Chapter 71. The Product Manager’s Concerns

Travis Donia

As an engineering leader, you can improve the quality of the product you deliver by helping your team interface effectively with product managers (PMs). To do this it helps to open a dialog with the PM about their requests. Here are some common concerns they have and ways to open up a conversation about them.

Users

A core responsibility of the PM is to know what’s important to the user, so it’s normal for them to come to you excited at having just learned something about the users. They want to reflect that feedback in the product. As a manager, it’s helpful for you to dig into why they’re excited so that you can transmit it to your team. Understanding where the feedback came from and how they intend to make your users’ lives better will also help you to make sure the implementation delivers the impact the PM is excited about.

Money

What a feature will cost and how much revenue potential it has are the basis for forecasting the return a PM will get from an investment of your team’s attention. The expected return on investment (ROI) is one of the most basic ways a product manager can prioritize. Often, this is expressed in terms of effort. Asking, “How much effort is X versus Y versus Z and what will I get out of them?” can be a proxy for, “I want all three, but I know I have to fit inside a budget and hit a target.” ...

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