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Product Job Descriptions

Common job titles and responsibilities for successful product management and marketing teams


Titles are a mess! The "product manager" title simply means too many different things to too many different departments. What one company calls a product manager, another company calls a product marketing manager. No one seems sure what a product owner does—is it a product role or a development role? And please don't confuse proDUCT management with proJECT management. Product management decides what problems to solve and in which order, and a project manager creates a plan to make it happen and oversees the execution of this plan.


The most successful teams comprise three roles: a strategic product manager, one or more technical product managers, and a market-facing product marketing manager.


This organizational approach has the added benefit of expanding quickly. That is, the three roles product management team include the expertise to handle a few products (or a single portfolio) without relying on other teams to fill a skills void. As the company expands, you can add similar teams to meet the expanded requirements of additional products.


When organizing product management, look for ways to ensure shared goals. Typically, the strategic product manager is focused on the business, while the technical product manager is focused on technology. Success is unlikely when the three product management roles are in different departments with different departmental goals.


Here are some draft job descriptions for each of the key roles.

  • Product Strategy Manager

  • Product Planning Manager

  • Product Growth Manager

Each requires some modification to fit the needs of your organization.

 

PRODUCT STRATEGY MANAGER

PRODUCT STRATEGY MANAGERS are first and foremost business leaders. They propose new products based on a deep understanding of the market, research and analyze the business and competitive aspects of new offerings, and empower other teams to build a suite of products and services that solve real customer problems.


Description

As a PRODUCT STRATEGY MANAGER, you will lead a team that is charged with a product contribution to a line of business. You will guide products from the idea stage to full production, and help to develop new ideas based on your industry experience and your contact with customers. Your primary focus will be delivering products that are valued by our customers.


You must have expertise in business with a big-picture vision and the drive to make that vision a reality. You must enjoy spending time with customers to understand their problems and enjoy working with technical teams to develop innovative solutions. You’ll need to be able to speak truth to power, supporting your decisions with data.


Responsibilities

  • Develop a backlog of new product ideas and new market initiatives

  • Develop and maintain a product roadmap of releases, initiatives, and epics

  • Work with leadership to align product plans with portfolio vision

  • Work with branding and marketing teams to guide their understanding of key personas and product capabilities

  • Work with stakeholders and line-of-business leaders to validate concepts, themes, vision, and prototypes

  • Determine requirements for current and future products supported by market research and ongoing interaction with both customers and non-customers

  • Balance priorities between maintenance requirements, architecture, and new features

  • Develop and maintain program objectives and success measurements (KPIs) such as new customer acquisition and retention

  • Define the planned date and content for a product release to customers

  • Participate in release and product retrospectives with system teams

  • Focus on product deliverables for the next 6 to 18 months

Requirements

  • 4+ years of software product management experience

  • Strong analytical mindset

  • Knowledgeable in technology

  • Experience with [domain] a strong plus

  • MBA desired

  • Available to travel to customer sites (30%)

 

PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER

Sometimes called Product Owners, PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGERS develop a deep understanding of the product and its technical capabilities; they achieve this by working with the product, discussing it with customers and colleagues, and keeping current on the industry.


Description

As PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER, you will be dedicated to a product team, serving as the market and business representative in all team meetings. Your primary focus will be delivering releases that are feature-complete and timely.


The PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER is the member of the team responsible for both defining and prioritizing the release backlog. You will work closely with the team to define architecture, user experience, and product capabilities. The PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER has final authority representing the customer’s interest in backlog prioritization and requirements questions.


The PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER must be available to the team, particularly during planning and review meetings. In addition, the PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER has a significant role in ensuring quality and is the only team member empowered to accept new stories into the release backlog.


The PRODUCT PLANNING MANAGER reports to a PRODUCT STRATEGY MANAGER and will take direction from the product roadmap to guide the product releases and iterations.


Responsibilities

  • Serve as the customer representative in all team meetings

  • Responsible for maximizing the value of the release

  • Participate in product planning and forecasts with the product management team

  • Work closely with release management and system teams to define architecture, user experience, and innovative product capabilities

  • Contribute to the product backlog and roadmap

  • Maintain and prioritize the release backlog

  • Create and maintain business and user persona definitions

  • Define user stories and acceptance criteria for product capabilities

  • Develop and maintain technical success measurements (KPIs) such as reduced defects and reduced customer complaints.

  • Accept stories into the release backlog and accept the completion of each iteration

  • Maintain and report product release status to stakeholders

  • Participate in periodic product and process retrospectives

  • Focus on release deliverables for the next 3 to 6 months

Requirements

  • 2+ years of technical product management or business analyst experience.

  • Knowledgeable in technology

  • Experience with our domain is a strong plus

  • Computer Science or Engineering degree or work experience a plus

  • Available for travel to customer sites (20%)

 

PRODUCT GROWTH MANAGER

PRODUCT GROWTH MANAGERS, often called Product Marketing Managers, are focused on markets, either vertical or geographic. They use their market expertise to empower product management, marketing, and sales with the requirements and language of their market, and they serve as the chief liaison from the market to the company. The PRODUCT GROWTH MANAGER focuses on sales enablement and go-to-market planning so that when the product is delivered, there are people who want to buy it.


Description

As a PRODUCT GROWTH MANAGER, you will be the internal advocate for the needs of your market and the external evangelist of products to the market. You’ll research your market, forecast its size and expected growth, document its requirements, and champion the market in all go-to-market decisions. As a PRODUCT GROWTH MANAGER, you’ll work with marketing teams to deliver tools that empower sales teams and customers.


You must have market expertise and the passion to bring your products to your market. You will spend time with customers to understand their evolving needs. You must enjoy working with marketing and sales teams to deliver the tools necessary for market success.


Responsibilities

  • Evangelize products to your market and your sales teams

  • Research market requirements and forecasts for new portfolio opportunities

  • Maintain product success metrics for your market

  • Document and maintain key competitor profiles

  • Recommend market-specific enhancements for all portfolio products

  • Define and socialize target market segments and personas

  • Research and document the buyer’s journey

  • Analyze sales win and loss data to refine your sales playbook

  • Develop market-specific launch criteria for new product introduction

  • Work with branding and marketing teams to help them understand the key market personas and product capabilities

  • Work with product management and technical teams to help them understand the critical product stories for your market

  • Work with sales and marketing teams to document the buying process and identify key sales enablement tools

  • Provide product and domain content focused on the market

Requirements

  • 3+ years of experience in product management or marketing

  • Proven ability to communicate with customers, salespeople, and executives

  • Strong analytical mindset

  • Knowledgeable in technology

  • Experience with our domain is a strong plus

  • MBA desired

  • Available to travel to customer sites (30%)


 

Assess and Optimize your product team

Steve Johnson, co-founder of Product Growth Leaders, explains the steps to assess and optimize your product team.

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