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One of the difficulties in product management is the fact that there is a lot of latitude in the definition of the role, and the responsibilities. While there are some common traits, if you search the body of knowledge out there, you will find a lot of variance on the formal definition of product management. This can lead to a blurring of how product management is viewed, even within the same company.

That said, part of the challenge of being an effective product manager is that each group in the organization looks to the role for something specific to their job.

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 throughout the life cycle.

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, thus a partner in the production of communications, messaging, promotion, and building communities of practice that drive organic growth. Marketing counts on product management to add significant value and gravitas to their efforts.

Executive Staff looks to product management as the leaders. Nowhere is the mantra “all the responsibility, without the authority” more clear than in the expectations from the executive staff. This is one relationship that product management needs to carefully groom and manage.

You can almost excuse the product manager for losing her sanity due to these competing demands on their time.

Yet, when you understand the expectations from the various functions, you can begin to manage your interactions, and reduce your frustrations, hopefully preserving your sanity. As the Product Manager, you are often the thread keeping it all together.

Take-aways

  • Knowing what is expected by the different groups allows you to prepare and interact accordingly
  • Don’t expect that you can reset their expectations, your best bet is to adjust your workflow to deliver what is needed
  • You can’t perfectly satisfy all these demands, so prioritize, and focus on the most crucial

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