PM's responsibility #7: Communicate /w Stakeholders

In many ways, a product manager (PM) is the focal point of an organization. He or she is in constant touch with sales, marketing, engineering, support, C-level executives, and, of course, external customers and end users. While the central role of the PM is to listen, he or she is also responsible to present what he or she has heard to all these stakeholders. First in the form of the product roadmap, but ultimately through product, as what gets built and what not is the ultimate indicator to all the stakeholders if their input was heard and incorporated.

It's best when the product directly communicates the value it brings to the stakeholder. Unfortunately, that's rarely the case and it is therefore the role of the PM to help all the people involved understand the value the product delivers. In the case of internal stakeholders that means staging internal presentations, crafting release emails, creating training materials and doing many other activities to show internal stakeholders that their input was considered and that the product is being built in such way to support their efforts and company's goals. What's almost equally important in the case of internal stakeholders is to explain why particular input wasn't observed and help the affected stakeholder solve his or her problems in some other way. That's especially important in case of stakeholders in position of power, who can make the PM's job very miserable if they decide to wield their power. Communicating with external stakeholders requires even more sophisticated knowledge and empathy, so it's best that the PM communicates with external customers and users by employing marketing specialists to create appropriate marketing materials such as case studies and web pages, or engage with target audience through content marketing.

This is part of series of posts on product manager's responsibilities as we see them at Zemanta.