The product management guide

Aha! helps product managers get their mojo back

What makes up the product team?

The basis of every great product is the team that builds it -- and that team is naturally cross-functional. Releasing products and new functionality demands several diverse perspectives. A typical product team is led by the product manager, and includes leaders from engineering; program management; sales; support; operations; and marketing.

The product team plays a crucial organizational role within a company. This team is responsible for implementing strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for that product or product line.

Product teams may also be tasked with marketing, forecasting, and profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities. Finally, market and competitive analysis is a skill that product teams should possess. This skill is essential to implement a unique product vision that delivers customer-driven value.

The role of product teams spans many activities, from strategic to tactical. At their best, product teams provide cross-functional leadership. The product team unites diverse teams inside their company. Most notably, the best product teams inspire other teams -- such as engineering and marketing -- to work towards achieving a shared product vision. This requires product teams to own their product vision and share it with stakeholders across their organizations.

Think of a product team as their product’s c-suite. To plan and release a successful product, this team will not work in a vacuum. Rather, they will rely on diverse teams throughout their organization.

For example, they will work with Sales to learn more about market penetration; Marketing to learn how they can reach customers; Engineering to build their end product; and c-suite stakeholders to make sure their product achieves high level business objectives.

Product teams have many people to please, from senior stakeholders to their products’ end users. This requires empathy to understand everyone’s needs and recognize their contributions. However, this can be paralyzing without the right leadership. Although product teams must acknowledge all perspectives, they cannot shy away from strategic leadership. Ultimately, the product team is responsible for making high-level decisions regarding their products.

As such, it is important that product teams lead with conviction by understanding and interacting with their product’s end users. This offers a strong sense of what users want, and serves as the basis for a product's strategic vision. Product teams can become overly reliant on hearsay from other departments. But every department has its own unique goals and objectives -- and their priorities for a product might not align with that product's strategic vision.

Although these departments have stake in a particular product, the product team must know which insights will achieve that product’s strategic vision. This sense of ownership is essential to offer customer delight at every turn.

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