Why is there no well understood and widely recognized definition for technology Product Management?
Sales doesn’t have this problem. Marketing doesn’t have this problem. Engineering doesn’t really have this problem. Finance doesn’t have this problem.
But Product Management does.
There is no single reason why, but one major reason, based on my own observations in a number of companies, is that the focus and objectives of Product Management change as a company grows and itself evolves.
In the very earliest stages of a company, most people aren’t actually thinking of Product Management at all. But if they do, they most likely associate it with collecting product requirements and working with Engineering to get the “right features” built.
As the company grows, more emphasis may be placed in helping the sales teams or the sales engineers penetrate the market. And then at some point, working with Marketing gets added. And somewhere along the way, competitive intelligence becomes more important and possibly more formalized. And partners become important and Product Management must work with them in some form.
Business vs. technical
In some companies, Product Management takes on more of a business focus with revenue targets or even direct accountability.
And as the company grows, the Product Management team grows (but never quickly enough!) and starts instilling some form of “process” to collect requirements, work with other teams etc.
As you can see, there is an ongoing state of change for Product Management, much moreso than for other roles and teams in the business.
So while not the only reason, Product Management evolves as the company does. Does it have to be this way? Not 100%, but it’s important to keep the core objectives of Product Management consistent and focused regardless of the company size.
For examples, Sales’ responsibilities evolve little as companies grow. The objective is customer acquisition and bookings or sales. The finance guys decide how to convert that to revenue.
So what do you think about this? Have you observed similar evolutionary responsibilities as companies grow?
What’s the best way for Product Management to get setup and working properly right from the get-go?
Would love to hear your thoughts.