Defining product management is hard enough – role boundaries and organizational structures vary widely between companies. But even thornier than the definitional question is the issue of where should product managers report. This week, we asked you where PMs should report: marketing, engineering, or somewhere else.
We were partially prompted to ask this because of a surprising finding in the recently published State of Product Leadership. In this survey of over 300 product managers, the majority told us that they report into marketing. What we weren’t surprised to find, however, was that our debaters came down firmly on “somewhere else.” Bona fide product leaders (VP of Product and CPO), they both believe that product management has a special role that should have a unique reporting line outside of marketing and engineering.
Are reporting lines called into question at your product organization?
Head of Product
At Wix, PMs are not part of engineering or marketing. The company is divided into 28 small organizations we call companies, each oriented around a product. The product manager reports either to the head of product of the company or to the company's CEO. We also have guilds - professional organizations- server, fed, UX, etc. In the capacity- product is an independent guild - the VP product reports to the CEO.
VP Product, Wix
Although in the past I have been a CMO with Marketing and Product Management responsibility, the world of marketing has changed so dramatically that this model is no longer the ideal. The revenue and demand domain is so deep that the center point of marketing has changed. Engineering is full of potential conflicts of interest. I am certainly biased, but the Somewhere Else of a Products organization that is a C-Level reporting function that brings together PM, Dev, and Ops is my ideal answer. That is what we at Planview have implemented and believe in; it creates a balance of strategy and delivery within one Products function, accelerates decision making, and drives one coherent strategy.