MANAGING THE BUSINESS OF SOFTWARE

What are common job titles and responsibilities for successful product management teams?

The most common format I see for successful teams is comprised of three roles: a strategic product manager, one or more technical product owners, and a market-facing product marketing manager. Many teams also have a UX designer so all the necessary skills reside in one group with aligned perspectives. This organizational approach has the added benefit of being able to expand easily. That is, this type of product management team includes the necessary expertise to handle a few products (or a single portfolio) without relying on other teams to fill a skills void. As the company expands, you can add similar teams to meet the expanded requirements of additional products.

When organizing product management, look for ways to ensure shared goals. Typically, the product manager is focused on strategy while the product owner is focused on technology. It can be difficult if the product manager, product owner, and product marketing manager are in different departments with differing departmental goals.

Here are some draft job descriptions for each of the key roles.

Each requires some modification to fit the needs your organization.

PRODUCT MANAGER

Product managers ar first and foremost business leaders. They propose new products based on a deep understanding of the market, research and analyze the business and competitive aspects of new offerings, and empower other teams to build a suite of products and services that solve real customer problems.

Description

As a Product Manager, you will lead a team that is charged with a product contribution to a Line of Business (LOB). You will guide products from the idea stage to full production, and help to develop new ideas based on your industry experience and your contact with customers. Your primary focus will be delivering products that are valued by our customers.

You must have expertise in business with a big-picture vision and the drive to make that vision a reality. You must enjoy spending time with customers to understand their problems and enjoy working with technical teams to develop innovative solutions. You'll need to be able to speak truth to power, supporting your decisions with data. 

Responsibilities

  • Develop and maintain a product roadmap of releases, initiatives and epics
  • Work with leadership to align product plans with portfolio vision and architectural epics
  • Work with branding and marketing teams to help them understand the key personas and product capabilities
  • Work closely with release management and system teams to define architecture, user experience, and innovative product capabilities
  • Work with account holders and line-of-business leaders to validate concepts, themes, vision, and prototypes
  • Specify requirements for current and future products supported by market research and on-going interaction with both customers and non-customers
  • Balance priorities between maintenance requirements, architecture, and new features
  • Develop and maintain program objectives and success measurements (KPIs) such as new account holder acquisition and retention
  • Define the planned date and content for a product release to account holders
  • Participate in release and product retrospectives with system teams
  • Focus on product deliverables for the next 3 to 6 months

Requirements

  • 3+ years of software product management experience
  • Strong analytical mindset
  • Knowledgeable in technology
  • Experience with [domain] a strong plus
  • MBA desired
  • This position requires travel to customer sites (30%)
  • Scrum Product Owner Certification or Scrummaster Certification desired

PRODUCT OWNER

Product owners develop a deep understanding of the product and its technical capabilities; they achieve this by working with the product, by discussing it with customers and colleagues, and by keeping current on the industry. For a product owner, the product almost becomes their personal hobby. 

Description

As product owner, you will be dedicated to a product team, serving as the customer representative in all team meetings. Your primary focus will be delivering releases that are feature-complete and timely.

The product owner is the member of the team responsible for both defining and prioritizing the release backlog. You will work closely with the team to define architecture, user experience, and product capabilities. The product owner has final authority representing the customer’s interest in backlog prioritization and requirements questions.

The product owner must be available to the team at any time, particularly during the sprint planning meeting and the sprint review meeting. In addition, the product owner has a significant role in quality, and is the only team member empowered to accept new stories into the release backlog.

The product owner reports to a product manager and will take direction from the product roadmap to guide the product releases and iterations.

Responsibilities

  • Serve as the customer representative in all team meetings
  • Accountable for maximizing the value of the release
  • Participate in product planning and forecasts with the product management team
  • Contribute to the product backlog and roadmap
  • Maintain and prioritize the release backlog
  • Define the date and content for a release
  • Create and maintain business and user persona definitions
  • Define user stories and acceptance criteria for product capabilities, as well as elaborating stories on a just-in-time basis with the team
  • Develop and maintain technical success measurements (KPIs) such as reduced defects and reduced customer complaints.
  • Accept stories into the release backlog and accept the completion of each iteration
  • Attend daily stand-ups and other status meetings
  • Maintain and report product status such as burn up/burn down and velocity charts
  • Participate in sprint retrospectives with the agile team
  • Focus on release deliverables for the next 3 to 6 weeks

Requirements

  • 1+ years of technical product management or business analyst experience.
  • Knowledgeable in technology.
  • Experience with [domain] a strong plus.
  • Computer Science or Engineering degree or work experience a plus.
  • This position requires limited travel to customer sites (20%).
  • Scrum Product Owner Certification or Scrummaster Certification desired.

PRODUCT MARKETING MANAGER

Product marketing managers are focused on markets, either vertical or geographic. They use their market expertise to empower product management, marketing, and sales with the requirements and language of their market, and they serve as the chief liaison from the market to the company. The product marketing manager focuses on sales enablement and go-to-market planning so that when the product is delivered, there are people who want to buy it.

Description

As a product marketing manager, you will be the internal advocate for the needs of your market and the external evangelist of our products to the market. You’ll research your market, forecast its size and expected growth, document its requirements, and champion the market in all go-to-market decisions. As a product marketing manager, you’ll work with marketing communications to deliver tools that empower sales teams and customers.

You must have market expertise and the passion to bring our products to your market. You will spend time with customers to understand their evolving needs. You must enjoy working with marketing and sales teams to deliver the tools necessary for market success.

Responsibilities

  • Evangelize products to your market
  • Research market requirements and forecasts for new portfolio opportunities
  • Maintain product success metrics for your market
  • Document and maintain key competitor profiles
  • Recommend market-specific enhancements for all portfolio products
  • Define and socialize target market segments and personas
  • Research and document the buyer’s journey
  • Analyze sales win and loss data to refine the sales playbook
  • Develop market-specific launch criteria for new product introduction
  • Work with branding and marketing teams to help them understand the key market personas and product capabilities
  • Work with product management and technical teams to help them understand the critical product stories for your market
  • Work with sales and account teams to document the buying process and identify key sales enablement tools
  • Provide product and domain content focused on the market

Requirements

  • 5 years of experience in product management or marketing
  • Proven ability to communicate with customers, sales people, and executives
  • Strong analytical mindset
  • Knowledgeable in technology
  • Experience with our domain a strong plus
  • MBA desired
  • This position requires travel to customer sites (30%)


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