Product managers are not necessary, right?

I’ve always been curious at my work profile which includes coordinating between the internal teams, the stakeholders and of course the customer or the client. Would the product development and delivery be affected much without a PM? Can’t UX, Engineering and Business talk directly to each other?
What do y’all think about this?

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Product Managers play an integral role in the success of any business. They are essential in helping companies identify customer needs, develop strategies for bringing products to market, and continually adapt their processes to ensure success. Product Managers are not only necessary for product development but also for the organization’s overall growth and success. How can one think about developing or launching a product without a Product Manager?

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Quite agree with @GaryHouston. Product Managers help define the company’s mission and values. The main responsibilities of Product Managers include: - Market research and market validation-Product planning and forecasting-Cost estimating, budgeting and resource allocation-Designing product packaging, marketing materials and websites-Idea generation for new products, services or offerings -Sourcing materials and components-Product quality control-Managing costs, timelines, vendor relations and pricing-Developing and driving revenue growth.

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Product managers can play a valuable role in coordinating and aligning the efforts of different teams and stakeholders. They can help ensure that everyone is working towards a shared vision and that the product meets the needs of the user and the business.

Effective communication is important for any team, but it can be especially challenging in larger organizations or when working with people from different disciplines who may have different goals and perspectives. A product manager can help facilitate communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

That being said, the specific role of a product manager and the level of coordination needed may vary depending on the size and complexity of the product and the organization. In some cases, it may be possible for UX, engineering, and business to communicate directly with each other and for the product to be successful without a dedicated product manager. However, in many cases, having a product manager can help ensure that the product is successful and that the various teams are working effectively together.

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Product management involves talking to consumers to determine problems, then using politics to persuade everyone in the organisation to actually create something that answers the problem. It also involves handling all the director-level nonsense and toxic interteam interactions.

Sales don’t comprehend why you won’t build their very critical feature, C-level doesn’t understand developers and UX, Marketing doesn’t understand why something they casually mentioned hasn’t been implemented yet, UX doesn’t understand why developers can’t apply their mental design, and developers don’t understand why they need to implement specific functionality or meet deadlines. The customer support team doesn’t understand why they are always at the back of the line for internal features, and finance doesn’t comprehend why maintaining all these services costs so much. the list is endless.

Please try handling all of those interpersonal dynamics without a product manager present.

Small businesses and startups can get away with it, but it’s increasingly necessary for everyone else in tech.

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I’ll take the opposing side here for a while. I completely agree with you on many of your points, however I’ve worked with a variety of businesses and teams over the years, and I’ve seen plenty of non-product managers that can accomplish many of those tasks. Particularly at bigger businesses that have taken the time to set up the appropriate product and tech organizational structures.

Organizations may not have known how to prioritize inside a defined framework, conduct research, produce product briefs, etc. ten years ago when “product” wasn’t as popular. However, many product activities have now become commodities. In other words, you can earn an MBA and acquire a senior PM job at a major IT company. You can use any of the many frameworks and lead a workshop or exercise to go through it if you are skilled at facilitation.

Referring to your earlier example of talking to consumers Yes, PMs should carry out this (in addition to your dozens of other responsibilities). However, the majority of such research effort is typically performed by UX researchers or product designers in larger organizations or customer-focused startups. My suspicion is that since many of the UX researchers and designers I deal with have degrees in service design and genuine doctorates in human-computer interaction, they’ll produce better journey maps and more accurate insights and 5-whys research guides than I ever could (or would want to).

Since many aspects of stakeholder management, communication, etc. aren’t exclusive to product management, I’ve seen a number of “non-PMs” advance to the position. Heck, a skilled product manager can accomplish many of those tasks. Their responsibility is to really move through difficult cross-functional workstreams, assist in managing dependencies and risks, and work toward timely delivery.

Or in terms of engineering, time constraints, and speed. Yes, a strong PO or hands-on PM contributes to this, but so may a skilled scrum master or a capable engineering lead. I’ve seen organizations where designers or engineers contribute to the creation of user stories. Writing stories was essentially what business analysts did in the past.

In the end, everyone must prioritize making decisions based on their area of expertise because they all have tasks to complete. Design must concentrate on and make design-related decisions. Engineering must concentrate on and make engineering-related decisions. Additionally, in order for everything to function, someone must be able to comprehend all the additional inputs from every workstream and data point and make the final decision. That is the PM.

So yes, all the optics and influence stuff are important in my opinion, but the difficult part of PM is deciding where the teams should focus and making the right decisions (or the best decisions at the time), and if the right decisions aren’t made, having the plans and skills to guide the team to that destination.

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Welcome to Prowess community @KaneMorgan.

@Pankaj-Jain, I concur with both the post you are responding to and with you. The major lesson, in my opinion, is that we must assume responsibility for the result; it cannot solely rest with engineering or user experience (most of the time).

I want to give designers and engineers as much freedom as possible to complete the task as efficiently as possible. I mostly provide some procedure to keep things organized and some early alignment to prevent us from going in the wrong direction.

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I currently work in a startup without a PM. We struggle quite a bit. Would be nice to have the middle ground where everyone can bitch and still feel heard.

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Without Product Managers the Engineers wouldn’t have time to code and the designers wouldn’t have time to design. PMs allow those in highly skilled positions to do what they do best while they focus on everything else.

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Yes, that is one way to think about the role of a product manager. By taking on responsibilities that are outside of the core expertise of the engineering and design teams, product managers can help to free up time and resources for those teams to focus on what they do best.

For example, a product manager might be responsible for gathering and synthesizing customer feedback, conducting market research, or defining the product roadmap. This allows the engineers and designers to focus on building and refining the product, rather than spending time on tasks that are outside of their area of expertise.

Additionally, product managers can help to ensure that the work being done by the engineering and design teams is well-aligned with the overall business goals and objectives. By working closely with these teams and helping to define clear goals and priorities, product managers can help to ensure that the product is being developed in a way that is most likely to achieve success.

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How do designers and engineers know what to work on?

The best PMs aren’t there to organize work for others, they are there to set the strategic direction of the product and ensure it delivers maximum value to the business and its customers.

If you’re asking if they are unnecessary in an organization where PMs aren’t allowed to do that - maybe, although the PO role still frees up the time of others. But IME they aren’t high performing businesses (unless they are small enough the CEO can allocate their time effectively and be hands on in defining what the product should be.)

I’m not even that good at PO tasks, I find them a pain in the ass. Generally, my squad shares a bit of the burden in writing tickets, keeping the backlog organized etc.

What I am good at is working out what to do in the short, medium and long term, communicating that upward, downward and sideways and getting everybody bought into it. I’m then very good at analyzing performance and knowing what to measure and making sure we’re making continual improvements that add serious value to the product and business.

I truly believe that the best PMs are extremely entrepreneurial. They might not be needed if you have an abundance of entrepreneurship on the rest of the squad but I don’t think that’s common.

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Engineer here… I have no problem with talking to UX and designers. I don’t want to talk to anyone in business that doesn’t have the title “product manager” or similar. People in sales or really specific industry roles don’t understand technology and don’t understand why we can’t just do something like have a team of 4 people build excel in a web browser. “Well Google did it.”

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Welcome to the community @KaneMorgan.
Absolutely agree with @AnthonySmith, there is no risk that the business will give the wrong information to engineering or that engineers will create exactly what is requested, even if it doesn’t address an issue. When the engineering team decides it’s “good enough, the customer can read the help text” (which doesn’t exist but no one thought to tell the doc writers the setting was being added so the doc never got written), UX can absolutely explain to engineering why having an important setting 17 clicks deep in a menu is a bad idea. Furthermore, the Company may be relied upon to avoid providing clients with approximate dates as formal, irrevocable commitments.

None of it has a chance of happening without a PM.

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Can’t Engineering create wireframes and talk to business directly?

Can’t Business write code directly?

Cant customers just solve their own problems??? :sunglasses:

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@AhmadBashir, Funny enough, I work somewhere where there is a business-applications joint team that has the staffing to develop prototype solutions.

After a prototype is made, it’s basically submitted along with a user story that the PM then runs with the back of house engineering team.

It works really well in a specialized medical/engineering/scientific field when your PMs don’t have the depth of knowledge to effectively interface with specialized clients (orthopedic surgeons, utility IT experts, whatever).

In this case, they own the roadmap and prioritization of that first prototype along with the process of making it a stable and scalable solution with the engineering team with the overall platform in mind

In this unique org, if the business team didn’t have the ability to make their own functional prototypes, the product / engineering team would be drowning in requests that they didn’t understand, and nothing would get delivered. We tried a traditional model, and it just didn’t work - there are little to no PMs capable of performing in a traditional PM org structure and effectively interfacing with clients in this specific corner of my industry.

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This is sort of like asking can you build a house without a general contractor. I mean the framers, window installers, electricians, plumbers, concrete masons, siding installers, carpenters, trim guys, painters, etc. could all just talk directly to the architect.

Of course, the architect would have no time to design the next structure. . .

A good general contractor will know and understand both the design side and the contractor side, even if s/he is not necessarily an expert in any one area. S/he lays out the plan for who completes what and when and works with the customer to identify and address any shortcomings in either the design or the build and then pulls in the right people to get the job done.

Could a house be built without a general contractor? Sure, but it will be something small and simple. The larger and more complex the effort, the more that the general contractor is needed.

All of this is just addressing the tactical aspects as well. A product manager, unlike most general contractors, has a vision for where the software will go over time. Do we build multi-tenant, or single tenant some physical separation? Do we partner with Adobe or Microsoft for piece x? How do we price and license the software, etc.? This last piece might fall to marketing, but the PM is usually invoked in that process.

A PM in many aspects is a product CEO, responsibilities are in line with that.