One of the perks of being a product manager is that you get to work and collaborate with different teams in your organisation. You act as a bridge between various parts of the organisation. This aspect of our work is exciting and challenging at the same time. Different teams have their areas of focus. You need to put the jigsaw of expectations together in a way that all stakeholder are in agreement with the direction of the product.
You will find this blog useful if you are starting your career now. It will give you insight into what everyone outside your team does. I’m writing this by using the organisational structure in tech companies and how they structure their team. But it is valid for any other sector as well.
We will learn who the different stakeholders are, what they do and what is the secret behind building a great working relationship with them.
Who is part of the engineering team?
You work together with them to:
Their focus is to make sure that we make the right technical decisions. You will work with them to:
Developers You will work with them to:
They are gatekeepers who make sure that the product adheres to the quality standards set by the team. They are the first people to users of the product/feature. and a great sounding board for new features. Product managers should do regular walkthrough of the product with them. It helps find missed use cases in requirements.
They lead the initiative of helping the company build an agile mindset. You will work with them to find ways to improve the development process and reduce the number of roadblocks for the engineering team.
What is the best way for product managers to work with the engineering team?
A common theme you will find in this blog is the need to communicate. You can never do enough of it. It is our job as product managers to make sure that the development team has insight into why things are being done a certain way. For example:
You might need to stop work on one feature and jump on something else. Make sure you give the business context behind such changes to the engineering team.
Not all bugs are worth fixing. Come up with a bug triage process with the engineering team that makes it clear on what to fix and what not
Consult the development team during all stages of product development life cycle. A great working relationship with them goes a long way in achieving product goals.
The design team works to build a user experience that is intuitive and easy to use. You will work with different members of this team to solve usability issues in your product. In smaller companies designers and product managers might be one team.
Who is part of the design team?
They spend majority of their time talking to users to understand their, needs, wants, drivers and goals. Their research forms the foundation of the design principles that drive the design philosophy of the company. It helps the company make the right design decisions. They might use different methods to conduct their research like:
Some methods might be more effective with your users than others.
They create user interphases that are based on the findings of the UX researcher. Using it they build customer centric designs that enable users to easily solve their problems using the product. You work with them to take an idea through different stages of the product lifecycle.
How do product managers to work with their design counterparts
What users say and what they do is always different! Product managers and their design counterparts have to work together to build a robust understanding of users. For example you might run focus groups or build surveys together to better understand the users psyche.
It can be frustrating when the design is bound by technical limitations. I have seen that happen a lot if times. As a product manager you have to make efforts to provide designers a canvas that allows them to express their creativity.
Who is part of the sales team?
The sales team structure vary depending on the sales strategy. You could see yourself working with:
Direct Sales/Inbound Sales Rep
They work to convert leads that come through the marketing team into paying customers.
Channel Sales/Enterprise Sales Rep
They work with implementation partners on enterprise sales opportunities.
In teams that sell technical products, sales engineers work with potential customers. They demo the product to them, build up use cases of how customer problems can be solved by the product.
How do product managers work with the sales team?
The sales team is your window into what prospects(future customers) are looking for. You need to document all the feedback from prospects and analysis it to find gaps in your offering.
Working towards meeting quotas and monthly targets can be challenging. You will at some point in your career be in a situation where you can’t build the feature your team wants to close a deal. These conversations can be tough. Knowing how to tackle them is important. We wrote a blog “Saying No as a Product Manager” to help you prepare for it!
The marketing team focusses on messaging, customer communication and lead generation. They run marketing programs-email, social, events etc. to drive awareness about the product.
Who is part of the marketing team?
Email marketing manager
Their focus is on email conversion. They work to improve email metrics like open rate, click rate and click through rates of email. They use marketing automation software like Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua or Salesforce Marketing Cloud for running various email campaigns and a/b tesitng the right messaging for the product
Digital Marketing manager
They work to optimise the digital channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn to drive growth. They work to increase organic and paid traffic on the company site to generate leads. They use tools like google adwords, ahref’, semrush, buzzsumo to setup campaigns and analyse their success.
How do product managers work with the marketing team?
You will collaborate with the marketing team to:
Who is part of the customer success team?
This team consists of a number of customer success associates and a manager. It leads the charge in:
How do product managers work with the customer success team?
The customer success team is a treasure trove of information and as a PM you can learn a lot from them. For example:
This is the team that deals with unhappy customers and always in the line of fire. To manage the craziness they often divide it into different levels of support:
What is the structure of support teams?
How do product managers work with support team?
You work with them to figure out:
After reading you might feel that I have listed down all the teams that exist in most organisation. It is true! As a product manager stakeholder management is an important part of your job.
You will not be able to solve every product problem that your stakeholders bring up.
You will become a great product manager if you are able to: