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New titles for organizing product management

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Lately, I've been recommending some new titles for product managers. A "product owner" (sometimes called a technical product manager) should be near their development or engineering team; a "market owner" (sometimes called a product marketing manager) should be near the markets they serve. Most of all, a "business owner" (aka strategic product manager) should be near the executives.

The job of product owner is to keep development optimized with market and business information. Engineers don’t want to be making business decisions—that's why they want instant access to a product owner. The product owner is best assigned to one product and to no more than two project teams.

An engineering team that stays together works better than a constantly changing group of individuals. Over time, we learn how to work together and learn to trust one another. So thinking of engineers as interchangeable is a flawed concept. Sure, team composition can change over time but they shouldn't constantly be changing.

A new role for many firms is the market owner. This person understands their markets, segments, and personas—and should be the first point of contact for marketing and sales teams for product information. The market owner delivers prioritized market requirements to the business owner who assigns them to the appropriate product.

Who is focused on the strategic aspects of the product?The business owner is focused on the strategic aspects of the product within the portfolio. This is a political job that requires face time with the executive team. What business are we in? What markets will we serve? Should we invest in this portfolio or that one? Should we retire the old stuff and invest in new stuff?

Ideally, the product owner and market owner should report to the business owner so all their objectives are in alignment. It’s confusing to everyone when different VPs are providing different goals.

You can learn more about the roles of product management in my free ebook, "Expertise in Product Management." Want to define a world-class product management team? Start with an assessment of your current state.

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