How to Be an Excellent Product Manager: A Beginner’s Guide | by Ashutosh Singh | Jun, 2024

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Ever wondered why some products become household names while others fade into obscurity? The secret often lies in the hands of an excellent product manager.

In this article, I’ll share my experiences and insights to help guide you on the path to success in your product management journey.

Understanding the Role

Being a product manager is akin to being the CEO of your product. You oversee the product’s life cycle, from conception to launch and beyond.

Here are some key areas to focus on:

1. Customer Understanding

To build a great product, you need to understand what your customers need even before they do.” — Steve Jobs

Understanding your customers is paramount. Develop empathy by engaging with them, conducting surveys, and analyzing feedback. Knowing their pain points and desires allows you to create products that truly meet their needs.

2. Vision and Strategy

A great product manager has a clear vision and a well-defined strategy. This involves setting long-term goals, understanding market trends, and aligning the product’s direction with the company’s overall objectives.

Product management is about thinking big, thinking strategically, and thinking about the future.” — Ben Horowitz

3. Collaboration

Product managers work with diverse teams, from engineering to marketing. Effective communication and collaboration are essential. Build strong relationships and ensure everyone is aligned with the product’s goals.

I remember the first time in 2015, when I led a cross-functional team working to develop a mobile wallet. The initial meetings were chaotic, with everyone having different priorities. I quickly realized the importance of clear communication and alignment. By setting up regular check-ins and ensuring everyone understood the product vision, we were able to streamline our efforts and successfully launch on time.

4. Prioritization

With numerous tasks and limited resources, prioritization is crucial. Learn to distinguish between urgent and important tasks and make decisions that align with your product’s vision and strategy.

The art of good product management is saying no to a thousand things to say yes to one great idea.” — Marty Cagan

5. Data-Driven Decision Making

Utilize data to inform your decisions. Whether it’s user analytics, market research, or A/B testing results, data helps you make informed choices that can lead to better product outcomes.

During one of our product iterations when I was working on a Digital onboarding product, we faced a critical decision point. Our initial assumptions were challenged by user data showing a completely different usage pattern. By relying on this data, we pivoted our feature set, which ultimately led to a 40% increase in user engagement.

6. Continuous Improvement

The product landscape is always evolving. Be prepared to iterate on your product based on user feedback and market changes. Continuous improvement ensures that your product remains relevant and valuable.

In product management, iteration is the key to innovation. Keep improving, keep testing, and keep evolving.” — Sheryl Sandberg

Early in my career, I was working on a “Line of Credit” feature that we were all excited about. Halfway through the development, a major competitor released a similar feature. Our initial reaction was panic, but it forced us to re-evaluate our unique value proposition and innovate further. This pivot not only saved our efforts but made it stand out in a crowded market.

Final Thoughts

Becoming an excellent product manager is a journey of constant learning and adaptation. By focusing on storytelling, understanding your role, market, customer needs and continually improving your skills, you can guide your products to success and make a significant impact in your field.

Happy managing!

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