Our company, Planview, has experienced a great deal of growth over the past several years. As our organization has grown, both organically and inorganically, it became clear that we needed a common definition of what is a product manager within our products organization. It struck me and some of our leaders that as obvious as the definition was to us, it was simply not the case for all (remember “What we talk about when we talk about product management?”). So one Friday afternoon, we went to a conference room and hashed out our “Product Manager Manifesto” – how we see the role based on our collective experience.
We tried to keep it simple, a top ten list. We may not be perfect, but this manifesto is built on years of experience building great products for great customers across a broad range of software categories. We share it in the hopes that it can help others strengthen their own product management discipline and organizations as a whole.
The Product Manager Manifesto
1. You are the internal champion and external voice for your product/product area
You have ultimate responsibility for the success of your product with no direct authority over the resources required to create that success. You are the voice of the product to customers, prospects, and analysts, from 1:1 meetings to user conferences.
2. You serve Sales and Development as primary customers
You should be a trusted resource to both organizations and if both need your assistance at the same time, Sales wins the tie. Sales should view you as the defacto product expert.
3. Your job is a combination of inbound (product management) and outbound (product marketing)
Expect to spend at least 30% of your time on outbound activities knowing that this percentage will increase with experience.
4. You are responsible for defining the positioning of any new capabilities delivered in your product/product area
Be able to tell the story, crush your competitors, demo your product, write the first draft of what’s new/press releases and enable sales.
5. You are the expert on the competition for your product/product area
You are responsible for understanding industry trends and the competitive landscape today, next quarter and 2 years from now.
6. You are the “Voice of the Customer” for your product/product area
You have the ultimate responsibility for understanding the needs of the customer, whether that customer represents future potential or current.
7. You build product roadmaps with a 12+ month time horizon that explicitly support and drive Bookings (new ACV) and Retention (reduced churn)
Target weighting of 60% innovation and competitive differentiation that drives new bookings versus 40% customer-driven enhancements that support retention.
8. You ruthlessly focus on MVP, particularly when delivering innovation or competitive differentiation
Leverage MVP to establish first-mover advantage and let customer adoption drive incremental enhancements.
9. You deliver great products that bring together use cases, analytics, and user experience
Your product should engage users, meet their requirements, and enable them to make better business decisions every day.
1o. You must be comfortable making tradeoffs, being THE decider, and defending your positions
Making decisions and tradeoffs, often with incomplete information and competing interests, is core to the job.
A version of this manifesto was originally shared in CIO.