2006 Newsletter Archive
The average product manager is 36 years old with 88% claiming to be 'somewhat' or 'very' technical. 91% have completed college and 39% have completed a masters program. 29% are female and 71% are male. Read more in the 2006 survey results.
Every year, Pragmatic Institute conducts a survey about roles, responsibilities, and compensation for product management and marketing professionals. You can find prior years' results on our web site. As always, we're asking some questions to get more visibility into a typical day in the life of a product manager. And we're still asking compensation questions so you can see how your company's salary and bonus structure compares to the rest of the industry.
Technology marketing and product management requires domain expertise. People who tell you otherwise probably aren't very effective in working with developers and engineers. Domain expertise helps product managers connect with buyers and users to truly understand what they need and not just what they want. Domain knowledge steers marketing communications to effective programs with a clear message for the buyer. Likewise developers and engineers. When a judgment call is necessary--and this is often--a developer who understands the customer profile is more likely to make the correct choice. Gone are the days when we could have 'coders' who programmed to someone else's design. At least, those days are gone when businesses investigate outsourcing.
Titles really are a mess in our business. What one company calls a product manager, another calls a product marketing manager. Technology businesses have generally ignored the standard terms used in other industries. In our annual compensation survey we asked people's titles and reported incomes based on the titles without defining what we think they are. We also asked them to report responsibilities.
It appears that product managers are spending more of their time supporting development and less time supporting sales. More than 50% of product managers say they are writing detailed specifications while fewer than 50% say they are going on sales calls. Interestingly, more product managers say that are monitoring development projects than say they are writing requirements.
So you've attended Practical Product Management and gotten all fired up! You come back to the office ready to be market-driven. You're anxiously awaiting the looks of joy and amazement at your newly found skills as a product manager. And then reality hits you... hard! Development couldn't care less! They're not listening!! How could this be??
You missed a step: you skipped the part where you earned credibility. What do you do first? For an existing project or product, start with the ending.
Extreme Programming and other forms of agile development are sweeping into the vendor world. With emphasis on quick iterations and brevity in artifacts, the new approach to planning documentation is a breath of fresh air.
There are some who say that product management is the enemy, that product managers will try to impose structure, that product management will require detail where none is necessary. Fundamentally, some say that product management stands for everything that agile is not.
The initial product launch may be the only time that sales people get information about your product. Your sales people probably have more information about your competition’s products and strategy than they do about your own. Think about it. How much time do your sales people spend learning about your product? And how much time do they spend learning about the competition? And being reminded constantly of the competition by their customers?
Sales people need to be schooled continually in the value of your product. By making product information available and accessible, you can give sales people the tools they need to help themselves.
It is generally believed that 'easy-to-use' and 'powerful' are contradictions in design. 'My mom should be able to use it' translates into making an easy interface while 'I want absolute control over the placement of items in my document' requires a powerful interface. It's as if 'Easy” and 'Powerful' are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
In larger companies, titles proliferate. The role of product manager is often called something else. In one company, sixteen people in a meeting, each with a unique title, learned they all did basically the same job. Titles are meaningless if they don't illuminate. Years ago, a 'manager' was above 'supervisor' in the corporate hierarchy; a manager managed people. Then as titles began their escalation we started seeing senior managers, associate managers, and assistant managers as well as industry managers, marketing managers, product managers, program managers, process managers, and so on.
Nowadays, people who manage people are now called Directors and people who manage 'things' are now called Managers. In effect, the term manager can now be equated with 'expert.' If we changed the word 'manager' to 'expert,' would titles still hold up?
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