Figuring out how to get them on board with your point of view is the second. Becoming a great storyteller—even when you don’t have any data to back up your point—will take you a long way. Understanding which levers to pull with which person is the key to leading without any direct authority. When this happens expectations get misaligned, time gets wasted, and teams run the risk of creating products or features that don’t satisfy customer needs. Whether or not a team is adhering to a certain agile practice (and which one), can further muddy the waters when it comes to what a product manager does. For instance, if a team is practicing scrum, then they also need to have a product owner.

A director of product oversees the entire life cycle of product development, including design, manufacturing, goods distribution, and marketing for a company. They work with other departments to ensure that products are developed and released on schedule, meet customer demands, and are profitable. A director of the product may also be responsible for managing a team of product managers.

Related Product Management Careers

Though likely to do the same job more or less, the senior product manager is responsible for larger tasks. For example, they may take the mantle for a larger or more important feature or product within the company. As Head of Product, I may need to push my team to get out of the (virtual) office. That first month can’t be spent exclusively on inward-looking agile artifacts or technical analysis. In many ways, this is similar to the Architect track in engineering (in contrast to the CTO track), and something we should encourage more.

what is head of product

The head of product will manage the product vision, strategy, execution of the company’s product suite. Excellent communication skills are vital since you will be working with multiple stakeholders across the organization, including product owners, engineers, and product designers. The ideal candidate for this position will have a minimum of 7 years of experience in product management, with at least 3 years in a leadership role. He or she will have a deep understanding of the software development process and experience working with agile methodologies.

Experience and education requirements

Considering the leap from being a product manager to head of product management, but not sure what’s involved in managing product managers? The responsibilities of product leadership and the skills required are very different from those of a product manager. The director of product management is a senior leadership role within the product management department. Generally, this role is two levels below the chief product officer (CPO) and one layer above mid-level product managers. Before leaping, brush up on your product leadership skills in market research, data analysis, and project management. And once you’re in the role, stay focused on setting and achieving goals, driving product strategy, and leading your team to success.

In addition, the CPO should mentor these product management officers to ensure they are constantly improving their professional skills and receiving assistance when necessary. But touching every decision isn’t the product manager’s job—at least it shouldn’t be. One of the keys to great product management is empowering your team to make their own decisions by creating a shared brain—or a way of making decisions and a set of criteria for escalating them.

What’s A Vice President of Product Management?

Broadly speaking, though, a good product manager will spend his or her time on a handful of tasks. A product leader also needs to assess the team’s progress and whether they are succeeding. So, we’ll start by reminding you that moving up on the company org chart isn’t always the right strategy for everyone.

  • However, in smaller organizations with fewer than 5,000 employees, the role is often collapsed and the team reports directly to the vice president of product management or head of product instead.
  • The VP of Product is slightly below the Head of Product, though in some teams these titles may be used interchangeably.
  • But within that, I observe that seasoned product managers can learn most of what they need within 1-2 months.
  • They also work closely with the engineering team to ensure that the product is built to specification and meets the customer’s needs.
  • If you think of the two roles hierarchically, the Director of Product sits above the Product Manager, overseeing high-level work with a focus on leadership.

A head of product will have several years of experience working in a product management team. Most people who obtain this position will have worked as a product manager and have experience managing teams. In larger teams, there is a separation between product managers and senior product managers.

The head of product management’s role:

Large companies may have the head of product report to the product director or VP of product. However, in smaller companies, the head of product may be the most senior role in the product management division. They work cross-functionally across teams and take on more responsibility for the product strategy and team. By focusing on your career path, product managers may find it easier to transition to higher-ranking job roles.

what is head of product

By whatever title, I am referring here to your most senior product role in your company or business unit. The need for a more agile approach to product management is becoming increasingly important as businesses become more competitive. In order to stay ahead of the competition, companies need to be able to quickly adapt to changes in the market and release new products that meet customer needs. Here are three trends influencing how directors of product management work. Directors of product management will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Over the last three decades, across 10 full-time jobs and 180 consulting clients, I’ve headed up product teams 18 times (mostly as interim VP) and helped another dozen companies choose their Head of Product. Here are some patterns I’ve seen in picking successful Heads of Product. A strong product culture means that the team understands the importance of continuous and rapid testing and learning. They understand that they need to make mistakes in order to learn, but they need to make them quickly and mitigate the risks. This trend is especially true in industries where data is already widely used, such as finance and marketing. By understanding how to use data to make decisions, directors can ensure that their teams are making decisions based on facts rather than assumptions or opinions.

what is head of product

What does a head of product do during their day-to-day responsibilities? They look out for their team and ensure that they are on track to meet their goals. This could involve collaborating with team members, removing roadblocks, or participating in meetings with stakeholders. They’ll also focus more on product specifics, such as design specs and user experience. The VP of Product may also take on some of the legwork of communicating with customers, collecting feedback (with a tool like FeedBear), as well as building roadmaps. As the head of the product team, their job is to ensure every part of the team runs smoothly, and that the products they ship meet the company’s standard.