for the people who buy them.

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Responsibilities of a Product Manager

The job of a product manager is multifaceted. A product manager is responsible for planning and executing the various steps involved in a product’s lifecycle.

A product manager’s job typically involves:

  • Conducting market research to understand customer needs.
  • Visualizing and defining the product strategy.
  • Synergizing the efforts of various departments within an organization to ensure customer satisfaction and company profitability. 
  • Designing and implementing plans to eliminate outdated products and obsolete technologies.

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Skills Required to be a Successful Product Manager

A product manager is expected to possess an extensive skill set, primarily because they deal with different departments and products. Mentioned below is a list of skills that all successful product managers must necessarily possess:

1. Should be Data-Friendly

Companies do not expect product managers to be scientists, mathematicians, or statisticians; however, they should be data-friendly. They should be able to read, analyze, and interpret data accurately.

2. Should Possess Knowledge of the Industry and Market

A product manager should possess expert knowledge of the market and the industry, including competitors. They should be able to define and keep track of various key product performance indicators.

Related: Product Management Process

3. Should be an Expert in Strategic Planning

A product manager should help define the organizational vision and design a roadmap to achieve that vision by defining clear and realistically achievable goals using logical, critical, and analytical skills.

4. Should Possess Working Knowledge of All Departments

A product manager should possess fundamental business skills and have a working knowledge of its various departments. Even a tiny lapse on anyone’s part can severely hamper the product life cycle.

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5. Should Possess Excellent Communication Skills

A product manager interacts with the various departments in an organization and external shareholders daily. They are also required to make presentations at different stages of the product life cycle. Product managers need to possess excellent communication skills to clearly and effectively communicate their vision and strategy across all levels.

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Product Management is the lifeline of manufacturing organizations. It brings together people, processes, data, and systems within an organization and plays a vital role in driving a business’s growth. It is a function that companies cannot afford to ignore.

upGrad specializes in designing and delivering industry-relevant courses in various fields such as Data Science, Product and Technology, Management, and more in association with renowned global faculties. Explore and choose from several free courses available on our website. Contact us for information and queries on the various product management, marketing, law, sales & insurance, health, machine learning, arts, and other courses that we have on offer.

The demand for Product Managers has risen by leaps and bounds in recent years. Paying attention to the needs of the customers as well as the company is necessary. Like most other careers, Product Managers need to acquire certain skills to increase their value. To acquire these skills, they require proper training. upGrad offers Post Graduate Certificate in Product Management to help you build a career in Product Management.

Q1. Do you need to get an MBA degree to become a product manager?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions, but, there is no straight and single answer to it. This is mainly because the recruitment criteria and preferences of organizations looking for product managers vary to a large extent. Many organizations lay greater emphasis on formal MBA degrees, especially those with a greater focus on core business operations. However, some companies, mainly startups, have a preference for technical proficiency more than formal management degrees, having an MBA degree might not especially be useful to bag a job there. Nevertheless, an MBA always adds greater value to your resume and speaks for your expertise.

Q2. Can a product designer become a product manager?

The roles and responsibilities of a product designer and product manager are entirely different. But a product designer can certainly take on the role of a product manager. Experts say that if a product designer becomes a product manager, this transition can be viewed as a unicorn in the space of product design. This is because a product manager who understands the perspectives of a product designer is a combined skill set that is incredibly desirable. Even though this combination of skillsets might be too fantastic, a managerial role might not always prove to be equally fulfilling for designers, given the complex responsibilities of a manager.

Q3. Should a product manager also learn to design?

Put in simple words, a product manager need not learn how to implement product design, but they certainly need to understand design. They do not need high expertise in aspects like color theory, but they should know how the color codes impact and shape the user experience. Ideally, a product manager should possess some basic level of design intuition to provide feedback and understand some techniques in design. This will help them include designers in their workflow and make them understand organizational goals better.

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