Product Manager to Engineers Ratio

The ratio between product managers and engineers, according to my employer, is 1:10. To support the new structure, he said this. As a result, many PMs began overseeing two teams with entirely separate domains. Is this typical? How is the ratio in your business? And yes, there are no scrum masters here. Designers, PMMs, and data specialists do not work in teams.

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Depending on your setup, you can increase the ratios even further if the teams handle PO work or have dedicated POs. If the PM must handle all PO work, you will either need to reduce the number of teams or accept that there will be waste as teams will no longer be working on the most crucial issues.

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No, that’s a recipe for failure. I’ve tried it.

Me, a product designer, and 5 engineers, one of whom is a cloud architect/SRE but can also do regular dev work.

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I actively manage two products as an SPM, together with roughly eight other engineers, two designers, and three support engineers. By way of a different product manager who answers to me, I also oversee the management of another product.

Although I am unaware of the standard within the industry, I do find the set and the many goods difficult. Here are some tips on what I do:

  1. Instead of developing wireframes anymore, I now share interactive low-level prototypes or interactive wireframes with designers. Because of this, the designer and I both save time because discussions are more focused and center on productive points of disagreement rather than rambling discussions of everything that appears on the screen and finicky, repetitive, time-consuming tinkering with prototypes.

  2. Every day, I have separate conversations with the engineers about the sprint tickets at my 15-minute standups for both products. In this method, the discussions are brief and more interesting because the engineers have already read the tickets.

  3. I concentrate on conducting additional usability testing with the clients using the prototypes from simple conversations with clients. I currently aim to conduct two testing sessions each month. Despite the fact that the discussion is dynamic, and the questions keep changing, I frame my questions in advance. However, because I have already shown the client the prototypes, the client has specific questions before we even start talking.
    Although the feedback is more detailed, the customer is not deterred from discussing their more significant problems or pain points.

  4. More diagrams, more interactive prototypes, and less text (come on, how many engineers actually read these!)

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I’ve seen a few different setups. Most teams have been no bigger than 6 and are cross-functional.

I have seen PMs straddle multiple teams. Usually, they will be senior in experience.

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Not having a scrum master, UX designer and an APO that does the project management / detailed sprint planning part is a much bigger problem than having two teams imo.

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It depends on how developed the product is. New market segments require more product resources, whereas more developed goods require more engineering resources.

We typically have between 1 PM and 8 engineers on staff, but some engineering teams are larger and some products need as many as 2 PMs of resources.

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Is it okay to be a pedant? Yes. Is it a formula for success? Maybe not.

I’ve had two teams with various products at one point, and at my peak, I was the product manager for four teams, so I’ve done what you stated! I was constantly fatigued from constantly changing contexts and being unable to give any of my products a thorough thought. In addition, I squandered a lot of time away from my actual PM duties writing stories and running standups.

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@NathanEndicott, I am now the PM for four teams (six if you count the two teams whose PMs I am covering for). I serve as the PM and PO for each of the four teams. I’ve been filling in as the scrum master for two teams because they have been without one for a few weeks. The business wants me to spend more time on strategy and product research, but I can’t. I can’t seem to find the time or the energy. All day, every day, in the weeds and context-switching Can’t even manage to make sure present work is up to par, let alone look into new prospects.

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@NaomiNwosu, If you are assertive enough, you might set aside time for those PM-specific tasks, and then devote the remaining portion of your time to managing the teams, which I assume will suffer as a result of less care. However, if you aren’t there, they might be able to self-organize and function without you bossing them around, and the company will gain from the more and more time you can spend on your/their priorities.

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In the business, sure. However, if it’s possible, a placemat exercise to foster commonality would be beneficial.

These positions may not be necessary depending on the product space. Make a strong case for adding those abilities if there is a gap. If you truly require PMM OR data, request a short-term contractor for a particular initiative to demonstrate the potential impact.

Like a PO, a scrum master. There are positions available to perform a job like that, however anyone in the delivery team can fill that position. A well-run pod can rotate SM responsibilities. If not, I urge my engineering manager to take responsibility for the position.

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In my previous position, I managed 4 or 5 teams of 5-8 solution resources (Dev, QA, UX), however in my new position, I am responsible for 5 Scrum Masters and 10 teams. Each of them has two squads.

It’s pretty typical.

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It actually depends on the company’s maturity and where they are in the product life cycle. However, I have worked for huge, established megacorps that operate offshore, where the ratio is closer to 1 PdM for 8–12 engineers. I have also observed several startups in their third or fourth fundraising round and at the S-1 filing, when the ratio is much closer to 3-5 engineers per PdM. But once more, onshore versus offshore is important, and many people in this thread have called for a 1:5 ratio.

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Does your manager have a connection to such figures since I haven’t seen them before? - I’m partly trolling and partly wondering if someone genuinely has that information.

However, to respond to your query, it varies. The products’ level of development Which teams are more developed? How many tasks can you delegate?

In general, attention residue and context switching could reduce your productivity, and if you favour concentrated work, your job satisfaction could suffer as well.

Additionally, make sure you are aware of the evaluation criteria.

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For more than two years, my organisation used the “two teams, distinct domains, one PM” method. It killed me that other teams constructed garbage that other teams had already found solutions to. We are currently dealing with significant tech and UX debt. It exhausted me and made taking time off for important roles almost hard without a lot of preparation.

Years later, if it means anything, we’re finally consolidating into one domain, one larger staff, and one PM.

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I currently have 1:30 spread throughout 3 places, and I’ve sounded many alerts to put a stop to this. We started off small (1:5) and they kept growing. We had a rotating engineer lead the standups, which kept the team interested, and an assigned tech lead who I worked most closely with on strategy/shaping future work. My last team was 1:10 for one area, and it was excellent.