In today’s world, many people are looking for a career that will give them the ability to work with product management. The platform product manager position is one of those careers.
Platform product managers are responsible for overseeing the development and management of software platforms, such as e-commerce stores. They also work to maintain an enjoyable experience by finding problems with usability or performance before they become a problem on the platform.
In this post, we’ll examine what it takes to be a platform product manager and what they do on a day-to-day basis.
What is a Platform Product Manager?
A platform product manager is someone who oversees the development and management of software platforms such as e-commerce stores. Great product managers also work to maintain an enjoyable experience by finding problems with usability or performance before they become a problem on the platform.
Platform Product Manager Roles and Responsibilities
In order to succeed in their product management role, a platform PM must be able to think critically about the customer experience. They also need strong analytical skills and are responsible for maintaining relationships with internal stakeholders and external partners.
In addition to having technical knowledge of how software works as well as being an excellent communicator, they’re required to know all aspects of development from design through deployment so that they can make informed decisions on what features need priority for a solid product strategy.
Let’s take a look at some of the everyday responsibilities of a platform product manager job:
1. Prioritizing and supporting the work of multiple consumer-facing products
Product managers are responsible for prioritizing and supporting the work of multiple consumer-facing products, which can be a challenge. Product management is largely an exercise in negotiation: the product manager has to constantly balance tradeoffs between user needs and business goals.
The platform product manager must know how to negotiate priorities with different stakeholders by understanding their perspective as well as knowing what’s good for the customer.
When it comes time to make decisions on what features need priority or who deserves more resources, they have strong analytical skills that allow them to assess various options available based on experience, knowledge of software engineering practices, empathy towards users’ challenges, etc.
2. Communicate with stakeholders to understand their needs and perspectives
The platform product manager must be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with stakeholders in order to get feedback on the software product, identify risks, prioritize work items, etc.
They’re typically technical experts who can translate complex software specifications for engineers or executives who may not have a coding background. They also need strong communications skills as they are often representing the company externally (in front of customers).
This is why it’s important that platform product managers go through an interview process so that hiring managers know what kind of person they’ll be getting before committing them to join the development team.
3. Work with external vendors to enable integrations via API
This means that they get the specifications for a potential integration and then communicate back and forth with the vendor until both parties are satisfied with the functionalities that have been agreed upon.
In order to ensure that everything is going smoothly, a platform product manager needs an understanding of how APIs function as well as experience in working through technical details like rate limits (the maximum number of calls allowed per unit time). A lot can go wrong if not enough attention is paid to these details so it’s important that this role be filled by someone who knows their way around them.
4. Work with engineering to improve and develop core platform features
This is a responsibility that can’t be overlooked. A platform product manager needs to have good communication skills and an understanding of the engineering process in order to work with them effectively and understand how their features will play into the larger goal for the company.
5. Monitor and manage key APIs
These are the APIs that can make or break a company’s reputation. Platform product managers need to be on top of these and understand their value in order to protect them from harm while maximizing their potential for success.
6. Check for bug reports and automated alerts
Platform product managers need to be the first ones on the scene when something goes wrong. They should monitor their monitoring tools and do whatever it takes to contain any problems before they get out of hand or are too hard for engineering to fix.
This usually includes having the ability to push patches and updates through, as well as using other technical skills such as troubleshooting.
7. Review performance dashboards
In order to be a successful platform product manager, there are many PM metrics that they need to monitor. Platform product managers should review these at least once per day as well as any other significant updates and changes in performance numbers (such as the number of users or revenue generated from a new product).
8. Review priorities for the sprint
Each sprint there are usually a fixed number of priorities that the platform team needs to address. Platform product managers should understand these key priorities and be able to review them at any time during the process.
9. Analyze feedback from internal platform users
Feedback from users and other stakeholders is a valuable resource. Platform product managers should analyze this feedback at least once per week to see if there are any recurring themes or potential improvements that can be made.
Platform Product Manager Skills
Platform product managers are essentially product strategists and they have a good understanding of product development and software engineering in order to work on development projects. This includes being able to read through code and understand how the components are connected, as well as understanding what is needed for maintenance or enhancement. Previous experience with software engineers will be helpful but not always required.
Platform product managers can gain many important skills by joining a PM bootcamp or taking a product management certification program. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the abilities a platform product manager should have:
1. Understand the need of end-users
A platform product manager needs to be able to understand what the end-user is looking for and how their current experience could be improved. Doing this is important for delivering the best possible product to market.
Understanding how different demographics interact with a platform in order to find insights and patterns is also important for creating an engaging experience that appeals to everyone.
2. Prioritization skills
A platform product manager needs to be able to prioritize the work with stakeholders and team members. This means knowing what work is important for demanding deadlines, which can then shift over time depending on the progress of other parts of a project.
Prioritization skills also come into play when deciding between features or enhancements that would improve user experience vs those that have a lower priority based on their complexity or potential impact.
This skill set is useful because it requires an understanding of how each task relates to others in order to prioritize and focus efforts where they will do the most good.
3. Solid interpersonal skills
People skills are a vital part of being an effective product manager and they come in handy when you’re managing stakeholders, team members, or even the sales cycle. Platform product managers need to be comfortable with conflict management as well as working across teams and collaborating for success.
It’s also important that platform product managers have excellent communication skills because they must translate complicated ideas into understandably simple messages to ensure everyone is on board with their vision.
They should know how best to deliver difficult news while handling negative feedback professionally without taking it personally. Creating a plan for delivering messages so people can understand them is another example of strong interpersonal skills in action.
4. Knowledge of technical communication systems
Platform Product Managers need to be experts in communicating technical information.
This means they must understand the intricacies of communication systems like email when designing how best to deliver messages across their organization. They should also have a firm grasp on written communications with clear, concise writing that may require some planning for time management purposes as well as understanding what it takes to communicate effectively by phone or video call.
5. Ability to manage long-term product roadmaps
Platform Product Managers will be responsible for managing a product roadmap and ensuring that it aligns with the organization’s strategy.
This can involve making sure their team understands the strategic goals of the company, while also assessing customer needs to decide what features are most important in order to best serve them.
If they have limited resources available, platform product managers may need to find ways to prioritize certain items on their roadmap so as not to meet too many objectives simultaneously or run out of time towards achieving them all.
Planning for this type of scenario is just one example where strong organizational skills come into play as well.
6. Business knowledge
In addition to having an understanding of technical aspects, platform product managers should also have a strong grasp on business concepts such as how they relate back to the company’s larger goals and objectives. Building relationships with stakeholders who can help them define these broader requirements is key for success here.
How to become a Platform Product Manager
A platform product manager can typically be found in a company’s marketing, engineering team or business development departments. The path to becoming one is not specific and differs from individual to individual.
A product management education background will be useful. Some have degrees focused on computer science while others may have an MBA with experience working as engineers or marketers in the technology industry.
There are also those who start out their careers by holding positions such as project managers before moving up into more powerful roles like that of a platform product manager when they gain enough knowledge about how these projects work.
One way to get started down this career path would be through getting involved with open source software initiatives at startups which provide plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning firsthand, but it takes great initiative and tenacity to make this happen without any contacts in the field.
Platform Product Manager Average Salary
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a principal product manager is between $120,000 and $141,000 in the U.S.
Is the Platform Product Manager Career Path The Right Option For You?
Platform product managers do not usually have a very linear career path. This is because positions at this level often require different skills and expertise that come from many years of experience in the industry, which might mean working on multiple projects concurrently or jumping right into an advanced position like chief technology officer (CTO).
That said, starting a career as a platform project management is not an uncommon thing to do. There are many things that a platform product manager can learn on the job, and it is also possible for them to gain skills in other areas such as business development or marketing.
So, if you think you have what it takes, the platform product management career path might be a good option for you.