7 Qualities That Make a Good Product Manager Great
The product managers work in agile environments where they are responsible for the successful product development. Their contribution is recognised widely because they are product experts – and in this article we elaborate on the main characteristics that a successful product manager should possess.
1. Collaboration skills
In order to lead the product development, the product manager must be a collaborative person. Since his role is to be a leader of the product (not of the process), most of the development team members will not report to him.
Also, the product requirements originate in different departments and customers, and they all are considered important by those contributing them. In such an environment, the product manager should not be a sole chief. He should be able to inspire others to follow him. He will need to have negotiating skills, while composing the backlog thus satisfying all stakeholders.
2. Define priorities
An important characteristic of the product manager is to prioritise the items in the backlog. The product manager and all team members already know the project type (and its tasks), so prioritising may be an easy task.
However, the product manager should define the product down to its basic features, and prioritise them in the proper order (across phases) in order to maximise the benefits. If the product manager performs a good prioritising, all stakeholders (internal and external) will accept smoothly the prioritised backlog, even though they don’t agree with some of its items.
3. Envision strategy
Good product managers will understand the big picture and, at the same time, will be able to manage the details. If you strictly separate the project and the product management, the consequences will affect the entire business.
On the other hand, project managers are the people responsible for all activities during the preparation and implementation of the company’s projects. They plan a project, the rules, set the deadlines, schedule of work and control the work of employees. For the product to be a long-term success, the product manager needs to envision how the product, industry and competition are going to evolve and develop a long-term roadmap.
4. Customer communication
It is not easy to employ a good product manager that has relevant practical experience. As the main characteristic, you should hire a product manager that has a large empathy for the target customers. If you develop a product for a specific client, you should be very careful if the product manager is not collecting their needs and ignoring the main customer base. You must follow how the product manager communicates with and responds to the client’s needs.
The P.M. should respect the clients. He will have to develop customer empathy and attend regular meetings with the customers. A good product manager will use all chances to learn from the current customer. Even at a regular (non-scheduled) meeting, product managers should gather insights into the client needs and how to solve them quickly.
5. Improving user experience
Today’s environment is very demanding, and an extraordinary user experience is a necessity, so the product managers should be keen to create it. In all projects, the product manager should uncover the customer needs, convert them into task items, design interaction diagrams, test and iterate on these diagrams and involve visual designers to build great visual designs.
The product manager should have a role of an interaction designer and have an additional designer to do the actual design. He should know to decide whether a design is good, or it is bad. He should be able to point out if the design satisfies the need in the most efficient way, and if all the components fit together in an intuitive, self-describing and logical way.
6. Leading the action
The product manager should strive for action; he must look for things to be done. In order for a product to be delivered, there are many things to get done and the product manager should be able to dive deeply to get them done. He should test the produced items, write marketing docs, edit code, draw wireframes, and even do PR.
The product manager should do everything needed to make the product a success. As a final consideration, the product manager should make things happen. He must have the ability and qualities to manage the team, and lead them to success.
7. Product oriented
The product manager must love products. He should be able to recognise and appreciate great products. He must be able to define the features of the product to be accepted by the customer and the other features that are not well accepted. He should be able to identify what needs have not been met and how they can be improved. If the product manager is really avid about the product, he will lead the entire team to a development of great products.