More than a decade of grousing about product management

What do different groups look for in Product Management

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Challenges of product management: meeting diverse expectations from operations, finance, sales, marketing, and executives.

Product Management is a tough place to be. Central to a well-functioning organization, the pressures and stressors come from all sides, often driving product managers insane.

Part of the challenge of effective product management is that each organization looks to the role for something different.

Operations looks to product management to define and shepherd successful, buildable, scalable, and well-conceived products. they are responsible to ship product (or to ramp services). They need product management to consider manufacturability and supportability early in the process, and to be reactive to the needs of production.

Finance looks to product management for realistic ramp rates, projections of sales, and to define products with a costs/revenue ratio that meets the model.

Sales looks to product management to build what they need to make quota. They need the products, the messaging, and the back-end collateral to sell buckets of products. This nebulous requirement can be challenging to create and deliver, more so because regions and segments often have unique twists.

Marketing is special. Often product management is part of the marketing organization, but often a partner in the production of communications, messaging, promotion, and building communities of practice that drive organic growth.

Executive Staff looks to product management as the leaders. Nowhere is the mantra “all the responsibility, without the authority” clearer than in the expectations from the executive staff. Often disconnected from the day to day, product managers are the conduit and source for messaging. Balancing the day-to-day tactical firefighting with the gloss that executives expect to hear takes a mighty toll on the psyche of the product manager. Having to portray a positive, glowing message to the senior staff, while mucking around in the messiness of keeping a product running is not fun, and one of the biggest difficulties in the role.

Nobody wants to be seen as an Eeyore in the organization, but often product management is both the truth teller, and the white washer in chief.

All the pressure of these demands can really take a toll on the product manager. It is no wonder why many new product managers burn out quickly and look back to their tenure as the worst time of their career.

Written by

A crusty veteran from the product management trenches. Plenty of salty language, references to cannabis, and a connoisseur of White Russian cocktails

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Written by pmdude