A product manager is a bridge between technology, design, and business. Instead of working as an official authority over people, product managers act as a leader and guide teams toward shared goals. However, there is one profession without which senior product managers cannot work. This one profession is called product lead.
The lead product manager takes an active role in setting the direction of the product, while product managers act on the system inside their area of responsibility.
If you are interested in the position of a product lead role and looking for the types, responsibilities, and qualifications, this guide is for you. Continue reading as we will explore everything you need to know about product leads.
Product Leads Role
A product lead is essential for monitoring the development of new products and services. It starts from brand conceptualization and expands to official market release and distribution. Product leads also identify effective product management leads by analyzing and evaluating market statistics of customer needs.
A product lead works with end-users on their specifications and requirements, like their budget limit and timely deliverables. In addition, a product lead manages the brand promotion on media platforms, creates content for the target audience, and identifies the best standard procedures to move forward.
Moving forward, let’s discuss the different types of product leads.
Types of Product Leads
Product leads have three different types based on their roles and responsibilities. The three types of product leads are innovators, builders, and tuners. The job titles in all three types remain the same; however, the duties of every type are different.
Innovators are responsible for product innovation which stimulates expansion by opening up new market opportunities. Product innovation assists firms in diversifying their business and tapping into totally different customer groups. A product lead innovator foresees customers’ needs, designs the products accordingly, and boosts customer retention.
The product lead innovators have the incredibly challenging job of finding a product fit for a brand new product. They are responsible for value proposition, product differentiation, problem-solving, monetization, and more.
Lead product managers adopt a hypothesis-driven approach to validate and iterate on practically every dimension of their product strategy.
The second type of product leads is builders. Builders give the roadmap for an existing product to build it even more helpful, delightful and usable. They are responsible for making the product in such a way that it serves the needs of the target users.
A product lead builder must understand the target user segment, their pain points and biases, and what appeals to them most.
They listen to users for insights on the problems they are solving and take user feature suggestions at face value while understanding customers. A product lead builder knows how to take the deluge of incoming features, prioritize them and develop a coherent roadmap that solves the problems according to customer expectations.
Once they know the customer’s problems, innovation, and building of the product can begin, the next job is growth. Tuners are analytical people and know everything there is to know about executing tests and spending time improving the products.
The tuners focus on the specific growth metrics and must do everything they can to move the metric up.
Tuners are excellent at generating potential tests and then getting these tests in the pipeline. They develop solid internal intuition on what hypotheses are likely to work and what will not work. They also run to prioritize their endless list of potential ideas further.
Once you know the role of a product lead, job titles, and their types, let’s move on to the responsibilities of a senior product professional.
Product Leads Responsibilities
Below are the responsibilities a product lead will perform when on duty.
- Develop product requirements and roadmaps in manufacturing departments
- Lead several product managers and coordinate with marketing and engineering
- Include feedback and input from customers, partners, and in-house teams on product strategy
- Find ways with different members to expand product market reach
- Lead a product leadership team as a development manager
Apart from these primary responsibilities, a product lead manager also performs some additional duties listed below.
- Manage cross-functional teams to ensure lead product development for two complete system development life cycles (SDLC)
- Manage marketing automation or CRM integration effort
- Design, manage, and implement the internationalization QA process for the software.
- Develop product quality and craftsmanship improvement with a product roadmap
- Help achieve vehicle-level craftsmanship targets at launch.
- Help portfolio management practices establish business ownership across divisions and train stakeholders on how to manage, prioritize and scope their backlog.
- Instruct and lead UX designers for multiple product development teams and product backlog
- Architect new alliances, create an internet marketing strategy, oversee sales efforts and innovate redistribution channels.
- Develop cloud-based APIs to integrate enterprise applications as well as 3rd party applications
- Collaborate and advise the development team, several product managers, QA, senior management, chief product officers, business administration, and end users to maintain a comfort level regarding overall project progress
- Use extreme programming, traditional waterfall process, and scrum to establish a multi-location and support operation.
- Architect, design, and implement the database application layer and business object layer, to be used by the applications and API
- Develop intelligent internet agents in Java focusing on individual components
- Use SQL to help data-driven analysis and decision process to inform project prioritization, troubleshoot issues, and assess feature effectiveness.
- Provide detailed input on UI/UX flow plans for mobile, embedded devices, and web applications.
If you understand the role and responsibilities of a product lead and want to join a product organization, you must have specific qualifications to fulfill the job description. Below we will discuss the required stuff and job description for a product lead job.
Product Leads Qualification Requirements
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, product lead jobs are expected to grow at an 8% rate faster than the average. So, if you are considering becoming a product lead, take the growth rate into account as well. However, this is not to worry about, as the number of product lead opportunities projected to become available by 2028 is 21,800.
Below are some qualifications you must hold to have the product lead manager position.
- Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, IT, or related field
- Experience in product lifecycle management
- Substantial experience as a Product Manager or similar role
- Background in software development and program management is preferred
- Familiarity with agile framework
If you hold the above qualification, you must go for it as product leaders’ average salary is $57.13 an hour, making it $118,828 annually. An intermediate product lead can earn anywhere from $86,000 to $163,000 a year.
So, it may be a challenging career path, but it is worth it. It is why most dedicated employees consider switching careers to product leads.
Best Tips for New Product Leads
If you have the required qualification for the product lead job and eyeing getting one, here’s a list of tips that can help you perform better at the interview and in your career.
Facilitate the Gray Area
It takes time to bring product owners and internal stakeholders together during the initial strategic planning process. Focus on informing, guiding, and exploring meaningful conversations with focus groups who are on the same page to create a new valuable product.
Guide the Product Plan with Iterative Releases
It may be true in all people management jobs, but it is especially true in the product leads career path. Always use an iterative approach to release the final product whenever possible. It will help you and the new managers know how to update and define the product roadmap.
Create Metrics and Measure Success
How will you measure your outcomes if you have not defined any metric? So, develop a list of criteria that will indicate the success of a product launch. Turn your measurements into a KPI dashboard and share it with your engineers and key stakeholders.
Take Continuous Feedback
Take continual feedback from various perspectives and provide your organization an opportunity to drive projects forward smoothly.
Get Creative with Beta
Define the objectives and outcomes of your beta as they relate to the entire product development process. For instance, a beta can revolve around effects like, are you working out bugs? Taking user feedback? Running influencer programs? Or measuring engagement? These questions will help you deeply understand customers and improve your public launch.
The other tips you can apply can be getting familiar with large companies, evaluating strategy and metrics, meeting new people at a large company, joining hands with line managers and key members, being responsible, and taking calculated risks when required.
Lead product managers are trustworthy and experienced professionals with a solid understanding of large companies’ launch. They not only develop new products and services but also take care of growth and distribution with extensive research.
With practical experience and working knowledge, a product lead also takes care of the client’s requirements, content creation, and brand promotion.
To succeed in this role, a product lead manager must be good at product management and possess project management and architecture proficiency. Product leads should also be good at soft skills like a leadership role, analytical skills, communication skills, and creativity when creating a product or service.
So, if you aspire to be one, your resume must showcase product management, project management, and architecture as your core skills.