Every Successful Project Needs a Spirit Guide, Introducing the Product Manager

The world of tech is filled with groundbreaking products that inspire us with their ingenuity, elegance and utility. These products are created by diverse teams collaborating on a shared vision. From engineers and designers to business development and marketing gurus, these teams of talented individuals would be lost without the invaluable Sherpa also known as the Product Manager. The Product Manager takes the CEO’s idea, communicates it to the team and helms the ship that will journey through the creative storm of product development. During their journey, the design team will encounter shifting icebergs and treacherous sea monsters. The PM will keep the project on course in the face of these obstacles, ultimately ensuring that at their final destination, the team has executed the company’s vision. The PM knows that achieving this goal is paramount because the vision represents the objectives of the CEO and founders, and most important, serves the company’s users.


Product Managers are such important members of the team, you’ll want to make sure yours are great. Here are some of the hallmarks of an outstanding PM:


Good PMs have incredible interpersonal and communication skills. They speak engineering just as well as they speak design, marketing or business development, and they can translate confidently between these languages to their team members, representing each one’s distinct point of view.


A good PM is trusted. The team intuitively feels that when the PM speaks, she knows what she’s talking about because she has a robust intuition for what the CEO wants, an intimate understanding of what her engineers can deliver, and a deep understanding of what customers need.


PMs are agile and nimble. They possess a high level of intellectual and social coordination, in that they can herd the many cats on their team through the labyrinth of moving targets typically encountered when creating a new product, and keep everyone motivated and enthusiastic as the creative process unfurls.


They don’t squeeze too hard. One sign of a weak PM is a controlling management style. The ideal PM doesn’t exert too much force over the people he’s managing, and realizes that the best leaders get results via their ability to inspire. Think Obi-Wan or Indiana Jones. He recognizes that great products are created by teams, and as such, he engenders and protects an environment of collaboration throughout the development process.


Great PMshave uncanny instincts for the products they manage, as well as their users. Their teams trust that they’ll steer them toward success, and look to the PM to manage team disputes, encourage consensus and generally facilitate progress as the ‘voice of reason’. Their good instincts come from having a firm grasp on the market and what users want. They also understand the competition and can work with the marketing team to beat them.


A talented PM’s mantra is the word “user”. They hold the CEO’s vision in mind, while always keeping design conversations focused on end users, so that the team remembers that ultimately, the customer is their top priority. PMs should have a talent for understanding and implementing user testing and adjusting as new testing data comes into play.


PMs are the guardians of the bottom line. They’re realistic about what’s possible and they keep production moving, guiding their design team so that products are delivered on time and on budget. No design team ever feels finished. Left to their own devices, designers will iterate on a project until it is pried from their cold, dead hands. A good PM recognizes that while this is the nature of the beast, there comes a time when a product needs to be declared done.


Finally, a good PM follows through. Once a product has shipped, the PM scours reviews and gathers feedback to make sure the users are satisfied and the project hit its targeted goal. Then, the PM creates and implements an improvement plan, which gets presented to the team so that the next product version can be even better.


A good Product Manager is essential to the success of any project. If you’d like to chat with us more about how to ensure that your project succeeds, contact us.