Product Management
102
How to Transition from a Technical Background
Bruce McCarthy
Chief Product Person, UpUp Labs
Questions
Challenges for techies
Breaking into Product Management
Listening to customers effectively
Collaborating with other depart...
What is Product Management?
Why do companies hire
us?
Responsible for success or
failure of products
Get the greatest return on the
investment
Deliver...
We Look for Opportunity

Market
Needs

Value
Business Technology
UX
UX
Sales
Sales

Eng
Eng

BD
BD

Services
Services

Finance
Finance

Marketing
Marketing

HR
HR
UX
UX
Sales
Sales

Eng
Eng

Services
Services

Profitably Deliver Superior
Value to Your Selected
Customers

Finance
Finan...
You Are The
Quarterback
Set product goals
Set development priorities
Drive consensus
Define requirements
Test & iterate
Co...
Product Management Is
NOT
Project Management
Program Management
Scrum Master
Services
QA
Documentation
Partnerships

PRODUCT
STRATEGY

EOL

Acquisitions

Finance

Pricing

PRODUCT
MARKETIN
G

PRODUCT
MANAGEMEN
T
Analysts

OEM...
PRODUCT
STRATEGY

Customer
PRODUCT
MANAGEM
ENT

PRODUCT
MARKETIN
G
PRODUCT
STRATEGY

PRODUCT
OWNER
75% Internal
Agile Stories

PRODUCT
MARKETING

TECHNICAL PM
PRODUCT MANAGEMENT Internal/Ex...
Traits I Look For
Leadership
Communication Skills
Analytical Approach
Business Sense
Market Knowledge
Technical Knowledge
Developing a New Product
Listening is the key
5 levels of “why”
Vectors
Customer/Technical Support
Technical Sales/Sales Engineer
Business Analyst
Subject Matter Expert
Entrepreneur
Inte...
Positioning Your
Experience
Solving customer problems
Understanding the market
Driving business results
Driving consensus
...
Working with Engineering
Remember you are NOT part of the
Engineering team
Tell them “what” and “why,”
but not “how”
I Help Product People
Team coaching via UpUp Labs
Tools: Reqqs - the smart roadmap tool for
product people
Blog: ProductPo...
Transitioning from Tech to Product Management
Transitioning from Tech to Product Management
Transitioning from Tech to Product Management
Transitioning from Tech to Product Management
Transitioning from Tech to Product Management
Transitioning from Tech to Product Management
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Transitioning from Tech to Product Management

1,898 views

Published on

Many product managers have a technical background, but how do you get that first gig? And once you've got the job, what special struggles do technical people have in a role that combines technical with business and customer understanding? Learn from Bruce McCarthy, a 20-year product person who has coached and mentored many technical people to become great at product management.

Not all of the fonts display correctly on Slideshare, so apologies there. Download the slides to see the speaker notes and de-mystify the images!

Published in: Career
0 Comments
3 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,898
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
22
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
81
Comments
0
Likes
3
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Hi, I’m Bruce McCarthy. I’ve started 3 companies, raised money, and been through 3 acquisitions (on both sides of the table). I’ve got 20 years product management experience in roles from PM to Business Development to VP of Product to Chief Product Person at companies from just me to 100k+, including Oracle, ATG, D&B, NetProspex, and now UpUp Labs, where I work with product management teams to provide coaching and tools to help them with their roadmaps.
  • When I was a kid, I wanted to write Science Fiction.
    I still have that enthusiasm for all the cool stuff that technology enables us to do.
    I gave up my dream of being a writer when I figured out how much they generally make.
  • But as a product manager, I get to write scifi anyway. I get to describe things that don’t exist -- and then work with engineers to make what I wrote real.
    This is the AR Drone 2.0 from Parrot. It costs about $400 and I spent weeks playing with it after my very tolerant wife got for me for Christmas. I even annoyed people at work with it. I wasn’t the PM for this, but *someone* was, and it’s way cool.
    Of course, it isn’t all about what would be cool. It’s a little about that, but it’s also about what would be useful to someone and make money for the company.
  • This is what we are all after as a product manager: a delighted customer using our revolutionary product. This is just the best feeling when you know you’ve nailed it. And if you get this right (along with a few other key things we’ll discuss), it’s not that hard to make money.
  • How many here have a technical background?
    How many have worked in technology outside of school at a job?
    How many have experience in product management?
    How many have experience in other non-technical roles?
    What problems have you experienced in making a transition?
  • Which of these should we focus on today?
  • People don’t hire anybody because they need to fill a position. They hire people to make something happen. Holes not drill. I remember when I had my first job as a salesperson. After a few months, my dad asked me if I had paid for myself yet. Huh? Have you figured out whether you’ve increased sales by the amount they pay you yet? Oh.
    What do they want us to make happen?
    Return on the organization’s investment in development. Often a fixed cost, so really it comes down to prioritizing based on ROI. We’ll get into when you need to do a formal business case.
  • As a PM, you are ultimately looking for opportunities in the overlap of:
    Market needs
    Technical feasibility
    A workable business model
    Most technical folks have the green bubble down. Sometimes, though, they get caught up in how cool building things is and they forget about the necessity to make a profit. I think the tech community has gotten this message since the days of Digital Equipment Corp, though, and if they’ve gone and gotten their MBA or worked in a startup, often technical folks have the red bubble handled as well. It’s the blue one that is usually their kryptonite.
    So, how do we learn about market needs?
  • We talk to unhappy people
    And listen for their problems
    If we can solve their problems profitably, we can deliver value
  • To make that happen, we need to bring in the Circle of Value
    Collaborate with Development & UX to solve them
    Make sure there is a viable business there
    Collaborate with Marketing to bring solutions to market
    Help define best practices with Services
    Empower Sales to close business
  • To make that happen, we need to bring in the Circle of Value
    Collaborate with Development & UX to solve them
    Make sure there is a viable business there
    Collaborate with Marketing to bring solutions to market
    Help define best practices with Services
    Empower Sales to close business
  • Have you heard the one about the lost balloonist?
    A man gets lost flying a hot air balloon. He spots a man down below and shouts: "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him nearby, but I don't know where I am."
    The man below says: "You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field.” He also supplies the exact longitude and latitude.
    "You must be an engineer" says the balloonist. "How did you know?" asks the man.
    The balloonist replies, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but your information is useless. In the end, I am still lost."
    The man below says "You must be in marketing." "How did you know?" asks the balloonist.
    The man replies, "you don't know where you are, or where you are going. You have no idea how to keep your promises, and I’ve done everything you asked, but somehow it’s all my fault."
    So, it can be a challenge getting these teams to see eye to eye. Fortunately, there is product management to bridge the gap. That role of synthesizing the differing needs of key stakeholders is core to product management. And it doesn’t stop with these two groups.
  • Q: Do you all feel like QBs? Or sometimes more like the water boy?
    In this workshop we’re going to practice calling plays and throwing the ball, maybe a few play-action fakes and ways to avoid getting sacked. (That one’s important for any employee.)
    An I promise you that if you act like the QB, people will treat you like one. That’s the direction of cause and effect, not the other way around.
  • It’s our job to make sure these things happen in a coordinated fashion, but if we’re doing any of them, we’re filling in for a missing position, and we need to make the cost of that clear.
  • Product Management is often broken up into separate roles for different people. Larger organizations have more specialization, and smaller ones have more of these rolled up into one.
    Product Strategy is about what markets are most attractive and align well with the company strategy. Often a VP of Product or Chief Product Officer will interface with the rest of the executive team and then people in product marketing and management will report to them. This role is also sometimes fulfilled by the CMO.
    Product Marketing works to understand a chosen market, their problems, and how to get the message out to them. They work closely with Sales and provide support for them. They provide the core messaging that Marketing Communications uses to produce materials and promotions.
    Product Management - or what is sometimes called Technical Product Management - collaborates with Development to figure out how to solve market problems in a way that meets the organization’s strategic goals. A more junior person in this role might be called a Business Analyst.
    Asking one person to do all of this well is liking asking for a superhero to swoop in and save the day. It’s an extremely rare person that can excel at all three. Even with 20 years experience, I am more on the upper and right side than on the left. So I look for strong partners on the marketing side to complement my skills.
    And that’s not all! Product people are often asked to handle other areas like those in green.
  • All of these are useful and necessary for a PM to succeed. The top two, however, are the ones that make for great product managers.
    * In some ways, PMs are translators or negotiators for all of the stakeholders for a product. This means they’ve got to have top-notch communication skills to drive consensus among these disparate parties. For customers, they are often there therapists as well, listening closely and trying to solve their problems.
    * An analytical approach is critical to understanding the commonality behind many different requests and which align with strategic goals
    * I look for a focus on ROI - for what sort of work will be worth the effort in business results
    * Market knowledge is useful - and people often get into product management because of their expertise in a particular business.
    * Technical knowledge is useful because it allows the PM to have a good collaborative conversation with engineering.
    OTOH, I’ve listed market knowledge and technical knowledge at the bottom here because - unlike intrinsic things like communications skills and an analytical approach, they can be picked up quickly by a smart person.
  • From a very controversial blog post I wrote called “Don’t hire product managers because they’re technical.”
  • Often I find technical folks jump too quickly to a solution when presented with a problem.
    What often happens is someone asks for a specific feature and the former engineer begins thinking about how they could implement that feature. What they don’t realize is that this feature request is actually the customer’s best guess at a solution to a problem they have that they aren’t telling you about.
    Asking them why they want that feature will help to get at the real problem, and maybe get at a problem that many other customers have. Keep asking why until you get to the real rock-bottom problem so you can go back to your development team and brainstorm the best solution to the most common root problems.
  • Look for “tweener” roles that allow you to straddle business, technical and customer concerns.
    I got into product management via a combination of SME and Entrepreneur.
    One question I am often asked is whether you should get an MBA. I don’t have one, but I got into product management as someone who had started two businesses and had bottom line responsibility. An MBA is more often required now, but I would say it depends on your background. People with a strictly technical background would probably benefit from an MBA. OTOH, customer-facing experience in, say, a sales engineer role, would fill some of that gap, too.
  • If you’ve been able to get some “indirect” PM experience, think about how you can position that on your resume and in your elevator pitch.
    You want to be able to articulate in a few words how you will leverage your experience in your first PM role. These are the kind of “magic phrases” that will get a hiring manager’s attention.
  • Please feel free to contact me about help for your product team or just for yourself.
  • Transitioning from Tech to Product Management

    1. 1. Product Management 102 How to Transition from a Technical Background Bruce McCarthy Chief Product Person, UpUp Labs
    2. 2. Questions
    3. 3. Challenges for techies Breaking into Product Management Listening to customers effectively Collaborating with other departments Working with Engineers
    4. 4. What is Product Management?
    5. 5. Why do companies hire us? Responsible for success or failure of products Get the greatest return on the investment Deliver as much value to customers as possible for the least cost Revenue and profit will follow
    6. 6. We Look for Opportunity Market Needs Value Business Technology
    7. 7. UX UX Sales Sales Eng Eng BD BD Services Services Finance Finance Marketing Marketing HR HR
    8. 8. UX UX Sales Sales Eng Eng Services Services Profitably Deliver Superior Value to Your Selected Customers Finance Finance Marketing Marketing HR HR BD BD
    9. 9. You Are The Quarterback Set product goals Set development priorities Drive consensus Define requirements Test & iterate Communicate the roadmap
    10. 10. Product Management Is NOT Project Management Program Management Scrum Master Services QA Documentation
    11. 11. Partnerships PRODUCT STRATEGY EOL Acquisitions Finance Pricing PRODUCT MARKETIN G PRODUCT MANAGEMEN T Analysts OEMs Advisory Boards Speaking
    12. 12. PRODUCT STRATEGY Customer PRODUCT MANAGEM ENT PRODUCT MARKETIN G
    13. 13. PRODUCT STRATEGY PRODUCT OWNER 75% Internal Agile Stories PRODUCT MARKETING TECHNICAL PM PRODUCT MANAGEMENT Internal/External Problem Statements, BUSINESS Requirements ANALYST 100% Internal Functional Specs
    14. 14. Traits I Look For Leadership Communication Skills Analytical Approach Business Sense Market Knowledge Technical Knowledge
    15. 15. Developing a New Product
    16. 16. Listening is the key
    17. 17. 5 levels of “why”
    18. 18. Vectors Customer/Technical Support Technical Sales/Sales Engineer Business Analyst Subject Matter Expert Entrepreneur Intern Volunteer projects
    19. 19. Positioning Your Experience Solving customer problems Understanding the market Driving business results Driving consensus Leading projects Gathering requirements
    20. 20. Working with Engineering Remember you are NOT part of the Engineering team Tell them “what” and “why,” but not “how”
    21. 21. I Help Product People Team coaching via UpUp Labs Tools: Reqqs - the smart roadmap tool for product people Blog: ProductPowers.com Twitter: @d8a_driven Email: bruce@reqqs.com Office Hours: sohelpful.me/brucemccarthy

    ×