Day in the Life of a Product Manager

Day in the Life of a Product Manager: Role, Responsibilities, and Tools

On average, a product manager earns $156,524 per year. This figure may vary depending on the industry, product, geographic location, experience, certifications, and other parameters.

Such attractive pay leaves everyone eyeing the coveted role of a product manager. Yet, very few are aware of the roles and responsibilities of the position.

After all, the title ‘Product Manager’ sheds little to no light on what one could do —except manage a product. The idea of what constitutes a ‘product’ is ever-evolving, with digital and software-based products expanding the definition of what was once traditionally held as tangible goods.

Read on if you’re curious to learn about the profile of a product manager in-depth.

What is a Product Manager? 

Depending on who you ask, you will get different responses to the question, “Who is a product manager?”

According to some, product managers research, identify, and conceptualize products worth building. Others believe that they orchestrate the product development cycle. Some limit their role to feature development or product analytics.

None of them would be wrong in their definition of who a product manager is. After all, product managers do all that directly or indirectly —and then some. 

However, we’re here to lend more structure and comprehension to your understanding of a product manager.

So, it all boils down to this: A product manager is a professional responsible for a product. Entrepreneurs like Ben Horowitz want you to think of them as the CEO of the product.

They feature throughout the development cycle, from planning and strategizing to launch and improvement. This involves task management, relationship building, coordination, firefighting, and more. 

While handling such activities across cross-functional teams, product managers are a mission-critical link between stakeholders, developers, design, sales and marketing, and customer support teams. 

Experts like Martin Eriksson call product managers an intersection of User Experience (UX), Business, and Technology.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Product Manager

Product managers’ roles and responsibilities are equally nuanced since they wear multiple hats. While there could be industry-specific variations, a product manager is typically involved in the following:

  • Product ideation: Conducting market research to identify trends, opportunities, and customer demands for a new product or feature. Drafting a product vision document and communicating it to all stakeholders concerned
  • Planning and road mapping: Preparing a product roadmap that outlines the timeline until the product release and the milestones along the way. Identifying product features and functionalities and prioritizing the ones crucial for the product’s success 
  • Product development: Putting together a product team comprising experts or representatives from design, engineering, sales, marketing, and others. Coordinating with these teams to encourage collaboration and ensure that the product development cycle is on track and as per agreed-upon specifications, timelines, and budgets
  • Stakeholder engagement: Liasoning between product teams across departments and communicating critical updates and progress to external stakeholders
  • Feedback assessment: Collecting customer or end-user feedback through focus group studies, surveys, and basic data analysis. Filtering in the relevant and high-impact feedback from major customers to enhance product usability
  • Change management: Monitoring competition, market trends, and other variables to adjust and recalibrate the product strategy
  • Product launch: Planning and executing pre-launch and D-day product marketing activities to ensure a smooth and memorable product launch into the market
  • Performance analysis: Defining key performance indicators (KPIs) and using them to measure product performance
  • Risk management: Identifying potential risks and challenges that can hamper product development and provisioning for it to maintain sustainability
  • Product or feature updates: Using data-driven insights to evaluate customer requirements or gaps in the existing product, which the product team will address during the development of a new product or feature

Product managers must possess many skills to manage and orchestrate such diverse activities.

What Does a Day in The Life of a Product Manager Look Like? 

When you are a product manager, no two days are alike. One day, you brainstorm with the engineering team and the other, you understand the challenges the customer service and support teams face. You could craft user stories based on customer feedback or prepare a go-to-market strategy with the sales team.

That said, two things are a constant in the day in the life of a product manager.

  1. There will never be a dull moment.
  2. Every day will be meeting heavy. You must attend about 3-5 product management meetings with various cross-functional teams and stay heavily involved throughout.

On that note, here is a breakdown of what a typical day in the life of a product manager looks like:

Morning: Communication and collaboration 

Product managers will dedicate their mornings to catching up on pending tasks, prioritizing them, and updating the product roadmap for the day. As such, the morning revolves around:

  • Checking emails, messages, and other asynchronous communication channels for urgent messages, issues, or updates
  • Hosting a daily standup meeting (or a core team meeting) with different cross-functional teams to take stock of the ongoing tasks, progress, and challenges
  • Engaging in discussions with the core product engineering teams and addressing any roadblocks, clarifying requirements, and ensuring comprehension of the product vision
  • Setting priorities for the day and communicating the day’s agenda and expected deliverables to the different teams

Since product management meetings are an integral part of the first half of the day in the life of a product manager, here’s a quick overview of what occurs during  meetings with cross-functional teams:

  • Product development team: Checking in on the progress made by the development teams, reviewing the prototype or product demos, and sharing user stories
  • Design team: Helping the design team overcome creative blocks, suggesting ideas and innovations, and reviewing existing design elements
  • Marketing team: Granting them access to proper marketing material, messages, resources, and other collateral required to resonate with the target audience 
  • Sales team: Collaborating with the marketing team, understanding specific challenges faced while meeting sales targets, and reviewing past sales performance
  • Customer support team: Ensuring that the customer support team has the requisite training to tackle customer issues and capture customer feedback for product enhancement

Afternoon: Strategic planning and thinking 

The afternoon is the most dynamic part of the day in the life of a product manager. During this period, they’ll spend time planning and ideating. As such, you will find them:

  • Following up on the numbers shared by the sales and marketing teams and carrying out an in-depth SWOT analysis of the product
  • Reviewing recurring problems flagged in the customer support tickets and using them as inputs to identify areas of product refinement
  • Studying the market conditions by catching up on industry trends, credible news and reports, expert analysis, competitor strategies, blog posts, and other literature
  • Recalibrating various product-related strategies depending on the market conditions, customer demands, and issues with the current strategies
  • Analyzing the product usage data through various product management metrics like Active Users, Retention Rate, Session Duration, User Engagement, etc.
  • Carrying out competitor analysis to establish benchmarks of how your product fares against  competitors, identify opportunities to differentiate product and gain a competitive edge, and replicate successful strategies for accelerating product growth
  • Ensuring collaboration and communication between the team members, teams, and departments, and addressing any issues or conflicts that arise during it
  • Testing the product or its prototypes to ensure that it meets the required design and usability standards
  • Track the project, monitor progress against the project timeline and note the areas that need to be adjusted.  Tweaking aspects like resource allocation, risk mitigation, change management, etc., to keep everything on track
  • Communicating with the product owners and updating them on the product status, anticipated challenges, feature-budget-timeline trade-offs, etc.

Evening: Deliberating next steps 

As the work day nears the end, product managers will take this time for review, reflection, and documentation. In this phase, they will:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of all the tasks and user stories completed during the day, including the ongoing ones. Ensure that each item aligns with the quality standards and overall project management goals
  • Update the roadmap on the product management tools so that all team members, upper management, and external stakeholders are on the same page about the day’s achievements, milestones, and setbacks
  • Reflect on the key takeaways recorded in the post-sprint meetings and compare the objectives reached so far against the planned ones while evaluating successes and areas of improvement
  • Document problem statements and propose hypotheses and potential solutions. Circulate them amongst the relevant stakeholders for reflection to set up collaborative problem-solving and decision-making
  • Assess the product backlog and the insights gained through them
  • Engage in day-end communication and collaboration with core team members to address any outstanding issues or concerns
  • Capture the key learnings and highlights from the day’s activities. This log offers perspective and sheds light on the product development process
  • Prepare for the following day by outlining priorities, taking note of challenges, and the next steps to keep the momentum flowing into the next workday

Benefits and Challenges of Being a Product Manager 

From everything discussed so far, it is evident that product management is challenging. At the same time, it is a rewarding profession with attractive perks. Against this background, let’s look at some of the benefits and challenges of being a product manager.

First, we’ll start with the advantages that come with the role:

  • Since you’re responsible for the product and its development, you see the direct impact of the value it brings to the organization or its workflows
  • You visualize the impact of your product or its improvements on the end-user through UX metrics and customer feedback
  • The ability to work with a diverse set of cross-functional teams offers exposure to different business operations while honing communication and interpersonal skills
  • You enjoy a high degree of autonomy and ownership of the product, which encourages you to take strategic risks to achieve higher success
  • Your decision-making and problem-solving skills are continually under test, and you’re seeking out innovation and improvements in your product
  • It is a position that calls for continuous learning as you have to stay educated on your product features and specifications while remaining updated on market dynamics, industry trends, and emerging technologies
  • You gain a deep understanding of your product and its competitive differentiator against the prevailing market conditions
  • Mastering the art of product management unlocks various career growth opportunities that can get you into the C-suite

Next, we have the not-so-good parts:

  • Balancing short-term goals with the long-term product vision can be exhausting, especially with competing priorities and changing stakeholder expectations
  • Lacking a clear goal or being blindsided by sudden market disruptions and shifts leads to significant uncertainty in product management
  • Catering to different stakeholder expectations with varying priorities and interests can be a challenge
  • Sustaining channels of communication and transmitting information through technical and non-technical stakeholders can be difficult
  • Defining the right set of performance metrics to measure product success is complex and involves working with qualitative and quantitative data
  • Managing time and budget constraints against quality requirements can be a delicate balancing act
  • Handling customer or user feedback while meeting the product objectives lends some degree of ambiguity to product management
  • Having the entire product team rely on you can be ever-so-slightly daunting

Streamlining the Work of Product Managers with ClickUp

ClickUp is a powerful work management tool that fuels productivity, collaboration, and efficiency. If you wish to acquire a skill, ClickUp pushes you towards this goal. If you’re already brilliant at something, ClickUp helps you get better at it—and the same goes for product management.

Here’s a snapshot of how to use ClickUp for Product Management:

Centralized task management

ClickUp 3.0 Assigned comments in Tasks
Create, manage, and assign tasks in just a click with ClickUp

ClickUp is a centralized platform for managing multiple projects. Use it to organize your ongoing projects and the underlying tasks. Effortlessly create, assign, and track tasks in just a few clicks, regardless of the stage within the product lifecycle.

Proactively oversee all tasks and move the product forward by setting priorities, factoring in task dependencies, and configuring automated workflows. The latter can be mission-critical for backlog management.

Ready-to-use templates

Product Strategy Template by ClickUp
Product Strategy Template by ClickUp

When using ClickUp, product managers do not have to start their job from scratch. ClickUp hosts a library of ready-to-use templates that improve your probability of success. Simply pick the suitable product management templates and start creating your product.

Interactive roadmaps

ClickUp Gantt Chart View Product Example
Interactive and engaging product roadmaps on ClickUp

Product planning and road mapping become increasingly manageable with ClickUp. Product managers can build interactive and visual roadmaps depicting the product development process while marking the various timelines and milestones that come along the way. The intuitive drag-and-drop feature makes updating product roadmaps painless.

High-level project view

ClickUp Product Backlog List View Example
A product backlog list view for quick inputs

ClickUp offers a top-level view of the product lifecycle. Glean the current development status, the activities underway, the stakeholders involved, deadlines, milestones, and more at a glance.

Switch between different product development templates to match your specific requirements. The simplicity of such a dashboard ensures that the information it holds is accessible and understandable to all—from development teams to product owners.

Real-time collaboration

ClickUp 3.0 Custom Field Manager Simplified
Collaborative Product Design space on ClickUp

ClickUp acts as a platform for establishing omnichannel communication—both internal and external. Product managers can share suggestions, inputs, advice, or instructions directly within a task through comments and tags. 

The instant messaging feature lets them chat with other team members in real-time. Not to mention that they can use ClickUp for sprint planning and daily team meetings or standups. 

Progress tracking and reporting

clickup goals feature
ClickUp allows goal-specific progress tracking

ClickUp is instrumental in progress tracking. It is a one-stop repository of a wealth of information surrounding the project status and progress. The flexibility of switching between different visualization tools lends greater transparency.

At the same time, the platform generates beneficial, data-driven, and insightful reports that shed light on any inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and opportunities that need immediate attention.

Learn about AI tools for product managers!

Product Management Tools to Make Your Average Days Better

This blog post is your window into the typical day in the life of a Project Manager. With such rich insights, you will appreciate how product management tools, like ClickUp, inject efficiency, accuracy, and quality into the complex web of day-to-day product management activities. Whether it is preparing a schedule for the day (or week or month) or addressing backlog to catch up on some pending tasks—ClickUp offers you an optimum solution to make your day brighter!

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