Product management is a diverse and dynamic profession. The work done by product managers varies based on the company they work at, its size, industry, culture, and stage of growth. Here are the common roles that product managers play in organizations that create software products. Unfortunately there isn’t one definition for what PMs do because everyone does it differently. This article provides an overview; the rest of this series explores these topics further with some real-world examples from my experience of working as a product manager (PM) at Microsoft .
The following list points out some of the most important aspects of our job as PMs. Keep in mind that all successful companies have one thing in common: They create software products that people love to use. So, PMs spend most of their time thinking about how to make great software. PMs are intersecting roles because there isn’t one way to do it right.
Here are the core responsibilities you can expect as a product manager:
You’ll notice the word “people” is scattered throughout this list of responsibilities. That’s not an accident because whenever we’re talking about creating something new, it often gets reduced down to some pretty simple math: Good Product Managers know that real innovation comes from understanding what motivates people and then making sure that everything they do helps drive them toward their goal.
When I think back on my early days in product management and how I relished the chance to learn about an industry and then create something entirely new, it’s clear that for me, the best job in the world has to be Product Manager. While we all have our own opinions of what makes a great product manager and how we might go about fulfilling those responsibilities, there is one thing we should agree upon:
There isn’t just one way to do it right. Here are some common Product Management roles you may find yourself playing during your career:
The end goal is always the same but figuring out how to get there can vary widely depending on your team’s size and resources. Each role will require you to think differently about how you focus your attention on making sure everyone is working toward achieving product-market fit through continuous product improvement.
1. Super User
You’re the “voice of the customer” and keeping your finger on the pulse of what customers need currently and into the future. You own the voice of the customer within and across all teams and help drive new tools, processes, and products to ensure you are continually meeting their needs. This role is about deep partner collaboration with Sales, Consulting Services, Marketing, Customer Success & Support to name a few.
2. Product Visionary
As a visionary you focus on understanding where your market is headed so you can anticipate changes in technology that may impact your products — while also looking for potential opportunities for innovation.
3. Self-Starter / Execution Manager
This role requires taking ownership of specific ongoing initiatives to push them through the development process from start to finish. This includes working cross-functionally with stakeholders, prioritizing initiatives and communicating progress.
4. Program Manager
The Program Management function is a mix of three distinct disciplines: Product Management, Project Management and Strategy Consulting. In this role you’ll work mainly on ongoing engagements with customers implementing our products, ensuring that their needs are met from initial sales through ongoing support after implementation.
5. Sales Engineer / Technical/ Pre-Sales Consultant
This role will be focused on helping prospects understand the value of Veeva’s offerings and successfully navigate their purchase decision – whether as a direct replacement or upgrade to an existing solution – across all stages of the sales cycle . A customer success mindset is crucial for this role.
6. Director of Consulting Services
Our consulting services group helps customers plan, build and optimize their Veeva deployments with best practices that are proven out at our customer sites. We use data-driven insights to help our teams understand how to best market, sell and implement the Veeva platform across different customer scenarios/use cases. This person will be responsible for planning, building and leading a team of consultants who own go-to-market strategies for delivering high impact engagement plans with enterprise customers around the world .
7. Systems Engineer / Pre-sales Consultant
This role will be focused on helping prospects understand the value of Veeva’s services offerings – including PaaS, IaaS, SaaS and advisory services (including Life Sciences Cloud Reference Architect ) – and articulate this value to stakeholders. This position will also be responsible for helping deliver Veeva’s pre-sales engagements in support of customers throughout the sales cycle.
8. Pre-Sales Implementation Consultant
This individual will be responsible for leading technical Innovation initiatives with prospects to define cloud strategies that align with customer goals . The role requires working closely with product management , engineering, partner teams, customer success managers and external clients/partners . It is essential that this candidate has strong relationship building skills.