In today’s Wall Street Journal, Cynthia Crossen states (subscription required):
The toughest part of inventing isn’t solving problems. It’s figuring out which problems to solve.
To me, this is the fundamental role of a Product Manager. When you’re building software products (managed services included) most things are possible. A talented engineering team can probably write code to solve most of the problems that customers face. The question becomes “is it worth it?”
A Product Manager looks for the intersection between technical possibility and market opportunity and guides the allocation of scarce problem solving resources (usually developers) towards the problems that solve the biggest customer problems.