In our ever-evolving digital world, the digital product manager has become one of the most sought-after positions in tech. Through their insights and expertise they can contribute greatly to the seamless functioning of digital products. But what exactly do they do and why is their role so essential to product development?
This article delves into the responsibilities and skills of a digital product manager, shedding light on what sets them apart in the digital landscape.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is a digital product manager?
- What does a digital product manager do?
- How to become a digital product manager
- Digital product manager FAQs
1. What is a digital product manager?
A digital product manager (DPM) is someone who focuses on digital products or services, as opposed to physical ones. They play a vital part in the product development process, where they serve as visionary, strategist, and team manager—as well acting as a bridge between departments.
2. What does a digital product manager do?
The DPM is responsible to lead and manage the complete product development cycle. They have a vision for the product, which takes into account the needs of the users, as well as the overarching business goals.
With this vision in mind, they work on a concept, which happens in collaboration with a cross-functional team. Then they communicate the plans to the development team, who will build the product, and manage their workload.
The DPM will also keep a close eye on data, such as key performance indicators (also known as KPIs), in order to make informed decisions and track the product success.
While the tasks of a digital product manager can vary from company to company, here are some of the main responsibilities they usually take on:
Product strategy: A crucial part of product management is planning the short, mid, and long term strategy for the product, in the form of a roadmap. For this, a DPM will have to analyze the market, deeply understand the user’s needs, and take into account the company’s overall goals.
Feature planning and prioritization: Together with a multidisciplinary team, usually made up of a UX and/or UI designer, a software developer and other relevant stakeholders, such as someone from Sales, Account Management, or Marketing, the digital product manager runs through a discovery process to find appropriate solutions to the user’s problems.
These solutions usually come in the form of new functions to the product, called features, which need to be integrated into the roadmap and prioritized against each other.
Stakeholder management: As mentioned above, the DPM works together with a lot of people from different departments to plan and build the product.
Furthermore, it’s their responsibility to report the performance of the product to relevant stakeholders that need this information, as well as offer support when it comes to issues the product might experience.
Learn more about how PMs carry this out in our full guide to stakeholder management.
Defining and monitoring KPIs: In order to find out how the product is performing and whether the company goals are achieved, a DPM will have to set and monitor key performance indicators.
These KPIs measure things such as how active the user has been on the product, how much it costs to convert a user from a non paying to a paying one or how long a user stayed during a session. These days, there are many tools that visualize such data, to make monitoring and analyzing it as easy as possible.
The spectrum of responsibilities within digital product management is broad and so is the spectrum of skills necessary. However, here a list of the main skills each DPM should have:
- Critical thinking
- Analytical thinking
- Problem solving
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills
- Technical proficiency
4. How to become a digital product manager
There are several ways to get into digital product management. One way is to move into the position from a related field and learn everything on the job. This way usually works best if you move positions within a company and if you have a mentor to learn from.
That is how I moved into the DPM position myself. I started out as a software tester and then asked to move to product management. Being a software tester at first gave me the advantage of knowing the product already, as well as the team members and the processes within the team.
In fact, this route is quite common. According to ProductSchool’s Future of Product Management report, over 50% of PMs surveyed came from non-Product backgrounds.
Since this is not always possible, a great first step is also to take a certification program or bootcamp, such as CareerFoundry’s Product Management Program, which will give you all the knowledge you need to get started in a junior DPM position.
It’s even possible to do a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in product management these days. Those programs are very new though, and the industry is still very open for people coming from all different kinds of educational and professional backgrounds.
5. Digital product manager FAQs:
Still unsure about some things? Let’s have a look at the most frequently asked questions:
How much does a digital product manager earn?
Aren’t all PMs digital product managers?
Not all product managers focus on digital products, some take care of physical products or services instead. However, with the world becoming more and more digital, there is a high demand for digital product managers and thus many product manager job ads refer to digital instead of traditional PMs, without expressly writing “digital” in the title.
How will generative AI affect digital product management?
Artificial Intelligence can be used to automate processes within product management, especially when it comes to collecting data, analyzing it, finding patterns and making predictions for the future. Many DPMs spend a lot of time on data-related tasks and if those are automated, they will have more time to spend on tasks that need human input, such as product strategy.
In our increasingly digital world, it becomes more and more important to have people that know how to envision, create and maintain successful digital products. All while taking into account market trends, user behaviors and technical advancements. Therefore, the demand for skilled digital product managers is rising steadily.
If you want to learn more about product management, check out CareerFoundry’s Intro to Product Management Course, which will give you a great basis for your career as a digital product manager.
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