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Who Is a Product Manager?

Posted by ClickHelp TeamClickHelp Teamin TechComm Career Path on 2/22/2023 — 5 minute read

colleagues discussing product

Building software can be regarded as a cooperation process involving many stakeholders inside and outside the company. The cooperation can be either a success or failure depending on how people define and share the responsibilities. The old-fashioned way of work is when the team is split into two opposite ‘forces’, one issuing requirements and the other trying to implement them.

Some time ago, this ‘authoritative’ type of management used to be a common thing. However, it had many drawbacks, like false goal setting, wasted time, inefficient operation, and dissatisfied customers.

Since then, there has emerged a new approach in the industry. It implies a need for a universal mediator (product manager) position to align the needs of developers, users, and company management.

Who Is a Product Manager?

Today, the job of a product manager is one of the highest-paid professions in the world. According to, the average (median) product manager salary in the United States is $75,906 as of January 26, 2023. Just to compare, the average public school teacher’s salary in the United States is $56,026, while the average policeman’s salary is $61,790.

To pin the product manager on the salary map of the US, it will be useful to know that the median annual wage across all occupations is defined as $58,260 (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data valid for 2021). Thus, a product manager with a $75,906 median wage earns about $18,000 above the national average, which is considered to be very good for all states.

Another factor that indicates the demand for this job is that the profession is in the focus of educational institutions. Colleges have lately started to create new majors concerning product management. Numerous online educational resources offer to enhance your skills by enrolling in online courses, like Digital Project Manager, SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) Certification Training, etc.

It should also be said that the position of a project manager does not refer solely to the field of digital products development. Any company whose business processes depend on separate (often very different) projects usually assigns a project manager for every large contract. This person is in charge of strategic planning and has to oversee all the activities related to the contract signed with a customer. A project manager’s work is of guiding-and-supervision nature. It is not simply a mediator (though this skill is also important) but a person with one’s own vision of the product.

So, both in the case of physical and digital products, the manager should control all the stages of the product’s life cycle coordinating such aspects as the pre-planning activities, promotion, product research, market analysis, development, and even the financial aspects, such as cost estimation.

The post-production stage is also important. Product managers have to analyze customer reactions to the launched products. These can be reactions to packaging, marketing, or certain features. The responsibility of the manager is to ‘gauge’ these reactions (which can be both positive and negative) and take action. Action means introducing changes if the responses are negative or enhancing the product features that induce positive reactions.

On the whole, product managers are those who ‘author’ the concept or the idea of the product and are responsible for its implementation on all stages, from development to release, as well as the post-production stage (the stage of user response).

men discussing work on laptop

Product Manager Skills and Responsibilities

As said above, product managers are responsible for ideating a product and getting this idea across to everyone in the company. The formula of a project manager’s work is ‘turning product vision into reality.’

On a daily basis, this means brainstorming sessions for different product features so that they are in line with the customer’s demands. The next thing is getting engineers to grasp and implement these ideas within the project.

Both these activities (brainstorming and implementing ideas) imply clear goal setting. To describe a goal, the manager should also describe what success and failure mean as applied to this specific goal. Otherwise, the team will never know whether they have reached the goal. This also implies assessment methods and parameters within the manager’s scope of responsibility.

The everyday activities of a product manager can be represented as cooperation with three parties: the product owner (aligning the product with the overall business strategy, optimizing the cost and revenues ratio), the developers (engineers and designers who put ideas into reality), and the customers (making the product relevant and valuable for them).

In information technology, customers can be engineers, too, as when the product is an API. So, the triangle above will be a bit modified: product owner – engineers (developers) – engineers (customers). In this case, the PM has to possess a much higher expertise than the other parties.

Customer reception is another aspect the PM should be concerned with. This work can include:

  • Pre-planning activities, such as market research, to identify the potential response of the users to product releases and, consequently, the potential product sales.
  • Optimization of the product features on the basis of the customers’ reaction.
  • Issuing recommendations for changes and adjustments of the project based on customer reception.
  • Overseeing the field of technical writing.

We should bear in mind that customer response to the product depends largely on user experience (UX). This can be defined as a complex of impressions customers get while using the application (or any other software product).

These impressions are closely related to such parameters as usability, navigability, customer help, the availability of supporting documentation, etc. This means that the PM has to oversee one more sector of the project, the one related to technical writing, as the quality of tech writing improves the UX and the overall customer response to the product.

Product Manager Job Description

On a practical level, the job of a PM can look the following way. The working day might start by asking questions. It may be talking to customers or different teams involved in the project. Some talks can last several minutes, while others (especially those with the customers) last several months.

Anyway, the PM should talk both to internal and outside stakeholders. This is important for understanding the history of the project and its place in the overall business model of the company.

Another thing is understanding how people perceive the product, its idea, and its implementation. The job of the PM is to align the different views on the product. A PM can only pass over to the next stage after this knowledge is collected.

Every step of a PM is related to decision-making. Here, the trick of the trade is not to get lost in a myriad of small decisions but to stay on the level of strategic solutions. In this context, delegating responsibilities is key to effective product management. This does not mean neglecting duties or overlooking some aspects, but making all team members participate in the everyday work.

The everyday tasks of a product manager usually include:

  • Understanding the needs of the customers and product owners.
  • Monitoring the market (analyzing data from metrics and customer feedback).
  • Developing a vision of a product and getting the message across to the team members.
  • Prioritizing product features for the team to focus on.
  • Giving assignments to the team members concerning each aspect of the product.

However, even when the product is released, the work of the PM does not stop here. A PM has to determine whether the product is a success or a failure. For this, more input has to be collected. Based on this feedback, the PM will decide what adjustments should be introduced to make the product more effective.

hands crossed on laptop layout


The responsibilities of a project manager lie within the fields of strategic planning, development, distribution, and customer reception of a product. These fields define the everyday activities typical for this job.

No matter what the activities are (data collection, analysis, planning, brainstorming, etc.), all are related to decision-making. A good PM always acts as both part of the team and its leader, trying to influence people rather than being authoritative. This is probably the key to efficient leadership, a quality every PM should possess.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
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