From the stand point of a product manager (PM) the most important role of a product is as a tool to learn about market, customers, and users. You can read all industry news, discuss mock-ups with the stakeholders all day, and conduct as many user testing sessions as you want, but you'll still get real and trustworthy feedback only when you release the product into the hands of real customers and users who are trying to solve real problems with the tool you've built. It has turned out time and again that capability of customers, users, and other stakeholders, but also of the product manager, to imagine constraints and potential of a product in advance is very very limited. Only when people lay their hands on the hammer they start seeing nails and feeling its weight.
But it's not sufficient for the PM alone to determine whether a requested and developed user story met, exceeded, or missed the expected results. It is of equal importance for the PM to inform all the stakeholders of the product about the results of his or hers post-release analysis acquired through interviews with customers, user testing, and data analysis. Providing feedback not only makes the whole organization smarter, but also builds trust between the PM and the stakeholders which is essential ingredient of PM's success. The PM should put special emphasis on providing feedback to engineering team on impact of their work and the bigger picture of their efforts. They are PM's hands and legs while the PM should be their eyes and ears.
This is part of series of posts on product manager's responsibilities as we see them at Zemanta.