I run a product management team for a Atlanta based software company and for those who don't know, it's the greatest job in the world. One of the goals I had for this blog when I created it was to share my experiences with folks and perhaps learn a thing or two in the process. Since starting this blog however I don't think I've talked about this subject once. I'd like to change that, and get back to my original goal. Sure I might rant form time to time, but I'm going to try pretty hard to stay on topic for once.
So for starters, what is Product Management? I'm only going to talk about software product management because it's what I know and let me tell you from one company to the next it's hard to nail down. Product Managers wear a lot of hats, do a lot of things, share a lot of information, we glue a lot of things together, we heard cats.
The Product Manager is the “CEO” of their product. Responsible for the general management of the product including product definition, pricing, positioning and distribution strategy. The product manager leads a cross-functional team of engineering, QA, marketing, operations and sales to build, launch and deliver their product into the market and they do this all without anyone reporting to them.
That last part is pretty important, in short it means if you can't convince your peers that what you are building is both awesome and necessary, you probably won't be able to convince the market either (unless you are part of a dysfunctional team but I'll discuss that topic later).
For me, Product Management is also it's own entity, definitely not part of the engineering department, maybe part of the marketing organization but ideally it's own group free to focus on two thing - market needs and market trends. It's absolutely imperative that good product management teams get to focus most of their energy in this direction and not get bogged down in other tasks. It's not a product managers job to make stuff up, and if we are not out listening to the market when crunch time comes along that's exactly what will happen. To quote Steve Johnson from Pragmatic Marketing "Your opinion, while interesting, is irrelevant." We need to be always listening for the good ideas and be molding them into great ones. We need to make sure that our products meet market needs and support market trends.
OK, so that's the basics, my next articles will focus on some of the more thorny issues I see facing PM on a daily basis. See you soon!