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Anatomy of a great product manager
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By Karthik Yajurvedi

Published March 30, 2014

World-class products don’t appear out of thin air. They are conscious, deliberate creations to fulfill customers’ unmet needs built with a tight and effective collaboration inside the product organization. This article sheds light on some of the key attributes of a great product manager who is accountable for the success of the product. 

Category: Planning, Analysis & Strategy


What is the secret of some companies that make ground breaking products? How do they solve their customer needs so well that they keep coming back? How do some products align so well with their company’s vision and capabilities to make significant contributions to their bottom line? Some answers might be that these companies were founded or nurtured by visionaries or just that these products were fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. While they could all be true, is there a set of underlying qualities or traits interwoven within the fabric of the product teams that can create such greatness? What does the product manager often called as the CEO of the product need to bring to the table? For a lively discussion on the key traits of innovative product managers, please attend the upcoming BPMA event with guest speaker Jeff Lash, Research Director with SiriusDecisions. 

This article explores some of the critical attributes of product managers that essentially make or break the product.

Product Intuition

Great product managers have the ability to envision a great product even before it is built. They are capable of identifying products that solve customers’ gaps and true needs. They are passionate advocates willing to entertain various points of view to drum up additional opportunities for the product. They serve as the beacon for the product, looking ahead, making calculated assumptions, but at the same time monitoring and adjusting those assumptions.

Alignment with Company’s Vision

Being strategic and aligning the product to the company’s broad vision enhances the bottom line true to the statement - the whole is greater than sum of its parts. The opportunity to take advantage of the backing the company could provide in addition to various inter-departmental synergies would result in savings to the product cost and thus positively affect the profitability. It is also important for the product manager to understand the current capabilities of the company and incorporate it into the product plan.

Sharp Intellect, Problem Solving Skills

Great product managers are sharp, current and able to think on their feet. They connect the dots, solve problems by taking all and many times opposing points of view. They use data available from business analytics and marry it with their intuition of customer needs and gaps, align it with the broad vision of their organization and then come up with solutions that may not be very obvious on the fore front.

Facilitator, Solution Hunter

Product managers that can project into minds of colleagues and customers can successfully channel multiple points of view, play devil’s advocate to drive the right solution and feature set for the product. They are great at brainstorming, encouraging all ideas while not wedded to any with the creativity to combine them to arrive at an effective solution. 

Cross-functional Collaboration

Great product managers collaborate well with other specialties such as engineering, design, marketing, sales and business development. They are gifted communicators able to tailor their messages based on the audience; convey product requirements to engineers, relay complicated technical details to non-technical colleagues and customers, partner with sales on how the product can further drive sales and make money for the company, develop consistent collateral with marketing. 

Competitive Intelligence

Excellent product managers are one step ahead of the competition. They know where they are better or different and where they need to adapt to bring greater customer value. They are able to incorporate the competitive landscape in the product material with marketing team. 

Other Core Leadership Skills

Being the CEO of the product, many of the critical traits that great leaders possess need to be present in great product managers; astute listening, time management and able to work across the organization to name a few.

In summary, effective product managers plays a critical role in building successful products that become profitable businesses for the company. Being a highly leveraged position, they have a significant impact on revenue, morale and reputation of both themselves and the company. A great product manager’s uncanny product intuition aligned with company’s overall vision can significantly increase the bottom line for both the organization and its customers. The product manager’s solution-orientation, cross-collaboration, intellectual horse power, clear, concise, contextual communication and a keen insight into the competitive landscape is the recipe for building super great products.


Karthik Yajurvedi is a technology professional with vast product development experience in financial services and healthcare and passion in customer-oriented high tech products and emerging technologies.

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