27 Sep 16 Industry Insights
Before I joined recruitment I worked in retail and had no idea about anything to do with technology. Having now spent a year speaking to hundreds of people, reading numerous blogs and generally exploring the tech market I honestly don’t know how I managed before, because now I realise it is probably the most fascinating industry in the world.
Along with this lack of awareness of the tech market came a complete absence of understanding technology led roles – what on earth is React? Seriously, there’s different languages that you code in? What is Scrum, I thought that was a rugby term?
From the beginning of my recruitment journey there was one position that really stood out to me and that was the role of the Product Manager. But what exactly does the Product Manager do and where do they fit within the Scrum team? This blog will explore the fundamentals of the job, and what I’ve learnt during my experience with numerous Product Managers.
So firstly what exactly is a Product Manager? In basic terms, the Product Manager is responsible for the end to end delivery of the product and once the product is launched they go on to manage, enhance the product and iteratively release front end features. This means they release features quickly as soon as they are ready rather than waiting until everything is ready to do one big release.
I actually met a Product Manager not too long ago who works on an app that I use on a daily basis and has literally transformed my life. It felt like I had met a celeb; while she hadn’t physically built the app, she had written the plan for the product (roadmap), decided on which direction the app would go and ultimately thought about the customer (me) experience and what they want and this is what a Product Manager does.
So how do they fit into a Scrum team? I have never worked in a Scrum team, attended a stand up or been a part of delivering a product. However, I speak to hundreds of people that do exactly that and to be honest, there are a lot of different opinions on this subject. You can frame it as a sort of Venn diagram where the Product Manager is at centre of the business, the developers and the customer.
Firstly, the Product Manager is the “voice of the customer”; they can see beyond the code and can empathise with the end user. A good Product Manager will always keep the customer at the forefront of their mind and decide on important decisions with this in mind. For example, I once spoke to someone who was working on an app where the statistics were showing that customers were only spending an average of 3 seconds on the app (obviously not as long as one may have wanted). It turned out that the app was opening far too slowly and customers were getting bored and not waiting it out. This led the Product Manager to write in a redevelopment of the app on android into the roadmap and the customer retention went from 3 seconds to 5 minutes. A prime example of the role of the PM.
In terms of working with the Development Team, it is key that the Product Manager understands and motivates the Developers. They could not produce the product without the help of the developers so it is imperative that they work efficiently together and this is why they need to be integrated into the Scrum teams. Not only this, but it is also extremely important that the product roadmap gets translated correctly with the user stories being written properly. It’s really interesting when you hear horror stories from people who have worked in teams where the PM isn’t integrated directly into the Scrum teams…
In terms of the business, the Product Manager must be able to meet self-defined KPI’s, they need to use this to manage stakeholders throughout the business. On top of this, a recurring trait in successful Product Managers is the ability to say “no” (in a professional and understandable way of course) as they don’t want to over promise and under deliver!
It seems to me that key to the success of any product is a Scrum team that understand the importance of each role within the Scrum. Each role is paramount to the functioning of a product, and just as important as their peers and without one of these essential cogs the product would be an absolute disaster.
However you perceive the Scrum team and the role of the PM it is an essential piece of the puzzle. If you would like to discuss this further or tell me your thoughts please do not hesitate to get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all our other roles click here.
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