Category Archives: Forrester

Product Management metrics with Tom Grant

On Wed. May 5, I will be participating in a live teleconference with Forrester Analyst Tom Grant and a number of his clients.

We’ll be discussing a number of issues related to Product Management, but focusing on metrics that are important to the field of technology product management.

I’m looking forward to the discussion and hope to learn as much as I contribute.

You can find more information about the call on Tom’s Forrester blog.

Saeed

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PM Open House Nov. 5 @ Forrester Research

If you in the Bay Area on Thursday November 5, make sure you take some time in the afternoon to attend the Product Management Open House at Forrester Research in Foster City.

Location: Forrester Research HQ
Address: 950 Tower Lane, Suite 1200, Foster City
Time: 4:00 to 5:30 PM

More details can be found here.

Kindly RSVP  Marsha Versen (mversen@forrester.com, 650.581.3851) if you are interested in attending.

If you have questions about the event, please contact Tom Grant (tgrant@forrester.com, 650.581.3846).

I honestly miss being in the Bay Area because of the numerous events like this one. They’re great for meeting new people or connecting with old friends.

Tom, I hope you have a successful Open House. Make sure you take some pictures and post them on your blog in the near future.

Saeed

So why do we undermine ourselves?

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My recent post about Tom Grant and Rick Chapman got me thinking. Is Rick alone in his misunderstanding of Product Management? To be honest, I knew what the answer would be, but I was rather surprised by what I found within the Product Management community itself!

And not to pick on the following people specifically, but here’s some of what I found:

In an article entitled “What is a Product Manager for?” written by Jacques Murphy and published on the Pragmatic Marketing site, Jacques states:

A Product Manager fills in the gaps between different functions and departments in order to make sure that the product develops and makes progress, with the aim of making the product perform better relative to the competition.

I later saw Jacques being quoted by Chris Cummings (author of the excellent Product Management Meets Pop Culture blog) in slide 2 of this deck on SlideShare.

And on slide 12 of the same deck, Cummings writes the following:

The Product Manager is the glue that binds the team together and the grease that keeps the product moving in the right direction.

And finally, this deck was the basis of a presentation that was given this past November on the Product Management View.

Now I must say that both Jacques and Chris gave a lot more detail to better explain the gaps, grease and glue, but what organization in business would define itself that way?

  • We’re Marketing. We’re the grease that enables Sales to do it’s job efficiently.
  • We’re Support. We fill the gaps left by Development, Documentation and Training.
  • We’re Project Management. We’re the glue that ensure Development and QA stay synchronized.

Do any of those sound like ways those groups would describe themselves? Not to me! So why should we refer to ourselves that way? Particularly when we believe we deliver a critical function within the business. Not only do the grease, glue and gap definitions diminish the value of Product Management, but they are fundamentally wrong.

As Nick Coster of Brainmates wrote in a comment on Chris Cummings blog,

Hey Chris, I used to see the role of the product manager as “the glue that binds teams together” but have now come to think that description grossly understates the imporance of product management.

By referring to the role as a binding or lubricating function, we acknowledge the dysfunction of other teams and accept the burden of resolving their inability to work together. If instead we lead the teams and focus their outputs then we, as the leaders for our products, can drive better outcomes for the business, our customers and ourselves.

I completely agree with Nick.

It’s time to stop describing Product Management as something that fills the gaps or greases the wheel etc. and start describing it consistently as a business critical role that helps optimize R&D investments, aligns teams across departmental silos and helps drive business success for the products under management.

Product Management is a critical enabler of business success, and like other departments such as Sales, Marketing and Finance, must be structured, staffed and directed in a deliberate manner to maximize opportunity for success.

Saeed

Can’t we all just get along?

Having just finished a post recently defending Microsoft PM Scott Buchanan from the overwhelming force of the Cranky PM’s vituperative volley, I came across another scathing salvo from Tom Grant at Forrester.

I have to give Tom credit for two things though:

  1. He does clarify that the role of Product Manager at Microsoft is more like a Marketing Manager with outbound focus.
  2. The title of his post “Crankiness vs. Perkiness–FIGHT!” is one of the better titles I’ve seen in a while on a PM blog

But, Tom does get on Scott’s case for not being technical, pumping his fist when reading email, and having a Zune. You can read Scott’s original Business Week profile here.

In the Business Week article, written by Scott himself, he writes:

On my first day at Microsoft it took me 30 minutes just to find the latch to open my laptop…

Her Crankiness also fixated on this point, using it as evidence that Scott was somehow unfit for any job that had either of the words “Product” or “Manager”, let alone both, in the job title. Chill out a bit folks. That line is obviously a bit of self-deprecating humour.

Tom is critical of Scott’s youth stating:

He’s a bit too young and naive to blame him for doing anything but what his new employer asks him to do.

Tom also focuses on Scott’s line that his job is about “unlocking value” in Microsoft Office. Tom writes:

Use Scott’s own description of his job, “unlocking value,” you need a deep understanding of both the tool and the problem to help people understand how to use one to fix the other. If Scott lacks the technical skill to understand the tool, and he’s not devoting a lot of time to understanding the use case, then how exactly is he going to help people “unlock value?”

Give the guy a break. It’s a bit of a leap to jump from a self-deprecating line about technical aptitude, to the conclusion that he lacks the skills to understand Microsoft Office. This is Microsoft Office, not SQLServer or IIS that we’re talking about here.

I have nothing against Tom or Cranky, or Scott for that matter, but I’m really surprised at how quickly the PM community openly attacked Scott. Is that how we should be treating each other? Is that going to better our profession?

Sorry for being on a high horse, but let’s work towards a common good vs. tearing each other down.

Saeed

Forrester on Product Management

I’m quite happy to report that Forrester Research has started a blog covering Product Management:

 

http://blogs.forrester.com/product_management/

Here’s link to the bio of the analyst writing the blog: http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/tom_grant

IMHO, this is a very positive development. Research firms like Forrester, Gartner etc. are typically descriptive vs. prescriptive. i.e. when they start covering a space or a market, it is because it exists and is growing and deserves focus, vs. spending time covering something that has not yet reached a minimum critical mass and may grow in the future.

As an example, I worked for a number of years at Informatica in California. We were a recognized leader in the “ETL” (Extract-Transform-Load) market. But we really saw the market as having moved to what many called “Data Integration“. It wasn’t until several years later that the analyst firms created specific research practices related to Data Integration.

So with Forrester looking at Product Management, this probably means that firms selling products such as Requirements Management tools will be getting more analyst coverage, and perhaps Forrester will host events or conferences related to technology product management. It will be interesting to watch.

So,welcome Forrester, and let’s hope the other research firms see the light.

Saeed