Monday, November 9, 2020

Product Manager - Thoughts/Observations

 One of the profession/roles that is talked about, discussed, in demand is the role of a product manager especially in the technology world. There is lot of enquiries or need for Product Managers, also the recent COVID crisis has challenged the business and hence lot of Product Managers also lost Jobs. A interesting trend i have noticed is that there are product managers who have a couple of years experience to folks who have 10 Years or more of work experience. It is a very broad spectrum and hence lot of questions are raised around who can be a good product Manager. Also noticed that there folks who want to become a Product Manager are the ones who do want to code in certain areas of business. Let me try to take a deeper look and pen down my Observations. In Some cases Product Manager roles have become glamorous in the sense that it feels nice to say one is a PM.

Product Manager in my discussions with colleagues/professionals is a very important and crucial role in a organization. The role is is at the intersection of the following:

1. Business
2. Technology
3. Customers

So a person who is approaching a PM Role needs to understand the dynamics of the above 3 components. There needs to be a understand of how the 3 components work together. What is the primary business of a n organization what products do they have for customers. Secondly what type of technology is used to build the products, thirdly who are your customers. In Summary one needs to understand high level picture plus also understand the details behind what is being delivered.

Let us dwell a little deeper into each of the components:
  • Business - Understand the business strategy for the company and the Line of Business. Get a gauge on the stakeholders, understand the budget/resources that could be available for you product in terms of development/research/maintenance,What are the interfacing units and dependencies. How is the company performing financially and the target markets.
  • Technology: Understanding The tools being used to develop the product, what type of vendor lock is there , is it based on a Open source Architecture with less of vendor Lock in. In terms of data, what are the data sources, are the data sources very disparate or well integrated. Are there opportunities to streamline the data. One important aspect that is being experimented today is if Product management can be totally driven, if decisions could be justified by data.This is going to be even important in a data/information filled world.
  • Customers: Getting continuous feedback from customers, conducting surveys/talking to customers to get feedback on product usage/issues faced. Conducting useability studies and getting them back into the product backlog. Adopting a agile approach to building a product/collaborating with them to get the proper engagement.
In Summary, Product Manager is a exciting but a challenging role, it is imperative that one has the proper grooming/mentoring to get to a PM Role. There is a lot of temptation to cut corners(Like i won't do certain things...) to achieve it, but the consequences can be devastating that could erode self confidence. It would best to have a plan of action, set of goals and work with a mentor to achieve the results.

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