Taking Farmers to Markets Service Delivery Handbook

Product manager

The product manager leads the multi-disciplinary team to deliver a product or service that meets users' needs.

The product manager plays a leading role in:

  • setting the vision and roadmap for the product
  • working with the product's stakeholders
  • prioriting the backlog and what gets done in a sprint
  • ensuring user stories are completed to a high quality

The product manager works closely with the delivery manager. This makes sure the team are working to achievable goals and are on track to deliver.

# Setting the vision and roadmap

It's the role of the product manager to define the vision for the product and communicate it with the team and stakeholders.

A good product vision aligns to both the user needs you've identified and the organisation's priorities.

The vision is often the end goal for a product roadmap that explains what features and milestones will be achieved along the way.

It's common for the vision and roadmap to be iterated over time, based on what the team learns from users and delivery.

# Working with stakeholders

The product manager is often the primary 'face' of the team to stakeholders inside and outside the department, like colleagues in operational areas or external industry groups.

By hearing the priorities of different stakeholders, the product manager can make informed decisions about the work to prioritise.

Stakeholders can be great advocates for the product and the team, and often give helpful feedback on features.

Stakeholder feedback is helpful, but it's not a substitute for good user research. You'll hear different perspectives from both.

# Prioritising the backlog

The product manager is responsible for the backlog, and gets the final say on which user stories are or aren't included in a sprint.

They are responsible for making sure that user stories have the right level of detail and clear acceptance criteria before they are prioritised.

In prioritising the backlog, the product manager has to balance:

  • delivering new features
  • making improvements to existing features
  • fixing bugs and issues
  • addressing technical debt.

# Accepting stories when they're done

The product manager plays an important role at the end of the process, by 'accepting' user stories as they are completed by the team.

The requirements for a story, called the 'acceptance criteria', should be defined before the work begins.

Accepting a user story means checking that the work has been completed to an acceptable level of quality.

This sometimes includes:

  • checking if a feature has been released into the production environment
  • confirming that a fix has correctly addressed the issue
  • looking at analytics to understand if a new feature is meeting the user need.