How do you engage more with your devs?

Software PMs… I’m about 6 months into my first PM job. how do you get involved/engage with your devs more? I feel like I have no work to do 70% of the time.

Our Team: A Scrum Master, BA, PM/PO (me), and 8 Devs (4 Android, 4 iOS), 1 API dev, 1 Devops, 1QA Tester, 1QA Automation Engineer.

We run all our scrum ceremonies, and are all involved where needed from daily standup, to backlog prioritization (no devs here), Sprint planning, Retrospectives, etc. We’ve got good chemistry as a team and get along well, and I am fully present. participating, and guiding/leading, and answering questions in these meetings.

However, when tickets go to developers it’s like the work goes into a black hole until it comes to me for review from QA.

How can I help more? Get involved more? Without micromanaging or seeming like I’m hovering over their shoulders? What else can I do to support the developers?

Scrum Master is really involved in pushing the tickets along through pull requests, all sorts of other downstream checks and testing.

BA owns analytics, wireframes (I am involved here somewhat in strategic planning and direction) but she works directly with all the devs to ensure this stuff is functional and the best method to move forward.

I basically create epics and stories by getting requirements from stakeholders, manage the wireframes process, push some paper along, update the big wigs multiple times a week, work with the BA and Scrum Master, and wondering what my role is with the devs.

A lot of the time during the sprints I feel like I am doing no work.

Edit: Vision, Strategy and Road mapping the product, are out of my scope. My organization is massive. Feature request comes in, we build it. That’s it.

All thoughts are welcome!


I believe a product manager’s role should not be about getting more involved in tickets, particularly as it sounds like you have good Scrum Master and QA roles already, you should be looking to the future!

It sounds like right now you just take requests from someone senior and ask developers to do that. This is understandable when starting in a junior role, but you need to set yourself on a path away from this where you are a driving force into how your product evolves. If you don’t you will quickly run into the problem of being a feature delivery team that just keeps adding one more button to solve a particular client’s problem and you will not gain the experience required to move into more senior roles.

I would encourage you to constantly dive deep into the why behind these requests, if they are quoting clients or prospects then request you speak to the clients directly about this problem. This why should be clearly communicated on tickets you create so everyone has this context. Informed developers and designers will create much better solutions and will often surprise you with innovative suggestions when they understand the underlying motivations. Try speaking to as many clients as possible, focus on the problems they face and what they are trying to achieve in their jobs rather than “what is one feature you wish we had”. Over time you will be able to pick our recurring themes.

Try to pair this with usage metrics and think about how you plan to measure how impactful new features are and what you hope to learn.

Also try to better understand your company and product strategy (if you have one).

I would try to develop this understanding these individual elements and how they connect as much as possible. As you do this, it will be very valuable for your team if you can condense and translate this large amount of knowledge into their language.

All of this should start feeding into prioritization which is ultimately one of the most critical roles for a PM.

With these tools you will gain confidence over time to push back against simply fulfilling stakeholder requests and be able to communicate why you should be focusing elsewhere or solving their problem differently from their expectations in order to build a more impactful product.

Good luck!


What a great answer. I am trying to grow as PM and your input is extremely valuable. Thank you very much.


This is an outstanding answer.

In general, it sounds like OP is the writer on a movie set. Once the devs start working, the PM should be available to provide answers to questions, but the majority of work should be done already.

I would add two areas of focus to this answer:

  1. User feedback - there is no more valuable decision maker than your end user (and an end user doesn’t need to be a real-world customer, in case you work on an internal product; it’s whoever consumes your user stories). If end users tell you something directly, it is incredibly valuable in helping to drive decisions. Is there a user feedback channel you can plug into and incorporate into your story writing?
  2. Future looking - I have worked as a dev and a PM, and it is really challenging to switch contexts, so devs need a good PM who can look ahead and see the landscape and keep the ship pointing in the right direction, continually getting buyoff from management. Try to get as many stories groomed and in the backlog as is reasonable.

But more than anything else, I think the biggest area that PMs can work on is demonstrating a share of the workload. In general, devs live in the weeds, and if all they see from PMs is when they swoop in with new requirements every now and again, it can feel like the PMs are not sharing the workload. So, demonstrating that you are doing your part such as having a robust road map, providing feedback whenever possible, either from you or the customer, being ultra-responsive to questions, or just doing morale building stuff like going on coffee/lunch runs or whatever can really help out a lot.

Good luck!


This is a great answer. If you show the developers, you are only bringing and prioritizing valuable work it will go a long way to building a working relationship. Also, on the personal side just talk to them and know who they are and who you are. Doesn’t have to be deep just human.

My best dev engagements are with those I have more both professional and personal understandings.


Great answer! Definitely your job as a PM is to ask questions. Always ask why, what problem is being solved, how do things fit within objectives being set, how might you best approach a problem etc.


Sounds like the team is a bit overstaffed. It’s not a huge team and to split BA from PM/PO, and have your higher ups do roadmap and vision, there’s not a ton left for you.

Could try and build relationships with your mgmt team and offload some of the vision/roadmap from them?

How large is the whole company?


Overstaffed? :wink: We are 50,000+ globally… Hope that explains my query and concerns…


I think the important thing to remember is that there is always more work for a product manager than time to do it. If you are in a situation where this is not the case, take a step back and look at an area to focus that extra time on. Do you completely understand your customer? What are your competitors doing? What processes are not streamlined? What communication channels can be improved?


Who owns Vision, Strategy, and Roadmapping?


@JesusRojas, Agree, a lot of work you mentioned is already being done by me. As far as communication is concerned, we have smooth communications both ways, i mean with my uplines and the devs. Still, appreciate your insight and will definitely try to work on it religiously.

@KaranTrivedi, Big wigs. Outside of my scope.


@VladPodpoly, In my opinion, you’re not a product manager. PMs, or the product team, should be responsible for those things. That’s where many of us spend our time, and it keeps us very busy.


@Karan, Yup it’s definitely a product owner role with a PM title and salary, so I’m not exactly complaining.


@VladPodpoly, I’m sure it feels nice, but I would advise you to find an organization that needs what you can bring to the team. If anyone else at your company realizes what you realize, you’ll be first on the chopping block when they need to “tighten the belt”.


I’m sure it’s nice, but keep in mind the longer you stay in this role the harder it will become to break into more “real PM” roles because you will have no relevant experience. There are plenty of roles like yours out there - decently paid feature factory product owner roles that don’t contribute to roadmap, so it’s not out of the question that you stick to roles like this for the rest of your career. Just make sure you’re choosing that path deliberately.


@AmyWalker, Yup. It’s my first PO/PM role, so I am still learning and working closer with my BA to take on more work. Using spare time to brush up on data analytics and design thinking and will look for a new role after a full year has passed.


+1: vision, strategy, roadmapping, and leadership communications are how you get “more to do” as a PM, IMO.

You could also consider taking on more ownership over the “voice of the customer.” What methods does your team have to talk to users? What do user care about? If you’re not confident being the advocate in the room for customers, that’s a good place to invest.


@NatalieSmith, this is a problem. If the org is big, as you say, the leadership team should be setting vision for the org, and you should be building vision for the product in line with the org vision. Roadmap should be what you are working with your devs and BA to build in line with that. You need them to explain to you the cost so you can explain the ROI to leadership and get but in on your plans.


@MarcoSilva, they set the vision well and we are executing to that vision. The product requirements are fairly rigid, so I’m a glorified PO with a PM title. There’s almost no room to move in the plans.


@VladPodpoly, Yeah, sounds like ‘a place for everybody and everybody in their place’ aka my nightmare job. Some ppl love focusing on delivery/project management though. Do you enjoy it?