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Communications of the ACM


Evolution of the Product Manager

Product Manager: What my colleagues think I do

Credit: Catherine Constantinides /

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Software practitioners know product management is a key piece of software development. Product managers talk to users to help figure out what to build, define requirements, and write functional specifications. They work closely with engineers throughout the process of building software. They serve as a sounding board for ideas, help balance the schedule when technical challenges occur—and push back to executive teams when technical revisions are needed. Product managers are involved from before the first code is written, until after it goes out the door.

Due to this close relationship, it is often aligned with the engineering teams. At Microsoft, for example, it is considered to be part of the core software-engineering organization (note, Microsoft uses the term "program manager" to refer to the responsibilities called "product management" in this document).10 At Google, a computer science/computer engineering (CS/CE) degree is required to apply for an associate product management (APM) role.6


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