How others see Product Managers


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.

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6 responses to “How others see Product Managers

  1. Ethan,

    Here’s a little tidbit that may save 50 people a lot of work. As you know, when I lived in the Bay Area, I was PM for PowerCenter at Informatica. And boy, did we have great SAP connectivity.

    http://www.informatica.com/products/powerexchange/applications/default.htm

    I can hook you up with the right people if you want. 🙂

    Saeed

  2. Ethan,

    How are PMs measured at Google? I have to assume something is driving this behaviour? If the objective is to do whatever it takes to drive ad revenue, then things like supportability is probably outweighed by the revenue potential of the new feature or capability.

    Would be worth understanding better.

    Saeed

  3. Good product managers should be considering the overall cost of new features that are added to the product, the impact on sales, services and customer service.

    A product that drives a lot of cost within other parts of the business may be worth it because of the revenue it can generate…. but if not then don’t do it 🙂

  4. I’ve seen product managers who oversell what the product can or will do; typically they spend more time with sales than other teams. That’s a bit of a generalization; ultimately it comes down to individuals and how they are measured/compensated. The company’s management ultimately sets the tone for how things go at all levels. The focus they put on leadership and compensation will show up at all levels in the company.
    Michael

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