Product Managers’ Strategic Value Is Rising
Back in 2011, Martin Erikkson from Mind the Product published an image that began to explain the role of the product manager. The graph shows product management at the center, touching every component of the business.
Although much has changed since its creation, the main point of Erikkson’s image still holds true today. Now more than ever, product managers at every level bring value to the product and beyond. Their deep understanding of the customer base help drive decisions across the organization, and their strategic value is greater today than it was even a few years ago.
While the fundamentals of product management (including roadmap creation, requirements definition, performance measurement, and customer obsession) remain the same, the daily tasks of today’s product managers have become much more cross-functional across teams. This means that today’s product managers are no longer simply tasked with managing project boards, prioritizing bugs, and speaking with customers; they’re now looked at as experts who can help other internal teams make decisions and stay at the top of their fields.
How a PM’s value has changed
We wanted to get to the heart of what’s changed for product managers, so we turned to experts from Gap, Concur, Strava, Care.com, and SiriusXM to help us out.
Although their answers were varied, the responses from our expert PMs shared one common theme: Product management’s goals and KPIs are tied to every aspect of their businesses, and their work as a product management team cannot be siloed from the other teams at their companies. Their jobs are critical in delivering almost all organizational goals.
When asked, “How do you think mobile product managers’ roles in the organization are changing?” our interviewees shared the following thoughts.
“Everyday, I feel like another person in our company is reaching out to the product team for advice. I think product people are becoming known as the experts, the ones who can help drive design, engineering, marketing, and even content decisions. Being a product manager is no longer just about being able to manage a JIRA board and accept tickets; product managers are looked at more and more like strategists and are getting involved in more facets of the overall business.” Tom Padula from SiriusXM
“The longer that Agile practices and other development methodologies are around and in use, the better organizations are becoming at defining how they expect their product managers to create value. To me, this means that the PM role is increasingly able to rely on their supporting teams and focus on streamlining the complex conversations necessary to build great products. A shared lexicon and expectations of roles and responsibilities helps my teams and I make development and strategy decisions faster so that we can spend more time working on a better product.” Dane Eppler from Concur
“It really depends on the organization itself. For example, for older companies where the legacy channel may be stores and/or online sales driven, mobile PMs have to be really good at marketing internally to tout the benefits of the mobile channel and the differing needs of the mobile user. However, once the company is bought in and establishes a mobile channel strategy, all of sudden you have to change hats and be the know-it-all mobile SME. You’ve championed this change, and now everybody is looking to you to lead the charge.” Andrew Wang from Gap
“Traditionally, a management team would create the strategy and projects would be passed to the product managers to implement. Teams were even reformed for each project, it was very inefficient. Now, the teams all have a clear KPI that they are in charge of, and the team defines the strategy with the input from around the organization. This is much more scalable and efficient.” Ethan Hollinshead from Strava
“There are two vectors to think about. 1) Innovation in mobile is happening at a faster rate than other platforms. There are new features rolled out for the iOS and Android operating systems every year, and you have to think about how you leverage it. There are new interfaces with assistants like Alexa and with chat bots like Facebook Messenger. Mobile PMs have to stay on top of what’s happening in order to understand which technologies make the most sense for their business and are worth investing in. 2) As mobile continues to gain more share of users’ time and dollars, it’s an ever-increasing part of any company’s product portfolio and more and more companies are adopting a mobile first mindset. Mobile PMs should be ready to lead the end-to-end product vision. Lauren Lee from Care.com
Product management has moved front and center in many business strategies, and will continue to expand its reach in the years to come. We hope these insights from our expert product managers get you thinking about what’s next for you and your company’s product roadmap.
To hear more from the PMs featured above, grab your free copy of 6 Lessons from Expert Product Managers and let some of the best brands in the product world help shape your 2018 strategy.
If you’re wondering how you can take what you learn and apply it to your plan, we’re here to help! Learn how Apptentive can help you hear from and understand 100x more customers—at scale. Drive app downloads, create seamless customer experiences, and your validate product roadmap with our mobile communication tools by requesting a demo.