What does a Product Manager do?
Wikipedia defines product management as “an organizational lifecycle function within a company dealing with the planning, forecasting, or marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle. Product management often serves an inter-disciplinary role, bridging gaps within the company between teams of different expertise, most notably between engineering-oriented teams and commercially-oriented marketing and sales teams.”
Put another way:
Think of a Product Manager as the conductor of the orchestra, the sheet music as the PRD (product requirements doc), the musicians as the engineers, marketers and designers and the audience as the customer.
What are APIs?
Application Programming Interfaces. Wikipedia definition: Source code based specification intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other.” Think of them as a set of guidelines and specifications that allow developers to build interesting products and features leveraging the Sears.com, Kmart.com and MyGofer.com site functionality and data.
Put another way:
Think of Sears.com as a car, developers as after-market accessory manufacturers and APIs as the set of specifications that make sure the 24″ rims, custom roof racks or bumper guards fit the car.
So what exactly am I doing?
I have two main job responsibilities:
- Lead the product offering/development and marketing roadmap for our Sears Developer Network site and Open API Platform.
- Evangelize or raise awareness of our suite of APIs to developers and provide them with the support and tools they need to build interesting products/features leveraging our data.
Why did I change my career path?
Quite simply, I missed tech. I enjoyed my career in social media, but found my role becoming increasingly tied to online marketing campaigns than the underlying technology platforms.
Furthermore, I felt a lack of entrepreneurial freedom (intrapreneurial, in this case). I like creating things. Counting Firmology and Firmology Reviews, I’ve launched 6 online-based businesses ranging from eCommerce sites to media sites. Product management is similar to running your own business as you’re essentially running your own show and are held accountable for the success or failure of every decision you make.
Being a people person, the best part is I get to meet and do business with a variety of interesting people within engineering, user experience, online marketing, finance, legal, vendors, consultants and most important, our customers. In the context of my specific role as Product Manager for our suite of APIs, my customers are internal and external developers, founders of tech startups and executives like VPs of Business Development.
It’s only been about a month and a half since I started transitioning into the role, but it’s been amazing so far. It’s empowering knowing that the sky is the limit and the role is truly what you make of it.
Help me learn!
Any of you in product management? Help me learn! My goal is to learn about and read everything I can about product management. I’ve found some interesting (and some hilariously entertaining!) product management blogs like The Accidental Product Manager, On Product Management, The Experience is the Product, The Cranky Product Manager and a number of others listed on Alltop’s Product Management section. What blogs, sites or books do you recommend I check out? Do you have any tips for me? Leave a comment below