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Product managers do not fit into a single box. Usually, they are classified based on their skills or specializations, and from this, it is possible to draw out several types of Product Managers. Let’s look at some of them.
Did it just occur to you that there are different types of Product Managers? Welcome. Many people often think that a Product Manager is a Product Manager and that all Product Managers have the same exact duties within a company. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. True, there are base-level duties which an individual carries out that make it obvious that such a person is a Product Manager but depending on the specific company or the product and generally the role available for the Product Manager within the company, Product Managers are doing all kinds of work.
Sometimes, the duties are on such different ends of the spectrum that you could begin to wonder if you and another Product Manager are in the same role. There are almost as many types of Product Managers as companies are doing different things. Here are some of the different types of Product Managers:
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This is a common one. Technical Product Managers are usually people with a strong technical background, such as Engineering. As a result of their background, they can lend a more expert voice to areas of the team with which they have experience.
They understand and discuss the little details of production – why the product was chosen, why they went with one material over another, the reasons for following a specific process etc. Technical Product Managers usually spend more time with teams like development, engineering and operations and less with others such as sales and marketing.
The assignment for this Product Manager is to figure out how to strike a balance when carrying out their role so that other parts of the company don’t suffer because they’ve spent excess time on one thing.
If the Technical Product Manager is able to spend their time focusing on technical stuff, it’s because there’s a Design Product Manager to handle the other areas that might have been pushed to the back burner such as UX/UI, user journeys adn other customer-facing areas.
The Design Product Manager converts the product from a simple vision to a practical user experience. They are in control of the production process of a new product and spearheading the upgrade of existing product design.
This is the kind of Product Manager that addresses growth issues within a company. Companies go through all kinds of growth issues, like generating demand for their products or issues meeting supply, and it is the responsibility of a Growth Product Manager to deal with these issues using precise data-driven decisions.
This role is filled with high expectations as companies usually expect to see material developments when a Growth Product Manager works. They have clear KPIs that let employers know fairly quickly whether or not they’ve been successful.
A characteristic sought after among Growth Product Managers is a strong business acumen that allows them to know what tasks and features to prioritize and how to make tangible changes.
A Product Manager in a startup definitely deserves its own category. Can I hear you say ‘Jack of all trades?’ because that’s what the Product Manager at a startup is. As startups are only just getting on their feet and less able to afford to hire multiple people to fill roles, the Product Manager will perform virtually all Product Manager responsibilities and then some.
The Startup Product Manager has to collaborate with the founders of the company to develop, own, and implement a product strategy and a roadmap for it.they assume a generalist role, establishing the foundation of the Product Management team, implementing and managing at the same time.
The best thing about this category of Product Managers is that being in charge of so much at once is an excellent learning opportunity. You’re privy to things that might take you a little longer to get to if you worked at a bigger company. Soft skills such as communication skills and leadership skills come in handy in this category of Product Management.
This person is the consumer-whisperer. They understand users, and they understand marketing and use their knowledge of these to make product that people want and to market it in a way that it appeals to those in the target market.
This Product Manager has knowledge of determining factors such as what the end users want, their preferences, and their purchasing power whcih allows them make valuable contributions as to the pricing and positioning of a product within the market.
Product Marketing Managers are very related to the marketing of the product and work closely with
the branches of market e.g. social media marketing teams to ensure that the product is successful.
The Data Product Manager works closely with the data and analytics team identifying and bridging gaps in the users data experience. These Product Managers are most useful to companies looking to launch new products.
When companies have a lot of data flowing through their systems, they need someone to answer questions about the data and analyse it so that everyone can understand it and have access and that’s where the data Product Manager comes in.
A data product manager works to empower engineers, business stakeholders, and executive leadership by discovering, “what is the best outcome for this data and how do we get there?”
The Software Product Manager oversees software product development right from conception until the end of its life. They figure out client needs, work with the design team to cater to those needs, stay up to date as to relevant features and phase out those that are no longer relevant.
This Product Manager is invested in the interests of the Software development team and presents these interests to the stakeholders and customers on their behalf.
The Hardware Product Manager is responsible for bringing hardware products into the market. Their job is to gather insights, define the proper specifications and make the right tradeoffs to ensure that the company delivers the best possible experience to customers.
These categories are not to be mistaken for the levels of seniority among Product Managers. This is where you’d find job titles such as Junior Product Manager, Senior Product Manager, Product Lead, Group Product Manager and VP Product. Again, based on your experience and the expected duties, you will be placed in the rightful position.
Keep in mind that these ‘different’ Product Managers are not mutually exclusive. Depending on your strengths and your training, a single person could fall into more than one category. Yet, it is very ambitious to assume we can list out all the types of Product managers; however, the above list is comprehensive and gives an idea as to the types of Product Managers there are so aspiring Product Managers know their options and be confident that there’s room for them and their exact skillset in the field of Product Management.