Today, Product Managers are managing more than products. Product Managers are responsible for listening to their customers, paying attending to trends and developing products to meet their target audience’s evolving needs. With the introduction of new management tools and methods, Product Managers are challenged to prioritize and balance their time appropriately.
Increased Social Presence
With continued importance around digital branding, Product Managers reap the benefits of representing and promoting their product in a positive light online. They are responding to product issues and questions and sharing relevant content about their company and product on social networks.
A social media presence is mutually beneficial; Product Managers can more deeply understand the end user’s needs, while customers can openly express their product questions and concerns, thus increasing product loyalty and awareness among end-users. An open and engaging presence is a win-win for everyone.
Increased User Education and Engagement Demands
Gone are the days of simple customer support. With constant (almost bi-weekly) changes to software, companies are partnering with popular third-party apps Intercom, Pendo and Inline Manual to achieve product and company relevant goals (e.g. increase product engagement or increase client retention, post onboarding).
“Intercom allows us to ‘scale authenticity’ and foster a passionate community of users. By A/B testing message format and content, we see open rates above 75% for all of our onboarding emails,” Ben Jordan, VP of Customer Experience, Invision.
Of course, with this demand comes the question of resource management and how to properly balance product and business goals.
New Internal Communication and Management Tools
Real-time responsiveness is key, and with new tools such as AHA! and Slack, Product Managers can quickly and easily communicate with their stakeholders.
While Jira used to act as the primary platform for adding, editing and prioritizing new features and bugs, the introduction of AHA! provides separate management and communication methods specific to a subset of end-users.
AHA! is great for requirements gathering, prioritizing and roadmap planning, approval and sharing. The visual heavy aspects are immensely helpful for teams that may not connect with the PM org on a daily basis, such as the sales, marketing, and account management teams; instead of constantly answering one-off questions around what’s on the roadmap and when will it be released, Product Manager’s can easily share a link to the most updated roadmap.
While the combination of AHA! and Jira are useful for roadmap communication, Slack combines the most necessary daily communication functionalities into one platform. Product Managers can create project or team based Channels specific to whom they wish to communicate with (e.g. Engineering, Marketing, Sales, Scrum Team, etc.). Slack’s integration with Jira is especially beneficial; PM’s can receive ticket updates from Jira simultaneously in a Slack Channel.
Whether it’s through Jira, AHA! or Slack, Product Managers are expected to readily answer product related questions at the drop of a hat. Dependent on the end-users and the size of the company, multiple communication and management platforms may be the best way to answer those questions in a scalable manner.
Product Managers are specializing in multi-disciplinary educations (e.g. technical PM or design-savvy PM) to align with new HR requirements. This was pulled from a recent Google Product Management job description,
“Minimum Qualifications: BA/BS in Computer Science or related technical field… Preferred Qualifications: Product management or design experience with a focus on software products and technologies.”
Since Product Managers work with the design and engineering teams on a daily basis, it’s helpful to understand how each team functions. From a startup perspective, Product Managers can more easily market themselves as a technical or design focused Product Manager — the knowledge they have can eliminate previously required resources.
At the end of the day, Product Manager’s roles, much like products, are constantly changing. With continued learning and application of design, engineering and communication trends, Product Managers can get ahead of the game and set themselves, their business and their product apart from the crowd. The question remains that remains is how to properly balance time executing tasks versus learning new management tools and methods.