From The Product Manager's Handbook in explaining "heavyweight" product managers:

In addition to concept related duties, the responsibilities that come with the job include: coordinating production and sales as well as engineering; coordinating the entire project from concept to market; signing off on specification, cost-target, layout and major component choices; and maintaining direct contact with existing and potential customers. Heavyweight product managers have a broad knowledge of the product and process engineering required to develop an entire vehicle. Years of experience with the companies give their words weight and increase their influence with people over whom they have no formal authority.

And this was describing heavyweight product managers from the automobile industry. It's amazing how much of it applies to software as well - if I were to describe my oversight of product, it'd be exactly the same. Now I wonder why the state of product management in software seems so weak - I've very rarely read good bloggers or blog posts about product management in software - is it the machismo of engineering that overshadows product management?

The purview of product managers is vast - this book seems less interested in defining product management, but simply demonstrating how every company does it differently. There were moments I was reading this when the roles described were ones I had previously ascribed to sales engineers as well as account managers in sales.

Product managers will take the roles to fit into the culture of the company - is it sales driven, is it marketing driven, is it engineering driven? Defining the culture of product management is something I'm keenly interested in - for now, I reject the notion that the standard product manager organization is one that reports to marketing. I'm not completely sold on one that reports to engineering - it seems that putting a critical decision making component of a company under either is a mistake.

Perhaps this is why I've been leaning towards a product/platform split lately - I think deep down inside I want to split product into its own group that has an equal voice. I like the concept of a "healthy tension" - one that has push and pull from all sides (although I'm not a huge fan of overbuilding consensus).

Interesting food for thought as I try to take on more a formal product management role (now that I have that project management stuff out of the way) in anticipation of hiring somebody to do this...

Posted by roy on January 19, 2010 at 01:52 AM in Ramblings, MindTouch | 2 Comments

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Sridhar (guest)

Comment posted on January 21st, 2010 at 07:15 AM
" is it the machismo of engineering that overshadows product management?"
Partly true.Also the fact that many co's are yet to have a designated 'Product Manager'. Steve Johnsons talk on BoS '08 on #prodmgmt is a must watch.
Comment posted on January 19th, 2010 at 11:28 AM
checks and balances.