This short study is intended to offer some observations about how the role of the product manager is perceived across the charity sector. It is not in anyway to criticise the job descriptions used by charities in advertising these roles as the best job descriptions are surely those that accurately describe the job. The intention here is to consider whether, and if anything what, the job descriptions might be able to tell us about what charities expect from product managers.
Twenty three charity sector product roles advertised in May and June 2022 were included in the study. All of the job ads were used to create a list of thirty three characteristics, and then each job analysed against the list.
All of the role descriptions fitted within the generally accepted role that product management plays within an organisation, that of bringing together user needs, organisational goals and using technology to achieve them.
Within the roles there is variety about the purpose of the role. Some were more focused on managing technology to achieve organisational goals with little mention of user needs, whilst others were focused on organisational goals (even if these weren’t defined in the job ad) with little mention of the technologies. Understanding user problems and meeting user needs was the least mentioned. Perhaps this results from an assumption that the organisation already understands its user’s needs and intends to improve how they are meet through technology, or because the concept of being user-centred hasn’t been adopted.
All of the roles, even the senior and ‘head of’ level, were very focused on delivery. There was very little mention of developing business models, validating market assumptions, or other strategic product work. This may suggest that, whilst charities are adopting more technology and recognising the need to manage it, they are still yet to adopt more contemporary digital approaches and product thinking.
What product management roles are called
Different role titles used in the job ads.
- For 23 roles there were 14 unique job titles, 19 if those titles include the product in brackets, e.g. (CRM)
- 47.83% roles had unique titles, including Head of Product Management, Head of Product Delivery, Lead Digital Product Manager, Senior Product Development Lead, Senior Digital Product Manager, Senior Product Development Officer, Senior Product Development Lead, Innovation and Product Development Manager, Web Product Manager, Digital Product Owner and Junior Product Manager
- 21.74% of the roles had the job title Product Manager
- 13.04% used the title Digital Product Managers
- 8.70% were called Product Owners
How much product managers are paid
Salaries of product management roles specified in the job ads.
- The average salary is £45,976.45, from twenty two of the roles as one did not specify the salary
- The lowest salary mentioned was £27,000 and the highest was £83,000
- Of the two ‘Head of’ level roles the salary ranged from £48,231 to £83,000
- Senior level roles averaged £44,300
- Individual contributor roles averaged £45,865
What product managers work on
Different types of products the job ads suggest product managers will work on.
- 91.30% of product managers would work on existing products
- 34.78% would be working on building new products
- 65.22% would work on external facing products
- 26.09% working on internal products
- 52.17% of the ads mention an outcome or goal the product manager would be aiming to achieve with the product
How product managers work
Working practices mentioned in the job ads.
- 52.17% of the roles ask the product manager to be user-centric, to understand user needs, but only 26.09% would be involved in user research
- 52.17% would be expected to monitor the performance of the product
- 39.13% would use continuous improvement and iterative development
- 30.43% mention using agile practices
What product managers are responsible for
Aspects of managing a product that the product manager would have responsibility for.
- 86.96% would be managing stakeholder relationships
- 60.87% would be managing supplier relationships
- 52.17% would be responsible for managing projects
- 34.78% had line management responsibility. Two heads of product, three senior product managers and three product managers
- 34.78% would be responsible for managing the budget for the product
- 30.43% would be responsible for product strategy
- 26.09% would manage the product roadmap
- 26.09% would be responsible for prioritising work on the product
- 17.39% would be responsible for product vision
What skills do product managers need
Skills and characteristics mentioned in the job ads.
- 65.22% would need communication skills
- 34.78% would be to be analytical
- 26.09% need to be able to cope in a fast-paced and rapidly changing environment
- 26.09% need influencing skills
- 13.04% would need a growth mindset to succeed
- 13.04% need negotiating skills
- 8.70% need facilitation skills
- 8.70% need to be creative
- One role required the candidate to have a PhD in biology and others required particular specialist knowledge relating to the business model for the product, e.g., licensing