We often get asked what exactly a Product Manager is? What do they do? Where do they sit within a PropTech? What are their key responsibilities?
Within this series we plan to uncover a number of the most popular roles LMRE recruit for within the PropTech market. Let’s take a look at the role of the Product Manager with Alison Hickson.
One of the best definitions of a Product Manager (PM) I have come across is ‘the intersection between Technology, Business and the User’. In short it is not necessarily for a Product Manager to be an expert in all three, however these core principles will be tested along the way so a strong understanding (and a passion to learn) is at the heart of the role. We posed this question to Alison and I loved the response: ‘There are about 10 skills a product manager needs to be successful in their role…a good Product manager will have mastered 5, a great PM will have mastered 8 and will be constantly learning and evolving to get better”.
So what do they do?
Product Managers are required to manage a technical product from conception to completion (this could be for the customer or the internal workforce). Let’s say the CEO has an idea to develop an app that will increase efficiency in the operational business by 20% by allowing communication to happen more smoothly, a Product Manager will be questioning the idea at first: ‘Is this app necessary?What else is on the market? before moving on to the next questions of: Who will this affect? Is this the best use of our time and money at this stage for the business?…If the answers to all of these are yes, it’s time to get to work.
The Product Manager will be involved in every aspect of the product development lifecycle, from formulating the next innovative idea to working directly with end users, designers, engineers and stakeholders to implement key feature enhancements.
Are you organised?
Speak to any Product Manager and they will admit they love a trello board, a flowchart and a roadmap. It is important for a Product Manager to perform a huge variety of market research from customers, users, staff and developers. They must constantly monitor product market fit and the competitor landscape across all product lines and geographies. The truth is, the Product Manager becomes a CEO of the project in hand, leaning on stakeholders and managing the expectations of their customers (the business) along the way. If you are a person who likes taking an idea and following through to the end goal, you will fit right in.
Can you communicate expectations clearly?
It’s hugely important in a tech environment to communicate with the engineers on timelines. Is it possible to share the load or reduce the function of the necessary product? There is constant optimising and managing of expectations. Chatting with Alison, she explained that managing the stakeholders input and always being transparent is key to the process. Developers may have their own ideas for what the final product may look like, Sales Managers may have a vision that is completely impossible to create within the given time frame, therefore transparency is key.
Sales tend to over promise, developers can get carried away and the Product Manager needs to step in to create realistic timings and OKRs and KPIs to hit. The Product Manager helps the business to keep its focus on main priorities, strategic milestones and high growth by fostering a pragmatic mindset. They are constantly adapting and optimising the strategy that doesn’t only develop new ideas and processes but executes them as well.
Are you agile?
The Product Manager’s role is changing on a monthly or even weekly basis. Alison mentions that the role pretty much didn’t exist 10-15 years ago. With the rise of applications, PropTech start-ups are constantly trying to disrupt the Real Estate industry and companies need to stay one step ahead of their rivals in efficiency and customer service, the goalposts are forever on the move. Because of this, learning on the job is one of the most important skills you can master, being agile is key and also having an understanding of all points of the project so you can draw up reliable timelines for all.
The ability to jump from a vision to the final product with countless amends in between is key. If you have managed to achieve all of this, working long hours and solving countless problems, the vision that was initially set out, apply now!
As a finishing thought, Alison help’s me summarise the best and most challenging aspects of the role. Accountability is a word thrown around a lot in the tech space but that is one thing you certainly have as a Product Manager. Managing stakeholders, reviewing different areas of the business, communicating with employees that do not directly report to you and may not feel their input is relevant, budgets, any number of problems from data regulations to staff shortages and time frames…The accountability comes down to the Product Manager.
Looking to learn more?
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a Product Manager, Alison says that she learnt a huge amount in the space fromJeff Patton’s Passionate Product Owner. There are lots of works exploring the agile principles and short courses to immerse yourself in Tech so you know yourPython from yourNode.js.
Ready for your next PropTech role?
Are you interested in a career as a PropTech Product Manager? LMRE have a number of open roles so please get in touch. Upload your CV here and detail the role you are interested in. A consultant will be in touch.
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