Being a Product Manager for an Inc 500 SaaS company has been both fulfilling and incredibly challenging.
I was asked once if there was another position in the company I would like to have… honestly, there is no better position than Product Manager. I suspect that Product Managers at other software companies agree. If you're wondering what a Product Manager does, the job descriptions vary widely from company to company.
At some businesses, a Product Manager literally directs and owns his/her product and is accountable for the success or failure of that Product. At my work, a Product Manager guides, prioritizes, and helps to design features and fixes in the area of the application he/she is responsible.
Silence is Golden
Success can't always be measured directly in dollars and cents. It is often measured in silence. Dollars and cents will tell you how competitive your features are in the industry, but silence is the internal measure of success:
- Silence from Development Teams who read your Requirements and Use Cases and are able to understand and implement them.
- Silence from Marketing Teams who recognize your product's value and can illustrate it in material.
- Silence from Sales Teams who are busy selling to prospects who need your features.
- Silence from Implementation Teams who have to explain your features and implement them with new customers.
- Silence from Customer Service Teams who have to answer the phone calls and explain problems or challenges associated with your features.
- Silence from Product Operation Teams who have to deal with the demands that your features put on the Servers and Bandwidth.
- Silence from Leadership Teams who aren't interrupted by key clients complaining about your decisions.
Silence often goes Unrewarded
The problem with silence, of course, is that no one notices it. Silence can't be measured. Silence often doesn't get you bonuses or promotions. I've been through multiple major releases now and have been blessed with silence. Each of the features I worked with Development Teams to design and implement have resulted in additional sales and no increase in customer service issues.
I've never been recognized for this… but I'm okay with that! I'm more confident in my abilities than I've ever been. If the tail end is silence, I can assure you there's a lot more noise on the front-end. Being a successful Product Manager requires incredible passion and demands in the planning stages of releases and roadmaps. As a Product Manager, you often find yourself at odds with other Product Managers, Leaders, Developers, and even with Clients.
If you don't stand by your analysis and decisions, you may risk your clients, your prospects, and the future of your company and products. If you simply say yes to leadership demands or developer demands, you can destroy your clients' user experience. Often you can find yourself even at odds with your own boss and colleagues.
Product Management is not a job for everyone!
That's a lot of pressure and it requires people that can work through that pressure and make the tough decisions. It's not easy to look people in the face and tell them you're moving in a different direction and why. It requires strong leaders that will back you up and hold you accountable for the success or failures of your product. Leaders who put their trust in you to make the appropriate decisions.
It also requires an appreciation for silence.