The role of a product manager is absolutely critical to the development of a good product. While it is essential for them to work with their team like a well-oiled machine, it is also essential that a product manager be able to strategise and plan the product itself.
A good product manager needs to have a strong understanding of the competitive landscape, through the experience of simply having coexisted in the field.
Here are my Top 7 Markers of a Good Product Manager. These 7 points can help you differentiate a good product manager from a bad one. Remember, this is one of the most crucial roles in the organisation. While a good product manager can boost your revenues through the roof; a bad product manager can easily lead to a loss of reputation, revenue, long-term goals, and much more.
Here’s how to tell the good apart from the bad, but first, here is a basic skill set check. If a PM doesn’t have these skills, don’t even bother moving on with him or her.
Basic Skill Set:
A good product manager (PM) has the following skills – Marketing and communications, great time management, and the ability to prioritise. A good PM ensures that all documents and materials say the same thing. A customer or an in-house executive shouldn’t have two different ideas about the same product. A good PM is also able to communicate effectively with each of his teams, and even the management when necessary.
A good PM has to be able to manage his time well since there’s so much that needs to be done. This goes hand-in-hand with the ability to prioritise. When working on a tight schedule, it is imperative to know what can be delegated, and what needs to be handled personally.
Needless to say, a bad PM has none of these qualities. Each team has a different end-goal in mind; the management has little knowledge about the status of the product, and each task is micro-managed at the cost of efficiency – that is a truly poor PM.
Now that you know that basic things to look for, let’s look at some more complex issues of discerning a good product manager from a bad one.
A good product manager will take ownership of the product. They have a realistic vision of the product, and they do whatever it takes to achieve it. They are respected by their entire team, and ultimately are aware of what it will take to drive the product to success.
A bad product manager not only restricts his own role but also gives excuses right from the start. Too often, bad product managers will lose themselves in a deluge of trivial tasks, and begin blaming things like low funding, incompetent team members, and so on, without keeping an eye on the overall strategy.
A good product manager takes into account multiple parameters when strategizing and building the product. These can be covered in 4 C’s. Company, Customer, Competition, and Clarity.
A good product manager will take into account the company’s goals and capabilities. This means not only aligning themselves with what the company wants, but also recognising the strengths and weaknesses of the company.
When it comes to the Customer, a good PM knows exactly what his customers want. And it needs to be better than the customers understand it themselves. A good PM will never rely just on their gut feel, but will instead back it up with numbers. Understanding the customer is the most critical step in the journey. If the product doesn’t solve a real need-gap, then it is destined to perform poorly.
For Competition, a good PM needs to know what the competitors can and cannot do. Further, they must be able to leverage what their competition can’t do, and turn it into a competitive advantage for themselves.
Clarity here means knowing why every decision during the journey was made, and having the wherewithal to re-confirm the decisions in the event of new, product-threatening information.
A bad product manager, will completely miss the bigger picture. They will fail to understand the consumer, the company, and their competition at every step.
Clarity of Thought and Communication:
A product manager needs to clearly define the product in writing to the product development team. This is a critical piece in the puzzle to understanding a good product manager from a bad one.
A good product manager will be able to define the product in specific terms that is backed by research. Further, these terms should be understood by everyone on the team.
A bad product manager is easily discernible here if everyone in the team has a different idea of what the product should be like.
Where a good product manager believes in maintaining and updating the PRD (product requirements document) on a daily/weekly basis, a bad product manager rarely updates the PRD, and even then relies on engineering to make sense of it. This disrupts channels of communication, as updates, queries, new information, and changes are never catalogued.
Distinct milestones, goals, and advantages:
A good product manager is crystal clear about the aim of the product, the problem it solves, and its competitive advantage over everybody else in the market.
A bad product manager is hesitant about their goals, and not very certain why their product isn’t another me-too in the market.
Attention to the Sales Team:
A good PM is loved by the sales team, or salesforce (SF).
Not only is a good PM able to understand that their SF lives from quarter to quarter, and target to target, but uses this in their interaction with them. A good PM removes the clutter, and tells the SF only what they need to know to do their job effectively. He puts things in terms that they will understand, and in return understands that money is a powerful motivator for them. Further, a good PM knows the realities at the ground level. They know what is practical, and can separate that from the idyllic.
A bad PM has no time for the salesforce. A bad PM neither understands their perspective, and nor do they want to.
A PM Who Is A Class Apart:
A PM who is a class apart (and is on another level) is separated from a good PM by only two factors. First, the ability to leverage the entire organisation. This means that a stellar PM has already analysed the organisation, and works with it as a whole, rather than in silos, or departments. Second, such a PM has the intensity to do whatever it takes to create a great product and overcome every hurdle.
These are what separates a good product manager from a bad product manager. I have seen a lot of products and companies fail because they couldn’t differentiate between the two. Thankfully, after years of experience, I have become adept at telling the two apart.
In case you have any trouble during your effort to pick one PM over the other, these will hold you in good stead. Rely on these 7 tips to tell who is a good PM and who is a bad one.
As always, our experience and expertise is ready to lend a hand. Contact us here and let Innovify make the job easier for you. We have strong experience in the field, and will be able to understand and deliver on your requirements quickly, and skilfully. Check out our other articles on estimating projects, hiring engineers, and much more over here.