How do you know when you need a product manager?

At ProdPad, we’re proud of the fact that our company was founded by two product managers. And in the startup space it’s common for companies to be founded ‘product people’ – entrepreneurs who had an idea for a product and so set off to build it. But what if you don’t have a product background? Or if you are a product manager, how do you balance the non-product elements of life at a startup? Is a dedicated product management resource worth the investment?

Before you think about resourcing up your team further you’ll need to do some homework. Here’s our suggestions on where to start.

Learn what a product manager actually does

You’re probably thinking you can tackle most PM responsibilities yourself, and that’s completely fair. You may not need a full-time product manager, but you may still have to share those responsibilities between several team members. After all, being part of a startup means that you and your team will be doubling on roles.

Does your product have a vision? Do you have a direction? Do you even know what you’re building and for whom? A product manager can answer all these important questions and ensures that rather than just throwing a bunch of features together, you’re actually solving a problem.

Talk to your team

Part of a product’s life cycle and management is to gather ideas and feedback. At first, you may not have defined your success metrics, or even have enough customers to make an educated decision about what changes to make, or even where your product fits in the market so you are able to make those strategic changes. By gathering feedback from your team, you’ll not only be able to gather some great ideas and influence openness within your own team, but you’ll be able to understand how and where your team stands on important decisions. Most importantly, you’ll understand how your team is working, which will allow you to analyse and apply any needed changes to improve productivity, and deliver better products.

Prepare to grow

The most important thing to keep in mind, is that hiring a product manager indicates product maturity. If you’re at a point where you simply cannot handle all the tasks by yourself or by splitting it between your existing team members, you’ve reached a point in which your product has grown and needs a bit more love and dedication around the edges. This is good news! You’re no longer just a bunch of features put together – you’re solving a real world problem.

As your product matures, the PM’s role will become increasingly time-consuming. So as the team grows, some entrepreneurs will hand over the product reigns to an experienced product manager so that the product can continue to grow and mature properly. Some entrepreneurs find that they’d rather work more closely with the product itself, and so hand over the reigns to the CEO role so that they can focus on what they started, and on what they love: the product.

 

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