Product Manager/Product Owner Dilemma
Traditional product managers have broad inbound and outbound responsibilities including segmentation, requirements, positioning and pricing - often shortchanging their teams. Product owners are always available and own backlogs/stories - but often lack real market experience. Both roles have challenges. PO/PM discussions are short on context and clarity. How can agile address the broader product mgmt challenge? How to agilize waterfall PMs? Do technical POs need marketing/sales/pricing skills? We’ll look at roles and organizational models that work for commercial software companies.
- Solicit participation: who’s done which roles, what models have worked?
- Propose a taxonomy of development projects by audience (internal, external), goal (revenue, strategy, point solution), market segments (single, multiple), and dev complexity (team size, geography)
- Identify top strategic product failure models related to PMs and POs
- Walk through role responsibilities for PMs and POs. What staffing models work?
Return to project taxonomy and map successful PM/PO models with projects/products
POs need to deeply understand and represent market needs, but are mostly unable to experience them directly (since they need to be available to the team at all times), and lack the bandwidth/organizational role to coordinate the non-development activities needed to turn software into products (driving marketing, support, prof services, sales tools, legal, etc). Pricing and competitive issues are especially difficult.
- PMs need to be in the field, interacting with prospects and customers, to gain firsthand experience of the market. Especially with complex segments and trade-offs between customer groups. They are also responsible for revenue success. This can squeeze out the deep daily relationship with dev teams, making them part-timers or outsiders.
Product managers bring specific skills around market segmentation, strategy, pricing/revenue, priorities, and stakeholders (but may lack agile experience, time and attention). Product owners are part of the team, bring process/tech expertise and program detail (but may lack research skills, outbound and strategy). PM/PO models vary based on goals, organization and project complexity…
- Context/segmentation: top-down ways to sort projects
- Skills map: what are PMs expected to do? POs?
- Failure modes for commercial (revenue) and internal products