Reorg time: Put PMs and PMMs in the same department!

Wow! At the time of writing this post, almost 80% of respondents to my poll, asking  If Product Management and Product Marketing should be part of the same organization, answered Yes, they should!

While far from scientific, I was quite surprised to see how skewed the results were in favour of this union between the two teams.

Given the readership of this blog, mostly Product Managers, with a mix of marketing, product marketing, engineering and others, I thought the numbers would be far more balanced in terms of joining together.

From the comments on the post, it’s clear that there is a gulf between these two groups in terms of information and communication. Here’s a sampling of some of the comments:

Derrick Workman:
“Both product marketing and product management have responsibility for the overall product success or Profit/Loss….I think in many organizations rolling these two groups into one makes sense, as long as we distinguish product marketing from marketing communications.”

Byron Workman:
I recently visited with one company similar to the one Saeed mentions in the 10:01pm comment. It was a big problem that the Product Management team was way too development centric and the Product Marketing team was way off in never-never land. … The gulf of information was huge, and it was extremely difficult to get a new release that was market focused, because each group had its own idea of what the release should do, and each one even had a different idea of what the release did.

Darayush Mitry:
For me having Product Managers doing both inbound (traditional PM) and outbound (PMM like) activities with a shared PMM (pure play) resource all reporting into the same VP .. aligned and executing on the same strategy works best.

I defintely think they should be in the same department. The overlap in knowledge and skillset is great and in a smaller company, the ability to leverage a core group of people for all product-related activities provides the greatest amount of flexibility.

Having product management and product marketing report into organizational head who has responsibility for P&L for a particular product line makes a lot of sense (Whether it is VP of products or CPO).

While several people did clarify their positions and specify how they saw benefit in these two groups being part of one organization, one person left comments that argued for keeping them separate. I’ve reproduced his entire comment below.

David Daniels:
Saeed, we have to start with what we expect from the PM and PMM roles. We know that titles are a mess and don’t always represent the roles. While PMs should be the messengers of the market, they often are sucked into Development hell, rarely to be seen again. I’ve seen this happen with “products” groups that start out with the best of intentions but magically get taken over by the VP of Development at some point, returning to hell again. Product marketing managers should be the experts on buyers, the buying process and buying criteria first and then the product second. For that reason I prefer PMMs be part of the Marketing organization (big “M” of marketing not the little “m” of marketing as in coffee mugs and t-shirts).

I’ll leave the topic with the following points:

There is no absolute here WRT organization, but there are problems that need to be addressed in software and technology companies. Keep in mind that the software industry is still very young. If this were the auto industry, I’d say we are somewhere in the 1930s or 1940s. i.e. lots of innovation, lots of focus on technology (how many horsepower  and CCs is that engine?) and lots of opportunity for improvement. The equivalent of the Toyota Production System has not been created for software, so there’s a lot of potential improvement in how these companies can structure, organize and execute.

Thinking about information flow and it’s value within a company, and the clear overlap of skills and knowledge that exists in Product Management and Product Marketing (not Marcom!). Aligning these two groups intimately, so they share a common foundation of knowledge, and then take that throughout the organization and beyond will only benefit companies.

If that is not done, then the gulfs between these two groups will remain and not only reduce their individual effectiveness, but put an unnecessary burden on a company in executing optimally.



7 responses to “Reorg time: Put PMs and PMMs in the same department!

  1. Saeed: You didn’t mention the other solution that I’ve seen over and over – have a single individual do both the inbound and outbound tasks.

    It can be a crushing job, but it sure solves the communication issue…!

    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental PM Blog
    “Home Of The Billion Dollar Product Manager”

  2. Jim,

    I’m not a big fan of crushing jobs. 🙂

    In small companies, there may be only one person to do both inbound/outbound tasks. So as the company grows, why not add people into the same team and build a scalable team within a single department?

  3. Saeed: you bring up a great point – how to deal with growth. I’m a big fan of promoting the small company’s PM to mange the larger team.

    I don’t like having inbound and outbound separated by a department boundary. More PM jobs, just one department!

    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental PM Blog
    “Home Of The Billion Dollar Product Manager”

  4. Jim, I’m actually with you and the blended PM (inbound/outbound) role where there are shared PMM resources leveraged across PM’s all aligned and on the same team.
    I’ve seen it work well and not be crushing when there is a mature and well oiled Development process/team and high level of trust so the inbound PM role does not become a time sink for the blend.

  5. Let me go on the record and say that crushing jobs don’t do anyone any good.

    The answer to this question is simple – put product marketing and product management into the same organization, which forces them to “play nice” when it comes to how roadmaps and go-to-market strategy are put together. I Can Tell You From Bitter Experience that if PM and PMM are filled with strong, market-savvy people there is going to be conflict here. It’s the job of the executive owner to resolve it and set the tone for how these two important teams collaborate and cooperate.

  6. Pingback: Product Management Belongs in the Marketing Organization |

  7. Michael Shrivathsan

    Excellent discussion. My thoughts are more along the lines of Jim and Darayush.

    I just wrote a detailed post on why it should be combined into 1 role – check it out: My blog post here