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The Role of an IT Product Manager

07
Jun
2024
The Role of an IT Product Manager

The role of an IT Product Manager becomes increasingly important as our tech-driven world keeps evolving. These experts are at the forefront of driving innovation while ensuring businesses stay competitive, but what exactly does an IT Product Manager do? 

What is the Product Manager role?

Let’s start by discussing the role! The Product Manager description oversees the development, production, and marketing edges of different products and product lines within a company’s portfolio. Further, the IT Product Manager handles the product vision and the strategy setting while working closely with specialized, cross-functional teams.

But that’s not all! A key responsibility of an IT Product Manager is to understand both market and user needs, involving market and trend research while gathering customer feedback. All this info allows them to make strategic decisions along the Product Development process.

Why is the IT Product Manager Important?

An IT Product Manager is a crucial link between businesses and technology! Yet, their impact is not limited to overseeing Software Development procedures: they're strategic partners that contribute directly to business growth.

The Product Manager role thrives both in understanding user needs and market trends and in translating needs into actionable features. This user-centric approach helps all team members ensure products align perfectly with customer desires to fuel business growth. By analyzing competitor offerings and identifying market gaps, an IT Product Manager can focus on the cutting-edge features that help companies stay ahead of the curve. 

In this context,according to McKinsey & Company, companies excelling at customer-centricity grow up to 60% faster than competitors. Last but not least, a ProductPlan study shows that companies with higher maturity in Product Management are 60% more likely to exceed revenue targets. So, the relevance of an IT Product Manager is undeniable! 

Example of the Role of an IT Product Manager

Let’s put the role of an IT Product Manager in action! To clarify the process, we’ll use an example of the Product Manager's role in the improvement of an existing system with the goal of boosting a company’s overall Customer Experience (CX) for an imaginary company specialized in coffee roasting called Big Bean Brew (BBB). Let’s check it out!

1. Research

At this first stage,  Big Bean Brew acknowledges there is something wrong as their sales have decreased when comparing this last quarter with the same period of last year. By diving further, they discover that BBB’s website is not exactly what you'd call friendly. 

Since they’re no experts, they contact a specialized partner to get a glimpse of what may be happening. Within the partner, the IT Product Manager conducted Usability Testing on the site while interviewing new and existing customers to determine what issues they encountered. The results let the team know that users find it hard to find their desired coffee products and varieties, leading to them abandoning both carts and the site. This info allowed the team to create a prototyped User Persona for this site and the brand itself. 

2. Roadmap

By knowing the current status, the IT Product Manager can develop a user-centric roadmap to establish both goals and steps to take. Joint by Development and UX/UI Design teams, the Product Manager role will focus on hierarchizing the needs that teams must address. Based on the identified issues of user unfamiliarity and difficulty finding products, the IT Product Manager can prioritize specific features in the roadmap. 

For instance, they could first focus team efforts on improving the site’s search functionalities by implementing robust search bar features like autocomplete and relevant product suggestions. Then, the IT PM could move to enhance the site’s navigation structure, focusing on designing intuitive navigation elements like well-defined menus, categories, and breadcrumb trails for users to find what they’re looking for easily. 

Lastly, as defined by the PM, the team could move to enhancing product listings and filtering options with clear product descriptions, high-quality images, and relevant filters. These steps allow teams to tackle different elements within the overall goals for the product.

3. Prototype

After the step-by-step roadmap, the IT Product Manager organizes the procedure to put it into action. They start by outlining the site’s content structure and navigation hierarchy. Here, UI/UX Design teams work on intuitive interfaces, first in the form of low-fidelity wireframes and prototypes aligned with BBB's branding. At this stage, the Product Manager role focuses on tracking the feedback of real-life users testing usability to identify any potential issues on both functionality and friendliness. 

4. Development

Next in line, the IT Product Manager will serve as a bridge between the dev team and BBB’s stakeholders. PMs ease discussions after user feedback to ensure defined features align with both the defined roadmap and the conclusions taken from the prototyping stage. The Product Manager role manages the product backlog, defines acceptance criteria, and tracks development progress. Further, they create and maintain product documentation and collaborate with the development team to ensure everyone is aligned on goals.

5. Launch

Following the launch of BBB's new website, the IT Product Manager must track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as bounce rate, time on site, page views per session, conversion rate, average order value, and sales growth. By diligently tracking KPIs, the Product Manager role can unlock a wealth of valuable insights into how users interact with the new site. This data holds the key to identifying improvement areas and uncovering any usability issues or gaps in User Experience (UX) that require further optimization.

6. Iteration

Iterating on Big Bean Brew's new site after launch is key in addressing any shortcomings missed during the lifecycle. Let's imagine that by analyzing post-launch performance, the team found out there was still a high number of users leaving the site with full shopping carts. The Product Manager role would focus on analyzing abandonment rates, heatmaps, session recording, and user surveys. 

Following this example, the team finds out the main issue relates to payment gateways. To address this issue, the IT Product Manager led the team as they worked on integrating gateways or processors, such as Paypal, Stripe, Gpay, and Apple Pay, to guarantee as many users as possible can rely on their preferred payment method. Users can gain more flexibility while the team reduces cart abandonment due to limited methods.

By partnering with a Product Development Company, Big Bean Brew revamped its website with user-centric functionalities and seamless payment options. As a result, the company saw a significant increase in sales and improved Customer Satisfaction. In this context, the IT Product Manager's data-driven approach ensured the project's success and secured Big Bean Brew's future in the coffee market.

The Future for IT Product Managers

As technology and business change, the Product Manager role constantly evolves, so it’s key to stay up-to-date with trends and breakthroughs. Of course, a big trend impacting every IT Product Manager is the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). We can see it used today to automate areas like feature prioritization and feedback analysis, leading to more opportunities to drive innovation and efficiency. Alongside, we’ve seen the results of the increasing importance of data, with PMs harnessing data to not only back up their decision-making but also to measure the outcomes.

Conclusion

The Product Manager role requires a unique blend of technical and business skills. As the business scene keeps evolving, PMs will keep playing a centerpiece role in driving innovation and ensuring that businesses stay competitive. We hope this article has provided you with a deeper understanding of the role of an IT Product Manager!