I attended an excellent discussion (via webinar) of what product managers should be doing in organizations, from the perspective of Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group. It was titled "Product Management vs. Product Marketing," but I didn't hear a lot about the "versus" part.
Some of the high level tidbits that Marty Cagan provided include:
- The product manager is responsible for discovering a product that is valuable, usable and feasible.
- When a project "fails," it is the product manager's fault. When it succeeds, it's because the entire team worked together successfully.
- New product managers should spend about 3 months becoming familiar with their product, the users, the market and the technology.
- Typically, no one reports to the product manager.
The focus of the webinar was around describing the various functions of the product manager, starting out with the discussing the Cagan's view of obsolete descriptions of the job. These obsolete descriptions revolve around tying product management and product marketing together too tightly. They are separate and important roles, and in Cagan's view should not be done by the same person - or be confused about which is which.
I particularly liked the way he talked about product management as discovering the product. There are many elements to that - and many sources for help, but they all have to come together under the banner of product management. And then it has to get built, marketed, sold, and purchased with the collaboration of many others inside and outside the organization.
Cagan and the SVPG have published a lot of this thinking - and more - on their website. They have a blog with a lot of useful articles, the SVPG Blog (two or three a month). For example, Product Management vs. Product Marketing describes the first half of the webinar. And What Product Management Is Not that describes some other aspects of the webinar.