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→ People and Roles
Define a Feature
You know that phrase, "All roads lead to Rome", well in the product all roads lead back to the team. The team culture, skillset, communication style are indicators for that software company to produce a valuable product.
Your ability to be good at building and improving a product depends on your ability to communicate with others. By using processes that standardise how to share context, goals, strategies, and solutions with others you can reduce the mental burden of communication and make it easier for everyone as a team to work together more productively.
This handbook is a guide to a product development process, but ultimately the process is a tool that you can use to facilitate conversation. In product development, the part that requires the most consideration is how to communicate with people.
With everything that competes for your attention, what you focus your energy on and how you talk about that with your team impact your ability to solve problems. Your product's value is the sum of all the problems that it solves and your role is to be a problem solver.
What roles make up a product team?
Product delivery teams can be made up of one person or 50 people. If the team-size is one, then that one person does everything - all of the roles. If the team size is larger, there may be many people delivering one role. Teams need to be built with people with different strengths and they usually will encompass a well-rounded skill set to build on each other's strengths.
Typically, if there is a role missing within the team, the product manager normally steps up to fill the gap. Product management, and product delivery, are cross-departmental. Product managers take inputs from every part of the organisation and process the insights to drive the strategy of the product. Product teams are a combination of all the people who help deliver the product.
A strong product delivery team have a combination of these roles:
- Product Manager
Product leaders hold the product strategy. These roles usually look like Product Manager, Product Lead, Head of Product, or Chief Product Officer. Product leadership is responsible for the product roadmap, prioritisation, decision making, and process. Product managers are different than a product owner. Product owners work more in the fine details compared to a product manager that works more in the strategy. Product managers also usually are not managers in the traditional sense - they do not directly manage people, instead they manage the product itself.
- UX Designer
User experience (UX) designers hold responsibility for making sure that the customers of your product have the best experience possible. The UX designer might not do any graphic design or interface design because in some cases the best design might not involve a clickable interface.
- UI Designer
User interface (UI) designers are responsible for designing the pages, screens, or interfaces that a person can click through or interact with.
Researchers are the people who manage all of the data collection and usability testing of the product. Researchers tend to work along-side UX Designers to validate assumptions.
- Business Development
Business development managers are responsible for the business model and driving sales and business strategy to meet the organisations objective. This part of the product team is responsible for financial forecasting and other communication with wider stakeholders.
- Tech Lead
Tech leads are the key tech people who have responsibility for setting technical direction and holding the long term picture for the tech in mind. There is also an expectation that a tech lead has more responsibility for communication, strategy, reporting and teaching than other developers.
- Software developer
The actual builder of the software. Software developers are responsible for building the product and communicating status and work in progress. They are also responsible for any technical aspect required for launching and maintaining the product.
Marketing managers set the tone and voice of the product and customer-facing messaging. They manage campaigns, newsletters, marketing websites, and more. The marketing person is responsible for driving growth and customer acquisition.
- Customer Support
When customers have questions or need help, these are the people who manage the communication and follow up to provide the best and low-stress experience for your customers. They are usually the first point of contact for incoming communication.
Other important roles: