Resources / blog

Don't let other departments hide their headcount in your budget

open Don't let other departments hide their headcount in your budget.—Steve Johnson, Under 10 Consulting.

I'm often asked how large a product management team should be. And my reply is, "how many other departments are relying on product management to provide expertise?"

Marketing and sales people rely on product management for technical expertise; developers rely on product management for market expertise. Now those departments could increase their expertise through hiring or training. I mean, shouldn't the marketing and sales teams know how the product solves customer problems? Or they should hire product marketing managers and sales engineers who do. And perhaps the development group needs to hire business or product analysts to provide expertise to their teams. And if those skills are not available in the departments, product management needs to be expanded to support each department's expertise needs.

The more product management provides support for other departments, the more they get pulled into tactical activities to the detriment of the strategic aspects of product management. Because executives typically rely on product management for business expertise—the long-term planning of roadmaps and markets and financials.

How big should your product management team be? It is typical to see a strategic product manager at the portfolio level, a technical product manager (or product owner) with one or two products, and a product marketing manager (or market owner) with five or six products. Of course, this is all contingent on how big the products are.

For more on product management staffing, see my free ebook "Expertise in Product Management" at

Return to Blogs