Listen to the Interview
Are you like other product managers and innovators? Do you spend your time like most do? Are the challenges you encounter different from other product managers? These types of questions are explored each year in the Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey. I explored the results of last year’s survey on The Everyday Innovator, and it is time to do it again for the 2017 survey.
My guest is returning for a second time to tell us about the pulse of product management as indicated by the survey. She is Rebecca Kalogeris, Vice President of Marketing for Pragmatic Marketing. Before joining Pragmatic Marketing, Rebecca managed product management and marketing teams at a variety of software companies. Among her marketing responsibilities is pouring through the survey results of the annual study, so she is the perfect person to discuss the state of product management with.
In the interview, you’ll discover:
- Who do product managers tend to report to,
- How many product managers organizations generally have,
- The key challenges product managers face, and
- What would make product managers more effective.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
- What did you learn about the average respondent who participated in the survey? We had over 3500 respondents. 61% were male. The majority are 35-44 years old and have been in the industry for 6+ years. They are well educated, with over 98% having Bachelor’s degrees and over 40% have graduate degrees. On average, they are working on 3 products at a time.
- Who do product managers report to in organizations? 58% report to what they consider a product management department or directly to the CEO of the organization. 15% are reporting to Marketing and 10% report to a Development/Engineering function. They salespeople as more autonomous in organizations than other roles.
- How many product managers do organizations tend to have? For every one product manager, these organizations represented in the survey had just over nine developers and they had just over eight salespeople. For every one product marketing manager there are two product managers. Those ratios have been rather consistent for several surveys.
- What did you learn about how product managers spend their time? We saw consistently that they want to spend their time on the strategic activities, but where they do spend their time is on tactical activities. 72% of their time is spent on tactical activities. On average, they’re spending 40 hours a month on meetings — that’s a full work week each month in meetings. In addition to that, they spend 32 hours managing emails each month.
- What are the key challenges product managers face? 34% indicated they are delivering features that are not used by customers. Imagine what a product team and developers could do if they were not wasting time creating unused features. Closely related, 35% must commit to adding features a sales person promised in order to close a sale. 42% said they have difficulty adding new features because customers demand support for old features. That is technical debt in products. Another challenge is the 46% who reported that salespeople request customized sales tools on an account by account basis. This all adds up to a lot of one-off support that does not lead to a real plan for growing a product.
- What do product managers say would make them more effective? They want a budget dedicated to strategic activities. This includes travel and customer research. They would do more (or some) customer visits. They also want organizational alignment and understanding around the role of product management. They spend too much time explaining what they do and dealing with overlap as well as underlap. It causes tension and wasted time.
Useful links for product managers:
- Pragmatic Marketing’s 17th Annual Product Management and Marketing Survey Results
“Innovation is saying no to a 1000 things.” – Steve Jobs
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.