What (and why) is a PM responsible for?

When developing any product, there are three questions we must answer:

  • What are we making?

  • Why are we making it?

  • How are we going to make it?

The role of the Product Manager or Product team is to answer the what and the why.

The role of the Engineering and Design team, is to identify how we do that.

These are fluid, on some teams a Product Manager never gets involved with the how. On others the Product Manager comes to the table with ways competing products have done it, or with an analogous product in a different vertical that could inform how the team executes on the PM’s what and why.

On the other end of things, I’ve been that product-focused engineering leader that would challenge the Product Manager to articulate a better why and I’ve been very excited to help determine what we should solve next from a long list of things we should solve.

The most important bit for a Product Manager to understand, is to stay away from prescribing how the team should execute on your vision. Engineering teams and design teams can surprised you with what they come up with.