Tuesday, July 26, 2005

So, I became a product manager.

It happened in an unexpected way – I won’t go into the details but about 6-8 weeks ago I had an opportunity to move from the development side of things to the product side of things.

Has taken me a while to get my head around it all – I still am in fact. I spoke to a couple of the product managers here to get a better idea of what I should be doing but it wasn’t until I spoke to my long time friend Richard Hall that I really made progress on understanding what I was doing.

Richard’s been a Product Manager for many years, when I decided to do an MBA a couple of years he said:
“You’ll become a Product Manager, all MBAs become Product Manager!”
And I said:
“No I won’t! I’ll still be a developer.”

Well, I got my MBA and I stayed a developer. Now he’s been proved right, for a while I didn’t want to admit it to him – silly of me I know. I spoke to him at the weekend and yes he laughed when I reminded him what he said – note, I had to remind him, he’d forgotten.

I picked his brains a bit and I got some good information. In particular he pointed me at the Silicon Valley Product Group (http://www.svproduct.com.) They have some really good papers on their website, I recommend them to any new (or existing) PMs.

And this reminded me of something else. When I went to Silicon Valley I discovered all these Product Managers. Not marketing people, but people concerned with what should be in the product.

In the UK you never meet a Product Manager. You meet lots of “Business Analysts” but they aren’t the same. Over time I came to appreciate their role and I saw that the existence of this role, and good people to fill it, was one of the differentiating factors in the Valley.

Now I’m working for a company in London which is doing well, and guess what? Unlike most British companies they actually have Product Managers. Actually, Richard is back in the UK too and is a Product Manager for another successful British technology company. So maybe the idea is spreading.

I think I’m going to like being a Product Manager.