What Are the Responsibilities of a Product Manager by Google PM

It is important to know the responsibilities of a role before launching yourself into it. This session takes us through an informative and cognitive discussion, which educates us on the key responsibilities of a successful Product Manager. Trevor Back, the speaker for the night, gives a scholastic perspective about the impact of a Product Manager.

Trevor Back

Trevor Back has an interesting background, with a PhD in Computational Astrophysics. He is currently working with Google DeepMind as a Product Manager. His incredible problem-solving skills led him to pursue Product Management, coming to the role with an analytical mindset. He is particularly interested in applying deep learning strategies in the healthcare industry.

Trevor Back

What are the Responsibilities of a Product Manager?

A Product Manager is the navigation system of a product development team, where they drive each and every department involved in the process, with the right decisions and resources to ensure a timely delivery.

There are many roles that a PM plays in a team. When evaluated thoroughly, everything boils down to one thing. Impact. They are responsible for every decision precisely to bring an expected impact for the organisation.

It may either be deciding whom to take onboard or what resources to use, and when. Ultimately, the impact of their decisions decide the fate of the project.

Use case: Before beginning to frame the product, it is the key requirement of a PM to conclude on the use case of the product.

Metrics & success: A PM is always recognized by his success. His success is coined by the success graph of the product he is responsible for.

It is wise for a PM to analyze and set an expected success scale of a product, before beginning to work on it. This helps in post evaluation of the metrics and the success rate.

Collaboration, leadership, advocacy: Leading without authority is the significant role of a product manager. This involves extensive collaboration with a number of researchers, advocates, designers, engineers, marketers, UX engineers, etc and get them working towards a single goal and driving leadership through it.

Velocity & delivery: The difference between a program manager and a product manager is that the former mainly focuses on execution. While a PM is always working on the velocity of the process. 

Managing uncertainty & complexity: It is inevitable to encounter uncertainties during a project’s lifetime. However, it is the PM who manages the unforeseen challenges while still giving enough space for the team to work with their ideas.

Mucking in: Sometimes, a person involved in a particular aspect of the product is unavailable when they are needed. It is the responsibility of the PM to then muck-in to perform his/her role or bring in a replacement, to ensure that the process is not halted. The main focus of the PM must always be to reach the finish line!

Solve impactful problems using new technologies

It is important to recognize the prime area of research needed while developing a project. Most often this area is found in the intersection of New technologies, Use Case and Domain expertise:

Solve impactful problems using new technologies graph

Back expands on this concept by giving an example of it in one of his own projects; a clinically inclined project that thrives on deep learning. The main objective of the project is to develop a product that helps in detection of eye impairment.

Key Takeaway

A successful PM is able to justify their work, and foresee the impact of their actions in advance. This aids with crucial decision making, and helps to pre-plan for inevitable bumps in the road.

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