There are two types of SaaS product managers: technical and non-technical. The type will depend on your SaaS product company and how it operates, but both roles require the same skillset. And SaaS companies who use scrum/agile will lean to a more hands-on SaaS product manager with an engineering background – this is typically the case for companies like Intercom and Segment.
Product features are a SaaS company’s application or suite of applications. SaaS product managers work closely with SaaS developers and SaaS designers to ensure a SaaS product will have the maximum impact on its users and their business.
Product managers come from a variety of backgrounds, the most common being the SaaS industry itself. SaaS companies may be more inclined to promote from within versus hiring outside of the company. This is because SaaS product managers often have intimate knowledge of how SaaS products work and can more easily bring new members of their team up to speed on SaaS best practices and policies. The other type of SaaS product manager comes from a technical or business background where they were involved in SaaS either on a customer-side or vendor-side.
Buffer is a SaaS product manager role that requires a lot of vision and leadership – their 3 SaaS product managers all have marketing backgrounds.
Here’s what those SaaS product manager roles look like:
1.) Technical SaaS Product Manager (SaaS PM) –
Sometimes referred to as SaaS product engineer, SaaS product owner, SaaS development manager, SaaS lead developer – this SaaS product manager role is focused on what can be built and how it can be built. The SaaS PM will work closely with the engineering team to ensure that both the technical and business requirements are being met. This SaaS product manager role is likely to have a strong background in technology.
2.) Non-Technical SaaS Product Manager –
Sometimes also referred to as SaaS product marketing manager or SaaS management – this SaaS pm role works with the non-technical groups of a company (sales, customer service…) to prioritize what gets built first based on business needs and which features will provide the most value for customers.
3.) SaaS product owner –
This SaaS pm role will also be non-technical but has the unique responsibility of making sure that engineering’s work is aligned with business strategy. It’s a SaaS product manager / SaaS product owner job to make sure that what SaaS engineering delivers makes sense for your customers, users and business overall.
4.) SaaS project manager –
While not a SaaS product management role specifically, this SaaS pm works with engineers to define deadlines, schedules and milestones for products & projects. They also need to ensure that all scrum product backlog requests are getting completed on time. This SaaS project manager is responsible for keeping teams on track throughout the entire development period (which can be months or even years).
5.) SaaSa consultant –
This unique sa pm position is typically seen at SaaS startups with a consulting business model where SaaS product management consults SaaS clients in the beginning stages of their SaaS journey. This SaaSa consultant role may be part-time or full-time depending on the company’s needs and overall level of inbound SaaSa consulting opportunities.
6.) SaaS head of marketing –
In many ways, this is a classic SaaS pm position that works directly with SaaS sales to understand customer pain points, market trends, consumer expectations and other factors driving change across industries where SaaS companies operate. A key responsibility here is communicating these industry changes to internal teams so that they can build solutions that appeal to both existing customers & prospects.
7.) sa project manager / SaaS development manager –
SaaS developers are the heart of SaaS companies, and this is a key SaaS pm position. The SaaS development manager works with SaaS product managers to understand customer needs & expectations, then oversees SaaS engineering teams building solutions that meet those needs. A SaaS developer knows how important it is for SaaS products to be flexible enough to evolve quickly in response to market changes, so they’re aggressively building software solutions that can be easily updated without disrupting front-line operations or internal team collaboration.
8.) SaaS project scoping coordinator –
Here’s an example of what can be done when high-level requirements are assigned through managerial discretion rather than via consulting contracts. SaaS project scoping coordinators have a great deal of experience in SaaS product management and SaaS software development, so they can work with SaaS developers to design a SaaS solution that’s both cost-effective and architecturally sound.
9.) SaaS business analyst –
SaaS business analysts are industry professionals who help SaaS companies meet the challenges of today’s competitive marketplace by resolving problems & researching market trends. Some SaaS business analysts hold bachelor degrees in SaaS development or related fields; however, many develop their job skills through on-the-job training. Although it isn’t required, many employers prefer candidates that have earned professional certification (i.e., PMP).
10.) SaaS consultant –
Before an effective SaaS solution can be designed, SaaS architects must first investigate the business needs of SaaS companies. SaaS consultants not only conduct these investigations but also collaborate with SaaS architects to create actionable plans for optimizing existing infrastructure.
11.) SaaS project manager –
SaaS project managers are responsible for overseeing all of the key SaaS project milestones so that they come in on budget and on time.
12.) SaaS business analyst –
SaaS business analysts are industry professionals who help SaaS companies meet the challenges of today’s competitive marketplace by resolving problems & researching market trends.