Product Managers: The secret weapon of successful digital products

By Ryan Lock 1/26/20214 Min Read — In Product

The idea of a digital agency Product Manager might seem strange at first glance. Especially in a tech startup, where the founder has a clear vision of the product, and a deep understanding of the target user. Not to mention the authority to create change. But the humble Product Manager is not on the rate card without good reason. Well, five good reasons to be precise.

1. We're here to save you time and money

Ambitious by nature, founders often envisage complex feature sets when developing or iterating a product. No big surprise given the countless hours they’ve spent dreaming up their perfect app. As Product Managers, our job is to challenge you to do less; or, rather, do only what is required to meet your goals.

By assessing your objectives we’re able to advise on what to build and how. After all, there is no value in building 'cool feature x' unless we can prove it’s going to shift the needle. There’s also no value building ‘cool feature x’ from scratch if a third party option exists that’s going to save you time and money.

Being a 'yes' person is always the path of least resistance, so, challenging founders can be an uncomfortable process for Product Managers. But the success of your business is our top priority, so we will always challenge your thinking if there’s a chance it will elevate the results.

2. We're here to be the voice of your people

Though many founders have spent months if not years investigating what makes their target audience tick, Product Managers are there to interrogate the findings, and also discover new ones.

In the long, often drawn-out process of ideation, it’s not uncommon for founders to develop cognitive bias around their users. For example, a 'confirmation bias' is where you inadvertently seek out information to support what you already believe to be true. Do the majority of the users really want to see 'cool feature x', or just the users you want to listen to? We’re here to help you find out.

As a business grows, founders also tend to have less time for active user research, including the response to new features, or any changes to the product or product context. Product Managers work to fill in those blanks, so the founder can stay focused on the bigger picture.

3. We're here to share our bag of tricks

Whilst most founders possess a clear vision of their product and the desired output, not all come from a product background. An agency Product Manager brings the processes and tools to help execute that vision. From payment gateways and CRMs to analytics and user research, we bring both the experience and expertise to make problems a thing of the past, and turn your ideas into actualities.

4. We're here to do the dirty work

For those familiar with SCRUM parlance, the Product Owner is responsible for managing the development backlog, ensuring work is correctly scoped, unblocking developers, overseeing testing and releases, and maximising workflow improvements. For most Planes projects, Product Managers will also take on this less than glamorous but critical role to make sure we are delivering maximum value to our clients.

5. We're here to get the job done

The terms Project Management and Product Management are often confused. While Product Management supports the founder in defining the what and why of the product, Project Management deals with the how and when. Product Managers at Planes wear both hats (but only one at time because wearing two hats looks ridiculous), so founders can sleep soundly knowing specifications are agreed, timelines are maintained, risks are managed, resource is planned, and stakeholders are covered.

As Product Managers, we not only have access to an incredible range of tools and processes, we also have the nous to use them. And even though the tasks and requirements may vary from project to project, the Product Manager’s purpose remains the same: to collaborate closely with our clients to build the best product possible and, in turn, the best possible business.

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