What Does A Product Manager Actually Do?

What does a product manager actually do? The role of “product manager” is often loosely defined and not well understood . . . but a good PM can mean the difference between a product shipping on time or not, and meeting customer needs or not.

I’ve developed this presentation to help explain the role of the product manager to new and prospective PMs as well as those who will interact with PMs. Your feedback is most welcome!

Edit: Below is the revised and expanded of the original presentation, first seen at my webinar at community.featureplan.com on Nov. 12, 2008. You can view the slides on Slideshare or download the original Powerpoint or a PDF.

Product Manager 101: What Does A Product Manager Actually Do?

Bonus Content

That’s the basic Product Manager. What does the successful PM look like? Check out the follow-up presentation “The Successful Product Manager”:

12 thoughts on “What Does A Product Manager Actually Do?

  1. Hi Chris,

    Dropped in by accident, but found your presentation on “What does a Project Manager actually do?” interstesting. Short, informative and straight forward.

    Ironically, looking at your profile I notice you are in gaming. An industy I am looking to re-enter after gaining good working with a large Japanese gaming company.

    I will be dropping by more to have a look at your site!



  2. Hi Chris. I just watched your webinar on this topic and found it to be really enlightening. I see the slideshare slideshow above but is there a way to download the actual Powerpoint presentation slides?

    Jay Solomon

  3. Hey Chris, I used to see the role of the product manager as “the glue that binds teams together” but have now come to think that description grossly understates the imporance of product management.

    While it is often not the case in organisations, product management should be driving the product and market strategies, by determining what markets to serve, what market problems to solve, and what products to sell that will support the overall business strategy.

    By referring to the role as a binding or lubricating function, we acknowledge the disfunction of other teams and accept the burden of resolving their inability to work together. If instead we lead the teams and focus their outputs then we, as the leaders for our products, can drive better outomes for the business, our customers and ourselves.

    –nick coster

  4. Thanks for the feedback, Nick. I don’t think we necessarily are disagreeing: They key part of the description isn’t just the binding/lubricating metaphor; it’s the ability to keep “the product moving in the right direction”. The right direction, to me, entails knowing the market, leading the product development, and making sure the product is meeting market demands and business goals. We should avoid doing things the Max Powers way (“the wrong way, but FASTER”).

  5. The presentation was amazing with to the point and helpful pieces of information under one roof. Brought out a clear perspective on what needs to be done, how and in what manner.

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