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A product manager has two main responsibilities: evaluating product opportunities and defining the products to be built to address those opportunities. To allow her to focus on these tasks, the product manager needs a product team around her, much like a CEO needs a management team to run a company.
This team comprises several well-defined roles:
User experience designers create the product’s interface toward the customer. This crucial role means they must work closely with the product manager.
Engineers, also a vital component of the team, build the product that the product manager has defined. This makes them the product manager’s peers, not subordinates. To help engineers understand what the product needs to do, the product manager must involve them early in the process and have them actually meet and observe real customers.
A dedicated project manager is also recommended to oversee the work of engineers in the execution phase. This allows the product manager to focus on discovering and defining new products while the project manager schedules and tracks the projects required to build and launch them.
A separate product marketing person is needed to tell the world about the product. Naturally, both she and the product manager should give each other input to help formulate marketing messages and product requirements respectively.
Finally, every product team can benefit from seeking out the smartest people in the company, regardless of function or position, and making them unofficial “deputy product managers.” If asked for ideas and feedback, they can deliver a surprising amount of value just based on their smarts.
Product managers need product teams around them with clearly defined roles.