Working with Engineering


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Working with Engineering by
Atul Suklikar at SVPMA Monthly Event June 2003

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Working with Engineering

  1. 1. Working effectively with Engineering Atul Suklikar Co-founder, VP Product Management Softrock Systems
  2. 2. Speaker Background Education: BS EE, MS CS, MBA Oracle Corporation: 4 years in Engineering Siebel Systems: 6 years in Product Marketing Softrock Systems: 6 weeks
  3. 3. An Engineer’s Demonization of a PM Courtesy Billy ConnollySub-second response time FLEXIBILITY Usability Huge market Press coverage Standards support Features BugsSENSE OF EnhancementsURGENCY Bells & whistles
  4. 4. Agenda The Goal The Context The Keys to Success - Provide value to Engineering • What constitutes value? • How do I provide it? Summary Questions and Insights
  5. 5. The Goal Translate Product Strategy into a successful Product Reality Build lasting relationships with Engineers Have fun building products
  6. 6. The context3 Possible Organizational Relationships between PM and Engineering GM/CEO GM/CEO GM/CEO PM ENG ENG PM PM ENG Typical Rare
  7. 7. Typical Engineering Structure VP  VP of Engineering Director Architect • Overall leadership Manager  Directors & Managers • Focused on delivery Engineer Staff Engineer  Architects • “Big Thinker” : Typical Progression • Typically longest tenured : Individual Contributor  Staff Engineer • “Junior” Architect  Engineer • Shortest tenured
  8. 8. Agenda The Goal The Context The Keys to Success - Provide value to Engineering • What constitutes value? • How do I provide it? Summary
  9. 9. What value can a PM provide to an Engineer? Be the voice of the customer • Synthesize market requirements, customer pain-points, and competitive landscape Prioritize product development • Release themes, product features Guide product wins • Sales, market perception Help career progression • Product success, internal visibility, external exposure
  10. 10. How can the PM provide that value? Fully understand • Customer Expert • Market • Current Product Gain the trust by being • Reasonable Partner • Flexible • Personable Effectively promote Champion • The Product • The Engineers
  11. 11. Value provided by the PM - Details Establish yourself as the Expert Build a Partnership Be a Champion
  12. 12. Establish yourself as the expert Areas of expertise: • Customer • Market • Product Key parties to target • Architects, Managers, Directors Who can help • Other perceived Experts – PM, Sales, Services • Architects
  13. 13. Building and Communicating Customer Expertise Familiarize yourself with customer usage • High level knowledge about a large number of customers • Deep knowledge about a small number of customers Use specific customer/prospect names and usage data in MRD use cases and in conversations Have your management reiterate your stature as an expert • In meetings, conversations, emails… Reinforce the perception through first-hand contact • Appropriate Sales or Service people • Customers
  14. 14. Building and Communicating Market Expertise Familiarize yourself with the competitive landscape • High level knowledge about a large number of competitors • Deep knowledge about a small number of competitors Share this information periodically with Engineering through white papers, demos, news clippings Present a balanced view about their strengths and weaknesses and how you compete against them Use Engineering’s help in analyzing underlying technology trends to augment your reading Limited first-hand contact with Analysts
  15. 15. Building and Communicating Product Expertise Familiarize yourself with the existing product • Technical training • Install development builds frequently • Participate in testing of the product Understand the architecture through conversations with Engineers • Focus on the what as well as the why Reinforce the perception that you understand the product • MRDs contain references to how things currently work • Explaining current product behavior in joint Engineering & PM meetings Be balanced in your communications
  16. 16. Value provided by the PM - Details Establish yourself as the Expert Build a Partnership Be a Champion
  17. 17. Build a partnership Characteristics of a good partner • Reasonable • Flexible • Personable Key Parties to target • Engineer, Staff Engineer, Architect, Manager, Director Who can help • Your manager • Architects, Managers
  18. 18. Being Reasonable Common pitfalls • Request 10 X the number of features that would fit in a given release • 80% of features are marked as P1 A better approach • Articulate a multi-release vision for the product • Get the Architects and Directors to embrace and own that vision • Jointly work with them to define the delivery roadmap Over time, develop a feel for (crude) estimations of level of effort Involve Architects and Staff Engineers early in the definition process
  19. 19. Being Flexible Always keep the big picture in mind • This is a repeated interaction game – many releases, many products, many features Prioritize judiciously Break down features into granular sub-features so that the essential aspects are not compromised Entertain alternate implementations to achieve the same end goals If resources are insufficient, offer to make the case to management for additional investment or reallocation
  20. 20. Being Personable Interact with Engineers in non-work settings • Take your Engineering team to lunch • Explore common interests – sports, movies, etc. Make it a point to get to know the (junior) Engineers well • Drop by their office to chat about what they are working on • Ask for demos and provide ad-hoc feedback Always share positive product feedback • Forward congratulatory emails regarding sales, deployments, etc. Attend Engineering staff meetings on an as-needed basis Invite the Engineering Manager to your staff meetings
  21. 21. Value provided by the PM - Details Establish yourself as the Expert Build a Partnership Be a Champion
  22. 22. Be a Champion Things to champion • The Product • The Engineering team Key Parties to target • Product – All • Team – Especially Engineers, Staff Engineers, and Managers Who can help • Your management
  23. 23. Champion the Product This is part of your normal responsibilities The key is to keep Engineering informed and excited Present a successful pitch or conference presentation to the Engineering team Share favorable Product Press immediately Debrief the Engineering team on conference feedback Share clever applications of the product developed for sales deals or by customers
  24. 24. Champion the Engineering team Give visibility to key accomplishments • Especially for Engineers, Staff Engineers, and Managers • Examples: — An email to all of PM advertising a brand new feature acknowledging the developers — An email to PM and Sales Management crediting developers of a particular feature that was key to winning a deal Increase name awareness of the Engineers among your management during meetings, conversations, etc. Nominate Engineers you work with for awards Recognize good work by Engineers by conveying your appreciation to their managers and director
  25. 25. Value provided by the PM - Details Establish yourself as the Expert Build a Partnership Be a Champion
  26. 26. Summary The Goal – A successful Product Reality The Context & Structure The Keys to Success - Provide value to Engineering  Expert  Partner  Champion Questions and Insights
  27. 27. Thank you Atul Suklikar