Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More Adventures in Product Management

This isn't intended to be funny or anything like that. I just thought I should share these little tidbits I've picked up through work experience.

There are some keys to making product management work. Nobody can argue that there are some "keys", but they might quibble with the ones that I think are most important. They can chew their own nads, for all I care.

First thing is that PM, whether one person or a whole, must have a clearly defined set of responsibilities and an obvious place within an organization. You can't be successful with PM by committee and you can't have it work if all of the stakeholders don't understand what PM is doing. PM has to interface with sales, marketing, development, etc. and those communications need to be seamless. So, for example, developers need to understand that PM will define the requirements for their work, but will not dictate how to design the software. PM decides what the product needs to do, but development determines how the product will do it. If the implementation doesn't work well, then PM has the right to tell the developers to do it over (within reason). This is a frustrating thing for everyone involved, which is why good requirements are so important.

Which leads me to the second key. It isn't just good requirements; it's understanding what good requirements are and knowing how to write them. I'm not good at describing them, but I know them when I see them.

Back to the first key for a moment. It helps a whole hell of a lot when a product manager does not have a boss that ignores his/her efforts. Okay, so this did happen to me. I worked hard on developing product strategy and got the CTO to buy in only to have the idiot CEO I worked for completely disregard it all. Doesn't exactly move things forward if the CEO basically goes back to implementing his own ideas whenever he feels like it, does it?

Alright, more on good requirements. This is probably the one thing that product managers must do well. If you don't know how to do it, learn. Pragmatic Marketing offers a class and Joel Spolsky has written some great articles about it. RTFM and get moving.

Third key...? Plentiful chocolate cake.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Dude. In all my years of programming, I've only ever received one decent set of requirements. This might be why I'm sick of programming or at least programming for the people I program for.