Product Team

A product team is a cross-functional entity. Heading or leading the team is a project manager (PM) who oversees strategy and coordinates with various stakeholders, like marketing, sales, design, and engineering departments. The product team, as a whole, focuses on and measures success based on actual outcomes. Under the leadership of the product team lead, teams are responsible for solving problems that occur anywhere throughout their designated domain.

Product Team Overview

The product team is in charge of organizing workflows. Small companies might have a single product team that oversees the entire domain. For large companies, several product teams oversee different parts of a domain. And in these situations, product team leads work with one another to coordinate a unified strategy. But in the case of a company with more than one product or feature, like at Mixpanel, there are several product teams and a single PM is designated the lead over a team of department PMs. So, yes, even a team of PMs have a team lead to report to and receive direction from.

Not all product teams can be the same, obviously. The structure and the members on the team depends on what the product is. Here are two structures that are common in businesses today.

One product manager for each product or each feature

Under a product manager are the PMs for the departments responsible for the product, including marketing, sales, engineering, and customer support. 

Expert product managers

Some companies find value in appointing someone with expertise in a specific area to a product team. According to ProductPlan, a strategy-planning platform, “One model is to build a balanced product team consisting of a business product manager, a technical product manager, a design product manager, and a growth product manager.”

Unlike the one-PM-per-product structure, this type of product team focuses on issues related to the team’s skillset. But the team is still responsible for meeting product goals. 

What is the Structure of a Product Team

Not all product teams can be the same, obviously. The structure and the members on the team depends on what the product is. Here are two structures that are common in businesses today.

One product manager for each product or each feature

Under a product manager are the PMs for the departments responsible for the product, including marketing, sales, engineering, and customer support. 

Expert product managers

Some companies find value in appointing someone with expertise in a specific area to lead a product team. According to ProductPlan, a strategy-planning platform, “One model is to build a balanced product team consisting of a business product manager, a technical product manager, a design product manager, and a growth product manager.”

Unlike the one-PM-per-product structure, this type of product team focuses on issues related to the team’s skillset. But the team is still responsible for meeting product goals. 

Who is on a Product Team

Every business is going to structure product teams based on their own unique needs. But all companies start and then grow using a common blueprint. There’s a technical product manager who works with engineering, developers, and others who focus on technical infrastructure. He or she understands the tech at a deep level and can lead technical development strategy. A product design manager works on user experience and consumer applications. This is a position that coordinates the development of new products and improves existing ones. A growth product manager is data driven and concerned with short and long-term analytics, roadmaps, and business objectives. The business product manager oversees external customer issues and brings them to the right internal stakeholders. Finally, at the top is a project manager who is responsible for coordinating the product team’s overall strategy. 

What is Expected from a Product Team

According to Aha, “Product teams have many people to please, from senior stakeholders to their products’ end users. It requires empathy to understand everyone’s needs and recognize their contributions.” As an entity, the product team is responsible for making the high-level decisions it takes to realize the objectives of every department and ultimately to help actualize the company’s vision for the product.

Two words to sum up the goal of a product team are: strategic leadership.

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