What Product Management Is Not

I find that many companies remain stuck in old, failed models of product management, and don’t always realize how important role definition is to building effective teams and successful products. In several articles I’ve tried to explain what the role of the product...

Product Management Models Part 2

In a recent article (The Best Product Management Model) I discussed the notion that there is no single best product management model, and that the most effective model for a given company depends on a wide range of factors. I received several comments from people...

Are You Technical Enough?

I’ve written earlier about how much domain experience is important for product managers (The Role of Domain Experience) and also the pros and cons of college hires versus hiring experience (Youth vs. Experience), but a question I often get is just how much...

The Best Product Management Model?

One question I get quite frequently is “Google is making boatloads of money, so how can we do product management like Google?” Or another common variant is “Apple creates fantastic products. How can we do product management like Apple?” You can understand why some...

The Role of the CEO

This article is from an interview I did recently with a long-time friend and serial entrepreneur Danny Shader. We were talking about what makes a great CEO of a product company, and I loved what he had to say. I first worked with Danny at Netscape. After Netscape, he...

Product Management in an Agile Environment

Many software product teams are either currently experimenting with Agile methods, or have recently moved. I have written elsewhere about the benefits of Agile methods, including Scrum and XP, but I wanted to highlight here the keys for product management in an Agile...

Product Management vs. Engineering

If a great product is the result of combining a real customer need with a solution that’s just now possible, then it’s easy to see why the relationship between the product manager and the engineering team is so critical. The product manager is responsible for defining...

Personas for Product Management

Product management is all about choices. Making decisions about what opportunities are worth chasing, which problems are worth solving, what features will provide the most value, what the best time-to-market trade-offs are, and which customers are most important....

Product Management vs. Project Management

Earlier I’ve written about how important it is to clearly distinguish the roles of product management and product marketing (see Product Management vs. Product Marketing). But many companies suffer from a related problem, which is when the roles of product management...

Prototype Testing

Readers of these articles know that I view the high-fidelity prototype as the primary means of describing the product to be built. I have written elsewhere why a prototype is significantly more useful to the product team than the typical paper-based specification....

Product Discovery

Have you seen this situation before? Your company gets all excited about a product idea, and as product manager you are asked to define it. You are told that the engineers will be finished with their current project in 4 weeks, so that means take all the time you...

Recruiting Product Managers

Probably the single most common question I get from CEO’s is where to find great product managers? I tell them that often they’re already in their organization, hiding under a different title – maybe a software engineer, designer, or an SE, just...

Managing Product Managers

In my last article (Product Management vs. Product Marketing) I discussed why product management is very different from product marketing, and how critical it is to have capable product managers. The note seemed to strike a chord in that a record number of you wrote...

Product Management vs. Product Marketing

Industry pundits claim that 9 out of 10 product releases are failures in that they don’t meet their goals. I don’t know if that’s the exact stat or not, but I bet it’s not far off. I do believe strongly that most releases are ill-conceived. Countless release cycles...

Product Management vs. Product Marketing

Industry pundits claim that 9 out of 10 product releases are failures in that they don’t meet their goals. I don’t know if that’s the exact stat or not, but I bet it’s not far off. I do believe strongly that most releases are ill-conceived. Countless release cycles...

Charter Customer Programs

Recently Microsoft launched what may prove to be a very significant technology for those of us that build rich Internet applications. You can learn about this at www.microsoft.com/silverlight <http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight> . But this note isn’t really...

Lessons From Apple Part 2

Earlier I wrote about general lessons from Apple, but now that i’ve had my iPhone for a couple of weeks, I thought I’d talk about some of the lessons from this new product. I believe there’s much to learn (good and bad) from virtually every new...

Estimating Project Costs

Even though we’ve been estimating project costs since the beginning of software, it’s remarkable to me how much confusion remains. I think the root cause of this confusion is that management needs cost information very early in the process, yet engineering...

Make a Friend in Finance

How many of you understand the economics of your product? Do you know your exact revenue model? Do you know the total costs of your product? Do you know how much you pay for each new customer? Do you know their lifetime value to the company? Do you know the return...

Build New or Fix Old?

Often I’m asked what the right balance is between new product development and investing in improving existing products. I suppose it’s natural for companies to want to have some sort of percentage guideline, but I try to get companies to think about these investments...