So, first off I (Ethan) have started a new job. And I have to admit it: I am no longer a Product Manager. I have taken a job as a Technical Account Manager at a certain large search engine company located in Mountain View (California). So I’m going to be on the front lines for a change, working with large partners to get our products implemented. SVPMA members feel free to drop a line so I can look out for you at the next SVPMA meeting.
But to my real point: I was eating lunch with some of my new co-workers today who are a mixture of pre-sales (SEs) and post-sales (TAMs). One person was complaining about some of our Product Managers. To almost-quote: “he wanted all the glory without having to do any of the hard work.” Another person commented that the PMs often went ahead of started selling features to partners that were somewhere between difficult and impossible to implement. It was the exact opposite of the stereotypical sales situation: here were the sales people telling the PM to shut up and stop overselling.
I protested vehemently, of course, but for the most part I had to agree with them. Worrying about ease of implementation or supportability is often low on the PM’s list of priorities. People want to import data from SAP – well let’s build it! And who cares that it will take fifty people to implement it? That’s Services’ problem. My bonus depends on putting out new features.
So, if you want to be a Good Product Manager, build great new features that customers will use and love. But if you want to be a Great Product Manager, build great new features that your coworkers in services and support can actually deal with. In the fast-paced markets most of us work in the strategy of “Ready, Fire, Aim” builds buzz and can get a lot of press, but does it build a sustainable business? Rarely.