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product manager !!

What are the typical expectations from a product manager ? Are they same as program managers ? Is it possible for a coder ( around 7+ yrs) to jump right into a product manager's shoes ?

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I believe that a Product Manager is more of a customer facing position than a Program Manager.

In my previous job, the Product Manager was in the Production/Deployment side of the building. She spent a lot of time on the phone with the customers. Her team included analysts, QC, and the support folks. She would push enhancements and bugs through the specification-develop-debug process, though she did not have an active role in the development and did not have any developers working for her.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

According to the Microsoft Solutions Framework:

"The key goal of the product management role cluster is satisfied customers. Projects must meet the needs of customers in order to be successful."

In short, the Product Manager is the customer's representation inside the project.

The Program Manager is somewhat in the oposite corner: has to negotiate with the Product Manager what features are going to be included and what features aren't, in order to deliver in time and budget.

Note: In MSF the customer is not the user, but the one sponsoring the project. The one responsible to meet users' satisfaction is the User Experience role.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

The product manager should have an excellent knowledge of the domain the end product will be used in, typical setup and skills of customers, and provide an overall vision and generate market requirements. They may also advise when a product should be released, in order to maximize revenue for the company.

However, they shouldn't have direct control over developers. There needs to be someone to mediate the balance between cost, quality and time, and produce accurate plans and risk management. I think most product managers want everything done now and will hassle developers into chaos. Also they shouldn't have any handle in technical decisions, because they're not involved in the day to day running of things.

I've got on well with product managers in the past, though sometimes it does feel like a tug of war, when there's more market requirements coming in than you can possibly handle on a small development team.

Better Than Being Unemployed...
Thursday, June 19, 2003

The answer is: it depends on how your organization defines the roles.

In general, there will be a marketing role (or two). These roles represent the customers' interests in the product development process. In companies I've worked at, both the Product and Program Manager were both marketing jobs. The Program Manager managed a whole set of products that were grouped together into a program, and the individual Product Managers managed a single (or a few) product.

In general, there will be a development role (or two). These roles represent the management of the technical creation of the products. In companies I've worked at, that position is generally called a Project Manager, and it's a purely management position (keeping schedules, doing reviews, giving raises, firing, etc.).

As I said, though, each organization defines roles as they see fit. It's impossible to know without getting a job description.

Brad Wilson (
Thursday, June 19, 2003

Can one person be both 'product manager' and 'program manager'?

i would say that they could downsize one of them, given both of them (huge savings in terms of salaries)

- instead they would fire all of their programmers.

Michael Moser
Thursday, June 19, 2003

... in other words, who get fired first, the  'product manager' or 'program manager'  ????

Michael Moser
Thursday, June 19, 2003

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