Why be a product manager?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

This is a very important question to ask yourself in the beginning of the way to becoming a PM.
You might see this position as a perfect, glowing, and awarding job with very little disadvantages.

Imagin... :
Highly compensated
Millions of users use your product
Engineering supports every decision you make
Promoted to VP in the future
You are poping new ideas faster than they can be implemented
Satisfied customers

Pufff... let's blow that bubble and take a look at the other side of the coin... :
Engineers are working on other products
Product is "sales-driven"
Authority ?! remove that from your vocabulary
Buggy product
Need to supply answers to the board of managers
Less and less users are using the product
No time to meet friends

My point here is you must know what your are getting into.

Finally, each one has its own reasons but they generally overlap and sum up to:

  • Passion - you must live the product domain to make it good  - I'll get a better Facebook app managed by a Social Networks junkie rather than a Mainframe programmer who never uses open environments.
  • Promotion - you get to manage a wide range of talents and report to the high ranks.
  • Make a change - products in your domain probably exist - make a difference, leave a mark.
  • Technical consultant, less spending time on bugs over bits and bytes - Still... being technical IS your business.
  • Responsibility - if the product sucks and clients are not satisfied, it doesn't matter how good you are.
  • Influence - you decide if it's right or left, blue or pink, night or day.
  • Learn - by now you probably took on specific responsibility positions - now you overlook the whole cycle.
  • Initiate - raise your own ideas, push and bring them to implementation.
  • Satisfaction - you can say "this is mine".