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A Day in the Life of a Product Manager

A product manager's typical daily routine can be broken down into several activities, including researching and analyzing the market for new product features, writing functional specs or product requirement documents (PRD) or tickets, interfacing with engineering teams on progress in stand-ups, collaborating with design team in reviewing wireframes, updating and reporting to executives in product reviews, and evaluating metrics.

Here's a PM's "typical" week.

The calendar is color coded based on different types of activities

  • Blue: core product activities (e.g., gathering business requirements, writing functional specs/PRDs or tickets, analyzing user data, market research, roadmap planning)

  • Yellow: interacting with customers or customer-facing teams (e.g., sales or marketing)

  • Green: tracking progress and triaging with engineering teams in stand-ups and product demos

  • Pink: collaborating with the design team in reviewing wireframes and updating mock-ups

  • Red: reporting to executives in product reviews

  • Grey: other misc. meetings (e.g., all-hands)

Here are examples of tasks and projects that fall into each of these.

Core product activities

  • Conducting regular core team meetings

  • Scrutinizing sales, marketing, and revenue figures related to your product

  • Creating or updating sales training content for your products

  • Researching the market through the examination of analyst reports, influential blogs, competitors' product literature, and market-related news

  • Analyzing usage data of your product and reviewing adoption data for any new features, functionality, or changes in user experience

  • Gathering business requirements

  • Writing functional specs/PRDs or tickets

  • Planning product roadmap

  • Documenting business processes or project management tasks and timeline

  • Manage sprints

Interacting with customers or customer-facing teams

  • Conducting customer surveys and interviews to gather valuable insights

  • Consistently meeting with the support team to ensure they are well-trained to assist customers and gather vital market feedback

  • Participate in customer training sessions

  • Regular meetings with the sales team to guarantee they possess appropriate messaging and materials for product sales, while also collecting feedback from customers and prospects

  • Regular meetings with the marketing team to follow up on campaigns, discuss product marketing strategies, and assess the performance of marketing success metrics

Stand-ups with engineering teams

  • Frequent interactions with the development team, involving progress check-ins, demo reviews, addressing queries, and assisting in refining user stories when necessary

  • Defect triaging

  • Sprint planning and feature scoping, where you and an engineering manager may work on a particular feature or flesh out the technical approach

Collaborate with Design Team

  • Review wireframes and design mockups

  • Design walk-through

Reporting to Executives

  • Conducting product reviews / Steer Committee meetings and communicating roadmap updates to leadership and escalating any issues

  • Garner leadership support and guidance for cross-functional issues and blocks

  • Occasionally you may be presenting in all hands meetings if you work on a new product feature or launching a new product

Surprise Tasks in a Product Manager's Routine

While the aforementioned outlines a typical week for a product manager, the reality of the job often veers away from the norm. Product management is a very dynamic role and you'll encounter many different tasks that can quickly change your schedule. Here are a few examples:

  1. Production Issue:

  • A critical production bug surfaces, demanding immediate attention and becoming a top priority for both you and the team to resolve.

  1. User Research/Customer Meetings:

  • A significant portion of the week may be dedicated to engaging in customer interviews, research sessions, or attending sales meetings, focusing on understanding user needs and market dynamics.

  1. Industry Conferences:

  • Involvement in an industry conference, possibly participating as a speaker or attendee, can tie you up in travel and back-to-back meetings, redirecting your focus for the entire week.

  1. Roadmap Planning:

  • Extensive time is allocated to brainstorming, prioritizing, and finalizing the roadmap for the upcoming quarter, shaping the strategic direction of the product.

A PM's Typical Day

As you can see, product managers rarely find themselves grappling with boredom. The abundance of simultaneous tasks makes PM such a challenging and rewarding job.

A PM's weekly itinerary underscores that it's inherently interdisciplinary. A PM cannot simply seclude themselves; instead, they must actively serve as the hub for the entire team, propelling the product forward and spearheading interactions with engineering, design, sales, marketing, operations, and executives.

While it may be draining, the experience is equally invigorating, especially as the anticipated launch day approaches and the positive impact of the product on customers becomes evident.

To sum it all up and give you a flavor, here's what a PM's typical day may look like.

9AM Stand up with Engineering on current sprint, go over current development progress and any issues. Update JIRA stories and assign new stories or tasks and do estimation

9:30AM Draft "closure, options, and actions" emails. Juggling multiple intricate conversations simultaneously, involving matters spanning technology, design, user feedback, management directives, budgetary considerations, HR affairs, and more.

10AM Work on a sign-in feature requirement and prioritize requirements. You might be pondering questions like "What should our strategy be for China?" or "Is mobile a genuine concern for us?" or "Is our team adequately balanced, or do we need to reassess resources?" or "Is it time to establish explicit core design principles for our product and team?" or "What's the game plan for our major user-testing session?"

10:30AM Design team meeting to review design mockups

11AM Create report for Director of Product on metrics for the last feature release

11:15AM Meeting with business stakeholders to do product demo and do Q&A

11:45AM Quick sync with customer support on customer issues

12PM Lunch

1PM Quick team sync with engineering team on clarifying stories and design.

1:30PM Executive Meeting to give leadership status reports

2PM Customer call and analyze usage data

230PM PM and Sales sync to walk through new product roll-out and sales training

3PM Work on PRD

4PM Coffee break

4:15PM Update deck for timeline and issues for the next executive review meeting

5PM PM and marketing sync to work on website, blogs, and product marketing deck

5:30PM Review metrics and bugs and respond to any slack messages and emails

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