Building a Winner: The Anatomy of a Successful Product Team

There is a saying that has made rounds in many different arenas and many different industries. It generally goes something like, You are only as good as your last…, and you can fill in the blank.

“You’re only as good as your last pass.” – Brett Favre

“You’re only as good as your last picture.” – Marie Dressler

“You’re only as good as your last story.” – Helen Thomas

Okay, you see where this is going. This saying has been applied to virtually everything under the sun, from business to haircuts (seriously, accredited to Fran Lebowitz). That subtle truth may be nowhere more evident than in the world of product development – and it may not be so subtle.

Ever notice how there are seemingly new and improved startups daily In the world of technology? That means in order to keep up, stay ahead and succeed, the work never stops.

To be done at a high-level requires a top-notch team of product experts.

Each role is vital, all the working parts are intertwined and having the best talent for each step of the process is essential. Here is a quick look at what each role looks like and why the right talent will result producing those amazing products customers demand.

The Designer Role

Here is the team’s architect, this is the person who will design the visual elements the customers will interact with in your product. What it will look like, the functional structure and other aspects will be designed by this role. The responsibility of implementing the designs and the operational constructs is then given to the product manager and developers.

It is important for designers to be able to see the big-picture but also be laser focused on the details. They will continually focus on product usability and engagement throughout their design process. After they have shown the team what is being built and what it is supposed to do, the next step begins.

The Front-end Developer Role

This group is largely responsible for the UX aspects of the product. These folks are the ones who will implement those user features and user experience considerations. Customer-focused and attention to detail are great traits for front-end developers for those aforementioned reasons. They are also versatile and familiar with such tools like Javascript, HTML and CSS to name a few. They have the task of tying the back-end to the design.

Speaking of back-end…

The Back-end Developer Role

Using languages like Cloud configuration, S3, MySQL and API are just part of the job description for back-end developers who act somewhat like gatekeepers in this role. These languages used to connect the frontend the database will directly translate into the level of product performance and data performance. Having experience in application scalability and elasticity, and foresight is useful for back-end developers as they must always be mindful of future product development.

The Product Manager (Visionary) Role

Managing the feature set(s) and development of the product, that is the simple definition of the product manager. The reality is, there is nothing simple about this position. Not only will product managers be involved on some level in every step of development, they must also understand the business, technology and the user. Some of those responsibilities will look like the following:

  • Writing copy
  • User Research
  • Product Roadmapping
  • Pricing strategy
  • Team cohesion

Product managers need to be good diplomats, every department feels a certain ownership and investment in the product. They should be able to talk (and understand) technology and know customers. Time management and delegation skills in this role are not optional.

The role of product visionary is often assumed to belong to the product manager but arguably the role of designer or founder can also fill this job. Almost by default, the product manager is a visionary as they handle the big picture for the product, so delegating some of that extra lifting elsewhere isn’t uncommon.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Predicting the future requires vision. Creating the future demands putting together a kick-ass product team – success is dependent upon it.

What are some other vital product team roles? Did I forget anything?

Building a Winner: The Anatomy of a Successful Product Team