Just curious to know. I see that many PM positions are focused with product development. are there any PMs who primarily concentrate on product strategy?
Do Product Managers really focus on prioritizing product strategy over product development?
As a PM, I conduct both of these. Depending on the size of your company. My companies have had fewer than 50 employees and either large or compact product teams. I have been in charge of both strategy and development. When I have a strong engineering counterpart, I am able to concentrate more on strategy.
A product marketing manager frequently enters the picture if by strategy you mean things like determining the target market, GTM and marketing tactics, pricing, etc.
There are positions out there that are in charge of deciding what product (or products) to develop and what features and functionalities they will have when they gain traction in the market.
Yet, depending on where you go, you’ll get a combination of the two aforementioned functions. Also, executive leadership will assign priorities and make strategic decisions for you to “supplement” whatever ideas you may have.
It’s interesting that this rolls up under the PMM role. I read a few articles from Aha! and they mentioned that product strategy including market analysis falls under the conventional PM path.
Yes, there are product management roles that focus more on product strategy than product development. In fact, product strategy is an essential part of the product management function.
Some organizations may have separate roles for product strategy and product development, with the former focused on defining the overall direction and goals for the product, while the latter is focused on executing and delivering the product. In this case, the product strategy role may be responsible for conducting market research, analyzing customer needs, defining the product vision and roadmap, and setting business goals and objectives.
Other organizations may have a single product manager responsible for both product strategy and development. In this case, the product manager would need to balance strategic thinking with tactical execution to ensure the product is developed and delivered in line with the overall vision and goals.
Ultimately, the specific responsibilities of a product manager can vary depending on the organization and the product being managed. However, in all cases, a product manager must have a deep understanding of the market, the customer, and the competition, and must be able to develop and communicate a clear product strategy to drive success.
There are roles that undoubtedly place a greater emphasis on product strategy, roadmap creation, and a close working relationship with your counterpart in product marketing. I concur with others in saying that this only occurs when your engineering staff is self-sufficient and takes responsibility for carrying out the product vision. My present position is quite similar to this. I’ll develop features that have a business context, talk about them with the team, and they’ll be mostly responsible for breaking them down into stories and checking in with me. This implies that instead of creating acceptance criteria all day, I should be listening in on sales calls with potential clients. Collaborating with our customer engagement team to identify the benefits and challenges that clients value. Determining what data we can utilize to support development hypotheses by consulting with our data scientist. My preference for balance is what drew me to this specific role. Every company is unique, and some simply expect PMs to manage the backlog, while others anticipate a more strategic or business-focused role.
This role sounds like a dream come true. Can you share more about your organization such as size, industry, age etc.?
My org is ~80 person / $8M ARR and we’re a subsidiary of a ~2000 person / $500M ARR company. We focus on collaboration and work management tools and sell B2B.
It’s funny. PMs at my company have The title Product Strategist and many do more strategy than development. Somehow recently I do more development than strategy. Titles, roles, and actual work you do can be very fluid and dependent on place and time.
There’s a few roles explicitly focused on Product Strategy, but more so at big tech given the scale required to allocate resources specifically to that function.
The product marketing managers have frequently filled the strategic gap since agile has forced many product managers into product owner responsibilities.
Product managers were originally business managers. They typically put more of their attention on development as product owners (after all, the Scrum PO role was defined by developers). And a vacuum is hated by nature.
I like to distinguish THREE roles:
- an expert product manager (working with finance and executives)
- an owner of a technical product (working with users and development)
- a manager of product marketing (working with buyers and marketing)
The (strategic) product manager, the product owner, and the product marketing manager are three jobs in product management that each plan future products, the subsequent release of an existing product, and growth initiatives for an existing product, respectively.
I have several years of product experience, and I currently oversee “Product Development” as a Vice President. In this department, I have engineering teams, agile project management, product design, data science, product management, and product marketing. The phrase “everything you need to bring a product from idea to launch” comes to mind.
My question is, what are the explicit lines between strategy and development?
I may create the product vision and contemplate the long-term items that make-up the building blocks of our product portfolio, but I would argue that ever smaller team has a% or work that is strategic and “development”.
Product planning has always piqued my interest much more than actual product development, in my opinion. At my previous company, early in my career, I thought about moving to a position with a focus on product strategy.
In hindsight, I’m very glad I decided against switching. In the majority of companies, the eng/pm roles have a dominant position. If any positions with a focus on product strategy exist, they typically operate in silos and lack real decision-making authority.
Being a PM lead is fantastic, in my opinion. You are directing the strategy of your team and probably having an impact on partner teams and your larger group. You might also concentrate on assembling a team of individuals with complementary skill sets (for me, that is growing execution oriented PMs).
The reality is that the function has a lot of flexibility and differs depending on the industry, the firm within the industry, and the teams inside those companies.
You would find quite a deal of variation in the role, expectations, and the way they would prefer you to complete tasks if you conducted 50 interviews this month for just the position of generalist PM, ranging from major tech to seed-funded startups.
In my experience, that only came once I began to lead teams. For us, that was Senior PM/Director level. At that point, you’re just keeping your team on track and thinking a full year or more out.
The role and responsibilities of a particular job can vary significantly based on various factors, such as the industry, company culture, size, and the specific team within the company. Even within the same industry, different companies may have unique approaches to the same job role.
For example, a software engineer working in a startup may have different responsibilities than a software engineer working in a large tech company. Similarly, a marketing manager in a fashion company may have different tasks than a marketing manager in a healthcare organization.