One of the best structures for multiple product manager roles in an organization is where every PM has a clear boundary of their product area – which could be a specific user journey(s), or a complete product on its own. For e.g. if Amazon.com is a digital product, there would be many product managers involved in running the show – some would be region-based, some would take care of the payment/checkout process, some would deal with the vendor side of the business, some would manage the whole taxonomy (product categorisation). While working in such a multi-PM environment, you would be following certain base principles set out for each one of the PMs. You would most probably own the following:
1. Vision – What your product (area) wishes to accomplish in the next 6-9-12 months
2. Roadmap – What are the milestones you have drafted that would solve customer problems and align with organization’s objectives
3. Backlog – What are the task level items you have listed in your backlog to get things done
4. Development team – How does your team function, what methodology they use (Scrum, Kanban, etc.), what is their velocity?
5. Product launch – How do you prepare for the release of the next version of your product (area)?
You would most probably have the autonomy to run the product team as a PM, and the best way to work with other PMs would be to follow the following Agile principles:
1. Transparency – Keep them abreast of your above-mentioned items i.e. Vision, roadmap, backlog, dev team, product launch. Use your weekly PM meetings (I hope you have a forum where you all PMs meet, at least once a week) to share the information
2. Respect – Different people might tackle a situation differently, might have a different approach and thinking. Agile asks you to have respect for the other person.
3. Courage – Agile also demands you to have the courage to say what you think about the product function. Use the team meetings, retrospective sessions, to explain what you think is good, or what could be done better.
4. Collaboration – There will be many situations where you would have to help the other PM, do some tasks for them, but that task would have to be done by your team. This is your chance to help them achieve their goals, and you will be appreciated for that.
5. Communication – Often left out in the ocean of emails, messages, chats. I am talking about real communication where you clearly share what you are working upon, you clearly ask if you need something from them by a given time, you openly share what your plans & thoughts are. This is the gel that keeps the multi-PM function working smoothly.
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Onkar Singh Lohtham