Although the discipline of product management continues to be more and more critical to technology companies with each passing year, I still find that many people in the corporate world do not understand the function. First, there are those who believe product management has all the power in the organization. But in many technology companies especially smaller ones, I find this is not really the case. Often product management has the accountability of owning the P&L, but has very little empowerment to shift resources, budgets or timelines in other departments. Second, there are those who believe product managers need to own every detail of the product – from problems with the billing system to limitations in off-hours support. While product managers should set the direction and help to resolve issues, the product will never be successful if the functional groups within an organization don’t take ownership over issues in their respective areas.
And finally, there are those who simply question why we need product management at all – such as the infamous “Bobs” from the movie Office Space. The clip below reflects the challenge many product managers face when attempting to explain the importance of their role!