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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/senior-product-manager-skills-they-need/senior-product-manager-skills-they-need
This content is part of the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) Capability Framework which describes the DDaT roles in government and the skills needed to do them.
1. What a senior product manager does
Senior product managers manage multiple products or a single product that is especially complex, high risk or sensitive. They may line manage associate product managers and product managers. They have expert product management skills.
They may be involved in elements of programme management activity. They are involved in hiring associates, product managers and contractors.
2. What skills they need
A senior product manager needs specific technical skills.
All roles have essential skills, and some have desirable skills.
Each skill has one of 4 skill levels associated with it:
2.1 Essential skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|Agile working||Is aware of and understands agile methodology and how to apply the agile mindset to all aspects of their work. Has the ability to work in a fast paced, evolving environment and utilises an iterative method and flexible approach to enable rapid delivery. Unafraid to take risks, willing to learn from mistakes and appreciates the importance of agile project delivery for digital projects in government. Able to ensure the team has a situational awareness of what each other is working on and how this relates to practical government objectives and user needs.||Expert||Coaches and leads teams in Agile and Lean practices, determining the right approach for the team to take and evaluating this through the life of a project. Is able to think of new and innovative ways of working to achieve the right outcomes. Is able to act as a recognised expert and advocates for the approaches, continuously reflecting and challenging the team.|
|Lifecyle perspective||Understands the different phases of product delivery and is able to contribute to, plan or run these. Able to maintain a product or process through the delivery phases, through to live and into retirement. Able to lead a team through the different phases of the delivery lifecycle. Can maintain and iterate a product over time to continuously meet user needs. Understands and is aware of incident management and service support so that products are built effectively.||Expert||Able to successfully lead teams through the full product lifecycle. Able to identify which tools and techniques should be used at each stage. Able to develop sustainable support models. Able to identify and deal with potential risks across or between all phases of the lifecycle. Able to coach others. Able to contribute to the assessment of other teams, providing guidance and support as they move through the lifecycle phases.|
|Operational management||Able to manage the operational process of designing and running a product or service throughout its entire life-cycle. Able to implement best practice in new product or service development and knows how to plan and operationalise the stages of new product or service development. Able to overcome operational constraints to deliver a successful product or service. Works closely with other operational delivery teams.||Expert||Keeps abreast of industry best practice and cascades ways of working. Knows how to make operations efficient. Is the escalation point for major operational issues and champions operational management across the community. Works closely with leaders of operational delivery teams in DDaT.|
|Problem ownership||Understands and identifies problems, analysing and helping to identify the appropriate solution. Is able to classify and prioritise problems, document their causes and implement remedies.||Expert||Is able to anticipate problems and knows how to defend against them at the right time. Understands how the problem fits into the larger picture. Is able to articulate the problem and helps others to articulate the problem. Builds problem-solving capabilities in others.|
|Product ownership||Uses a range of product management principles and approaches. Captures and translates user needs into deliverables. Able to define the minimum viable product and make decisions about priorities. Writes stories and acceptance criteria. Capable of working with a range of specialists in multidisciplinary teams.||Expert||Capable of starting to define and create approaches. Able to coach others. Able to implement new ways of working. Is aware of what other sectors are doing. Understands what is most important and applicable.|
|Strategic ownership||Focuses on outcomes, not solutions. Is bold - develops ambitious visions and strategies. Gets the organisation and team to buy-in. Translates the vision into prioritised deliverable goals.||Practitioner||Able to get buy-in from the organisation. Able to work with scant information and to articulate that in abstract terms. Able to come up with a strategy.|
|User focus||Understands users and can identify who they are and what their needs are based on evidence. Able to translate user stories and propose design approaches or services to meet these needs and engage in meaningful interactions and relationships with users. Puts users first and can manage competing priorities.||Expert||Gives direction on which tools and methods to use. Is experienced in meeting the needs of users across a variety of channels. Able to bring insight and expertise in how user needs have changed over time to ensure these are met by the business. Applies strategic thinking in how to provide the best service for the end user.|
2.2 Desirable skills
|Skill||Description of the skill||Skill level||What the skill level means|
|DDaT perspective||Demonstrates an understanding of user-centered design, technology and data perspectives. Understands the range of available technology choices and makes informed decisions based on user need and value for money. Understands the variety and complexities of digital contexts and designs services to meet them. Has knowledge of the wider digital economy and advances in technology.||Practitioner||Able to demonstrate an advanced understanding of design, technology and data principles. Able to identify and implement solutions for assisted digital. Able to apply knowledge to work with other job families.|
|Financial ownership||Able to secure funding for agile delivery through a business case and through delivering a good pitch in government. Capable of prioritising spending based on return on investment (ROI) and strategic intent; this may include contract ownership and accountability for realisation of benefits.||Practitioner||Understands the market place, realising the benefit and persuading others that a product is the right one to use. Able to integrate a product with other services. Capable of ensuring products get used. Able to realise benefits by linking work in progress back to the business case. Able to build business cases based on user needs.|
|Understanding constraints||Able to understand and work within the given constraints (including but not limited to technology, policy, regulatory, financial, legal, social user constraints) and to challenge constraints that can be changed. Capable of ensuring compliance against constraints by adapting products and services where needed.||Practitioner||Works with and challenges senior stakeholders. Can prioritise and mitigate constraints, and can turn them into an advantage. Is able to adapt the approach depending on the constraints.|
3. Civil Service Success Profiles Framework
The Civil Service uses The Success Profiles Framework to assess candidates during recruitment.
It is a flexible framework, used to assess a range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles.
Find out more about Success Profiles.
4. Other roles in product management
There are 4 other role levels in product management: