What Does a Product Manager Do?
What Does a Product Manager Do?
What Does a Product Manager Do?

Every product begins with an idea, a spark of inspiration. Transforming that idea from a thought into a physical, functional product takes expertise and dedication. From concept to creation, manufacturing to distribution, marketing to customer service, a multitude of details go into product development. Product managers are the professionals tasked with the big picture, coordinating and overseeing the steps along the way.

Without careful oversight, businesses can miss deadlines, misallocate budgets, and require costly changes, making what a product manager does incredibly influential to a company’s bottom line. For graduates who enjoy the challenge of balancing team leadership with organization, pursuing an advanced degree such as a online Master of Business Administration (MBA) can provide them with the skills required to take on a fulfilling career in product management.

A product manager holding a tablet in a warehouse.

Duties of a Product Manager

The market for products both online and offline is constantly evolving. For companies looking to meet the needs of consumers, keeping up with trends and adapting to the changing landscape can be incredibly challenging. As demands change and more businesses transition online, the need for product managers who understand how to capitalize on technological development and web-based resources grows with it.

With overwhelming options and consumer choices, creating a competitive product takes knowledge of current trends and the ability to deliver those products quickly and efficiently. What product managers do on a daily basis can vary broadly depending on where a product is in the product life cycle.

The five stages of the product life cycle include:

  • Development: Product development begins with an idea and progresses with industry research, identifying the needs of consumers and how a product can fulfill those needs. With careful testing and innovation, companies can create a product that fills a niche in the market. Development is a costly phase in the product life cycle, and product managers must ensure it’s as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
  • Introduction: Building awareness and marketing a product is an essential component of product management. Once a product is released to the market, companies must capitalize on the opportunity to build attraction and sales momentum.
  • Growth: During the growth stage of a product’s life cycle, what product managers do shifts from introductory marketing toward establishing a brand and ensuring it stands out against the competition.
  • Maturity: Maintaining relevance and popularity once a product has spent time on the market can be challenging. Product managers must weigh the pros and cons of different strategies, such as price reduction or product updates, to prolong demand as much as possible.
  • Decline: Products can experience decline for a variety of reasons, from increased competition or innovation to seasonal trends or the need to update technology. Product managers must analyze and understand this decline, strategizing to capitalize on as many sales as possible and discontinuing products to protect their organizations from losses.

Throughout the product life cycle, product managers spearhead strategies to achieve an organization’s objectives, working to ensure products are being made and marketed with the most efficient method possible, meeting consumers’ needs.

Product Manager Roles and Responsibilities

Not to be confused with project managers, product managers are responsible for the big picture of product development, delegating the details to project management team members. With tasks ranging from creative aspects to organizational ones and throughout a product’s life cycle, the roles and responsibilities required of product managers combine leadership skills and practical administrative knowledge, requiring successful product managers to be able to take on a multitude of challenges.

On a given day, what product managers do may include:

  • Choosing a product direction and creating a product strategy
  • Analyzing customers’ needs and tailoring technological goals toward achieving those needs
  • Assembling a team and delegating tasks among members
  • Collecting and analyzing data to measure a product’s success
  • Adapting marketing strategies to meet consumer needs and feedback

From providing input on which ideas to pursue, to overseeing development and marketing, to determining the financial strategies and trajectory of a product, product managers work to navigate their companies toward success, working to reach their personal and professional goals.

How to Become a Product Manager

What product managers do is essential to the success of businesses across industries, from online retailers and organizations to traditional companies. While there is no set path to become a product manager, most individuals in management positions have at minimum a bachelor’s degree, with many seeking an advanced degree such as a online MBA to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to take on challenging senior-level roles.

For candidates interested in becoming senior product managers, combining work experience with an advanced education can be incredibly valuable. An MBA program, for example, allows them to build advanced management and administrative skills while gaining a thorough knowledge of the market demands facing a specific organization or industry.

Whether it be an online or traditional business, product managers may work from a variety of settings, including offices, industrial job sites, or even their homes or abroad. By understanding which type of product management appeals to them the most, future management leaders have the opportunity to create the career that’s right for them, building experience in organizations that meet their personal and professional goals.

Product Manager Salary and Job Outlook

The day-to-day tasks and responsibilities involved in what product managers do can have a profound impact on a company’s bottom line. As graduates gain experience and advance in the industry, they may have the opportunity to take on coveted positions that involve important financial decisions, steering the future of an organization. Along with seniority and years of experience, multiple variables can influence a manager’s salary, including education, job location, and industry.

PayScale reports the approximate median annual salary for product managers was $89,000 as of July 2022, while the approximate median annual salary for senior product managers was $129,000. In comparison, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that the median annual salary for all management occupations was $102,450 as of May 2021.

Create a Bright Future as a Product Manager

Product managers have the opportunity to bring new ideas to life. Working with a host of other dedicated professionals, what a product manager does involves more than simply scheduling or planning. It’s a process of piecing together the building blocks of innovation.

For graduates who are organized, detail oriented, and looking to take on a new challenge, pursuing an advanced degree such as Maryville University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) can help prepare them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in product management. Fully online with 12 available concentrations and six start times per year, Maryville University’s program is designed to provide you with the education you need while maintaining a work-life balance. Discover how you can begin an exciting new career in product management.

Recommended Reading

Brand Engagement Guide for Your Business

Entrepreneur vs. Intrapreneur

MSF vs. MBA: Differences in Degrees


Payscale, Average Product Manager

Payscale, Average Senior Product Manager

The Product Manager, “Product Management Roles and Responsibilities”

The Product Manager, “What Does a Product Manager Do? 7 Day to Day Roles & Tasks”

The Product Manager, “Why Is Product Management Important?”

Survey Monkey, The 5 Stages of the Product Life Cycle

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Occupations

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