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Product managers are the generals in your organization’s army. They’re responsible for the overall success or failure of individual initiatives, and they bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the table.

Not only do they need to be able to make sure a project stays on track and meets its objectives, they need to have the perspective to set those objectives in the first place and make sure they align with your organization’s business goals. In fact, a good way to think of a product manager’s job is translating abstract business goals (for example, “increase retention by 10%”) into concrete products and features (for example, a loyalty program).

Not only that, they also have to be able to see those products and features through to completion. That means they need a combination of superior organizational skills and what we sometimes think of as soft-skills, like communication, empathy, and leadership.

Product managers are a critical part of your organization’s success, and a good product manager can mean the difference between a high-quality product that’s delivered on-time and within budget and one that drags on forever or completely falls apart. In this post, we’ll look at what a good product manager can do for your organization, and give you a solid framework for writing a job post that will attract the right kind of product manager for your needs.

What Does a Product Manager Do, Exactly?

No child grows up dreaming of becoming a product manager. So where do they come from, and what’s their purpose in an organization? More so than most, product managers can take unusual and sometimes circuitous paths to their jobs. That’s because product management sits at the intersection between at least three different disciplines: engineering, business, and user experience. We can look at each of those as we walk through some of a product manager’s specific responsibilities.

Product managers work with leadership to identify business goals. From there, the product manager defines the problem they’re trying to solve (e.g. how do we drive more app installs?). Next, the product manager must define product requirements that can solve that problem in a cost-efficient, technically feasible way. This phase of the job involves gathering data, lots of it, from market research, user testing, analytics, interviews, and more. From there, the product manager consults with their developers and leaderships to build a product roadmap that allows for ideation, iteration, and testing.

And that’s all before the UX designers or developers get to work. Once that starts, the work of the product manager changes dramatically. During the development cycle, they’re responsible for the day-to-day pace of work, making sure things remain on schedule, solving problems as they arise, and avoiding scope creep. Successful product management requires exceptional focus and communication skills more so than technical ability. That said, even if they’re not coders or designers this part of the job requires a product manager to have enough familiarity with each discipline to be able to translate the needs of their team members between one another and to leadership.

Defining Your Product Management Needs

Your main consideration when engaging a product manager should be finding someone who has experience with the kind of product you want to build. A product manager with tons of experience handling highly technical backend optimization products will have a slightly different skillset than someone who loves building user-facing mobile apps.

Beyond that, you should also be clear about what you need from your product manager. Obviously, the best time to bring in a product manager is before you’ve even started work on a product, but that may not always be the case. Like a good product manager, your first step is defining your requirements. Try making a list of what you need most: Is it someone who can help define the scope of the product itself? Someone with experience in agile development and iterative design? Someone who can jump in and do some coding or UX design if a project is falling behind schedule?

Writing a Product Manager Project Description

Once you have a solid idea of what you’re looking for in a product manager, you’re ready to write a job post. The quality of your post can have a significant impact on time-to-hire and the quality of interested talent, so it’s worth investing some time and thought into crafting a compelling, detailed post. Add as much detail as you’re able to. This is where you should say if you’re looking for someone to manage consumer-facing features for web and mobile apps or someone to build high-quality backend reporting tools.

Include a clear description of what they’ll do for the project and what teams or functions they’ll be working most closely with, mention whatever product management or communication tools your team prefers, what availability you expect of them, and, of course, your budget. The key here is to give ample context so that you can get a meaningful proposal from an interested project manager.

Will they have a set amount of things to tackle daily or weekly, or will they need to carve out some specific hours for you? In other words, is there an inbox full of emails they need to respond to each day, or do they need to be on-hand to answer messages in real time?

Sample Project Overview

Sample Project Overview

Below we’ve put together a sample of how a project description might look. Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed if you’re looking for an employee. If you think you might want an employee, check out Upwork Payroll. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work.

Title: Product Management for building Mobile App for E-Commerce

Description: We are a mid-sized e-retailer building our first mobile app for Android and need project management expertise. The scope of the project includes conducting market research and user testing to help us define what features we need to include and coordinate with a team of 5 engineers and designers from prototyping through bug testing.

Scope and Timeline: Our goal is to have v1 of our app ready in time for the holiday season. Please provide an estimate.

About Us: We’re a mid-sized and growing e-retailer based in San Jose, California.

Looking for more resources? Find out how to create an effective product requirements document.