A Day in the Life of a Product Manager
Before we get into the tasks and events that make up a product manager’s day, it is important to understand — what does a product manager do?
Here is a quick answer:
The product manager brings a unique product that fulfills the market demand. For that to happen, the product manager collaborates with different teams and tries to bring various discussions to a conclusion.
However, it is not that simple. A Product Manager’s day-to-day activity is full of twists and turns, and every day has its challenges. And every other day is different than the previous, which is ideal for those who dislike doing the same thing every day.
But still, how does a day in the life of a PM look like?
That’s why we are here — to provide some structure to this not-so-simple question.
So if you’re someone who wants to make a transition into a product manager role, but isn’t sure what that entails daily, this blog is for you.
1. Every day is distinctive for PMs
As we already mentioned, there is no typical day in the life of a product manager. Every product manager is different and has their day planned accordingly.
If you asked three PMs to describe their day-to-day activities, all three PMs would give different answers. They oversee all that needs to be done to develop, ship, and sustain the product, from strategic planning to go-to-market launches.
Another reason is that every product and every company has different demands according to which a product manager has to plan his entire day.
While each product manager’s day is unique in this sense, ultimately, they have one shared goal. Every PM works to support the product and user and moves the business forward.
For these reasons, different kinds of product managers have different responsibilities. But these reasons also make the job of a product manager — super exciting.
2. PMs are in a lot of meetings
Product managers are more than product managers. They have multiples roles and take care of so many things like:
- Business case
- Product Roadmaps
- Communication with the business
- Decision makings and so much more
Naturally, a product manager needs to communicate with many people to fulfill these roles. This means a lot of meetings.
Meetings with customers to find out their reviews on the product — What they like, what they don’t, and what features they would like to see in future releases.
Meetings with stakeholders — To determine what information product marketing requires and how financing requires product payment systems to function and, so on.
Meetings with the development team — to see if the specifications are straightforward or if they need to be clarified. Or what to choose between two different options.
Out of these meetings, some of them occur regularly. For example, stand-ups, sprint reviews, roadmap planning, backlog refinement, product demonstrations, and so on. Others happen less frequently — user research sessions, customer visits, and product launches fall into this category.
3. PMs leverage data and feedback
Product managers are always up to date. They know what’s going on and like to find out what would happen next. All through data and feedback. For product managers, customer feedback and data are the keys to making decisions. PMs also make well-rounded roadmaps using feedback and data.
So whether it’s Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Adobe analytics, or even old-school customer emails, PMs are analyzing data all the time. Furthermore, it helps them to find out key questions like:
- Who are their ideal customers?
- How do their products interact with customers?
- What are the needs of their customers?
- What can they do to keep these customers?
Although product managers are not Data Scientists — they work closely with data and feedback. Especially if they are working in a data-intensive company and they need to communicate their plans with a Data Analyst.
4. Roadmaps as one common mission
Product managers hold the power to make a product succeed or fail. Their actions have a direct impact on the product and the product team. This is the reason why great product managers keep everyone in their organization invested. They make sure that everyone is working for one common mission: making the product successful.
They prepare the team to focus on the high-level strategy for the roadmap. And what to deliver and when. This may be the introduction of a new product to consumers, improvements to an existing one, or even a product that the company uses internally.
As the product roadmap outlines the major efforts needed to achieve the overall business goals. As well as the timeframe for introducing features and specifications that are in line with the product roadmap.
Therefore to achieve all this, PMs brings everyone up to speed and perform the following:
- Have a meeting with the sales, service, or customer success teams to update them on upcoming features, including existing limitations and plans.
- Hold a roadmap call with a key customer who is considering whether or not to extend their deal for the future.
- Hold a meeting with a consumer advisory board to get input on the product roadmap and a lot more.
5. Creating PRD
We are always talking about how product managers build great products with the help of research and planning. But what does that really mean on ground levels? And where does it all start?
This is where PRD comes in. Without it, the product team is set to fail because they would have no idea what constitutes a good build.
Therefore, a product requirements document (PRD) is an artifact used by the product manager to list the requirements for building a product. This usually includes the product’s purpose, features, functionality, and behavior.
A PRD serves as a roadmap for business and technical teams working on the product’s growth, launch, and marketing.
Moreover, The PRD is easily one of the most important documents which a PM maintains. Therefore, the PM keeps the PRD updated on a daily or weekly basis as it is always evolving.
6. Coming up with the User flow
There are few challenges for PMs and product team when they begin with a new feature or product:
- Where to start?
- How to know if something has a scope?
- Fundamentally, what does one particular thing do?
This is where PMs need to make a user flow. The user flow is kind of a blueprint that provides a starting point for both engineering and design.
A user flow is simply the path a user takes when they use a product. It has boxes indicating screens and lines indicating user behavior. Furthermore, user flow deals with how users interact with the product. What they tap or press, where they scroll, and how the logic of the interface looks like.
Creating a user flow is a critical task for a PM’s work schedule. It helps to understand how users communicate with the app or website, as well as the steps they take to complete a task or reach a target. This helps the product team to design a better user experience and meet their needs.
7. Talking to users
At the end of the day, product managers build the product for customers. Therefore, it’s no surprise that it’s a day-to-day task for product managers.
PMs need to get feedback from their end-users and incorporate it into their product and customer experience.
PMs, understand the value of their product by speaking and engaging with the users/customers. Through this process, the customer tells the PM what features they like or dislike. Based on these insights, PMs would make important decisions and trade-offs.
Good PMs understand that listening to customer complaints is the best way to know how a customer feels about a product. They do it regularly because it’s the most effective way to improve the product and build a loyal user base. It further helps to identify the weak spots in the product vision so that improvements can be made.
Sometimes PMs just start with a simple dialog. They ask several questions which can help them to understand the value or shortcomings — the product is making. These questions can be:
- Which features users find the most appealing?
- How does the product solve the user’s problems?
- What are the other problems users would want the product to solve?
8. Prioritization is the name of the game
Product managers have millions of things to take care of. They are always juggling between tasks and deadlines. So it’s no surprise that PMs must keep their prioritization game up to date on a daily basis.
However, this also makes prioritization one of the most challenging aspects for PMs.
To give some perspective, the engineer might be telling the PM to go with feature A because it’s really cool and it will take the product development to the next level. Whereas a key stakeholder might be suggesting to go with feature B. And in the middle of this, the Data Analyst might come up with a feature C while rejecting the feature A and B based on the user data.
Now the product manager has to make a decision and prioritize accordingly.
As you can see, it’s absolutely daunting to prioritize but it has to be done. Therefore, PMs use multiple prioritization frameworks to make the best decisions. Some of the most popular prioritization frameworks include The MoSCoW method, RICE Scoring, and Kano Model.
A day in the life of a product manager usually looks like a combination of all these. Sometimes it’s more or less about one focused area. But in the end, things work in a balance.
Product management is a discipline that is unpredictable and requires a lot of context-switching. They can take care of big and important matters to typical and granular matters on the same day.
All these things make the day of a product manager full of twists and turns. For this reason, hardly any day is dull in the life of a product manager.
Hope we could add a little value to your knowledge through this blog.
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