Is product management being marginalized in your organization?
In the past few weeks, I keep hearing the same complaint from hard-working and stressed-out product managers: product management is being marginalized in their companies.
Case #1: The company is run by sales people. It’s extremely deal driven. The company is doing well. Closing deals. Sales people are becoming more powerful as a result of their stellar performance. Instead of talking to product management about individual customer requests, sales people are going directly to engineers to customize the product so that they can close the deal. The deal driven focus is driving product management crazy.
Case #2: The VP of engineering just left a start-up company. Another senior technical manager really wants to get the VP of Engineering job. He wants to shine and prove to the company that he can run the engineering organization. Instead of working with product management, he is directly talking to sales to gather requirements, and get his engineers to ship products. He wants to show that he is a doer who gets things done. Product managers couldn’t stop him because he has access to the development resources.
Case #3: In a Fortune 500 enterprise software company, the software QA team did a very poor job to test the product. Product Managers are asked by the VP of product management to fill in and test the product thoroughly. The VP of Product Management didn’t understand the there was a problem with the QA team. And she didn’t listen. As a result, Product Manager is spending a significant amount of their time on testing the product, while the development team is writing their own requirements.
In all three cases, product managers are not doing what they’re supposed to. They recognize the problems. But, because of corporate politics, they’re having a hard time to do the right thing.
According to Pragmatic Marketing, the #1 Pragmatic Marketing rule is “if product management doesn’t do its job, the other departments will fill the void.”