What Is a Group Product Manager?
A group product manager (GPM) is a product leader who manages the product team responsible for a particular group of products. Notably, this role is described as a player/coach role. A GPM brings together the aspects of being an individual contributor and those of managing and developing people.
What’s the Difference Between a Product Manager vs. a Group Product Manager?
A product manager (PM) sets the long-term vision and strategy for a product or service. Then they communicate this strategy to all relevant participants and stakeholders. While PMs manage projects or tasks related to product management, they typically don’t manage people.
A GPM, however, is on a people-management track and balances individual contributions to product development with people management and development. GPMs are responsible for leading and managing a product team from product concept to launch.
Typically a GPM starts as a product manager who moves up the PM ranks and has a deep desire to manage people. As a result, GPMs often become Head of Product, Director of Product Management, or VP of Product.
What Are the Key Responsibilities of a GPM?
Primary responsibilities for this hybrid product management role typically include:
- Developing strong relationships with prospects and vendors
- Collaborating with internal teams on competitive positioning and market development
- Conducting user surveys and focus groups
- Creating Product Requirement Documents, Market Requirement Documents, and Business Requirement Documents
- Taking product enhancements or new product launches from start to finish
- Mentoring junior members of the product team
- Motivating and coaching the product team to reach goals and achieve deliverables
What Skills Are Important for GPM Success?
A GPM typically has a significant amount of product management experience, a solid track record as a PM, and an inherent desire to manage both products and people.
On the Exponent blog, tech writer Anthony Pellegrino explains:
“Not every PM may be fit for becoming Group Product Managers, for a few reasons. Chief among them is their ability to manage others. In a sense, becoming a GPM is when the job shifts from primarily managing people rather than product tasks or processes. This is not something that everyone is capable of doing effectively. For instance, the PMs best suited for a Group Product Manager position would be those with the additional soft skills necessary for inspiring and effective leadership, along with those who are willing to leave some of the individual contribution responsibilities behind.”
Because a GPM manages people, skills like effective communication and clear leadership are key drivers of success in the role. An effective GPM will have an unwavering, bottomless enthusiasm for developing skills and experience in other people. Also, of course, to developing great products. When success comes, a top-notch GPM readily shares the limelight with the rest of the team.