If you are looking to expand, but you aren’t sure how to make all the pieces come together, perhaps it’s time to consider a new responsibility or team member to guide you towards success

When you are starting out in business, often job roles are not clearly defined and teams work together to fill gaps. However, if you are serious about expanding, there are some job roles that should not be overlooked.

People who organise, streamline, open communication channels and implement structure can be valuable assets for any business. While many of these roles are often performed by sophisticated software or divided among upper-level management, there are some job roles that are irreplaceable, even with advanced technology.

One such job role is that of Product Manager. Let’s take a closer look at what the job requires before we start asking some questions about how such a job role might fit into your organization.

What are the responsibilities of a Product Manager?

Product managers are responsible for guiding the teams that create and sell a product. Their job is to motivate, inspire and listen to various people, as well as make decisions, create a strategy and launch products and services. It is a complex role that requires excellent interpersonal skills as well as the depth of knowledge.

The position may also include marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss responsibilities.

A product manager should be a well-rounded individual with skills and experience in every area of your business, such as engineering (if you are in physical product development), computing (if you are in SaaS, FinTech or any other computing product development), customer service, HR, accounting, marketing, strategy and logistics, and general leadership and decision making.

Your product manager will become responsible for defining every aspect of the product/s or service/s your business offers. It is a role that requires a person of extensive knowledge and practical application as well as strong leadership skills.

Product managers should feel accountable for:

  • Strategy: Outlining a product vision and strategy. The product manager should clearly articulate the business value to the product team so they understand the intent behind the new product or product release. Products need to be in line with the businesses core values and reflect the brand, and the product manager should understand how to link them seamlessly.
  • Releases: Product managers need to create a timeline and motivate teams to stick to deadlines. The product manager is responsible for defining the release process and coordinating all of the teams to ensure deadlines are met. This includes managing manufacturing, marketing, customer service and sales teams to ensure that all departments are communicating, well-coordinated, and ready for launches.
  • Ideation: Product managers oversee the creative process of generating, developing, and curating new ideas. They determine which ideas should be promoted to development and which should be reworked, or even scrapped. They consider customer feedback, discuss results with shareholders and manage and mitigate issues that might arise during product development.
  • Features: Working with product engineers, product managers make decisions about certain features that help to define a product or enhance the customer experience in some way. The aim of the task is to ensure that the product fits with the specifications of the brief and that it functions as expected.

The role of Product Manager is often overlooked in new organizations. The role is often filled by a number of people collaborating to develop a strong business. However, as your business expands, it can become difficult for 3 or more people to agree on decisions that are best for the development of a product or service. This is why a product manager is a good addition to your team if you want to expand, but are finding decision making difficult.

Do You Need a Product Manager on Your Team?

Obviously a person with the skills and experience required to be an effective product manager is highly qualified, and, therefore, can command a high salary. So before you make a decision about whether such a professional is right for your team, ask yourself:

  • What do you want a product manager to change/fix in your organization? What is it that you are missing?
  • Do you not already have the in-house expertise that would help you address the current issues?

This yes/no questions might help clarify if you really need a new team member or just an internal reshuffle.

Does your product have a vision?  
Is it aligned with the market needs?
Are you sure your product delivers value to your target audience?
Do you have a direction? A long-term and a near-term roadmap?
Are you capable of maintaining the strategic focus across all levels of the organization?
Do you know who your competitors are and the specifics of their product/s?
Do you have an established feedback loop with your clients?
Do you always rely on evidence when making a decision?
Do you validate your assumptions prior to making decisions?
Do you have a groomed and prioritized product backlog?
Do you know why past product failures have occurred and how to mitigate them in the future?
Are you comfortable saying ‘no’ to stakeholders and explaining your decisions?

 

If your answers were mostly ‘no’, it might be time to consider how the right new team member could help reshape your business and support its expansion.

However, the catch is that you need to be open as an organization to outside criticism, changes and developments. Assuming you hire a consummate professional, they will join your team, assess your products and research your competition.

They will take their time to make some judgments and then deliver their response. This can sometimes be difficult for people to hear, so be sure that you are ready to grow and accept the guidance of a new team member.

  • Share your concerns, as well as your pride, about any products or services you offer.
  • Talk about the reason for your product or service, how it answers pain points, why it is unique or what you think is missing the target with customers.
  • Foster relationships between departments and allow your product manager to spend time getting to know everyone in your organization. They will become a key player to your operations.
  • Enable your product manager to work with internal and external stakeholders.

 

Hiring a product manager can change your business expansion goals if you have a hire who is dedicated to their job and knows how to manage people and delegate tasks. This person, while hugely experienced and knowledgeable, should be the eyes of your product or service development. The person should be a close listener who communicates clearly and effectively. It helps if the person you hire is likeable, however, if they know the product that you want to develop in a way that others cannot grasp, this is less important.

If you are ready to take your product development from basic to advanced, but you lack the oversight from current team members to ensure that the project runs smoothly, then yes, you should consider hiring a product manager who is an expert in your field.