One of the side-effects of increase in the consumer internet start-ups activity is the number of people claiming to be a product manager in the market today. A quick look around will tell us that there are people with 1 year of experience to people with 20 years experience – all having their designations as product managers. Given that a product management team isn’t typically a large team (unlike developers and QA), it is baffling to see such a variance in the years of experience.
We hire quite a few Business Analysts and their career path is also on the lines of either gravitating towards becoming a project manager or a product manager. And I have seen much larger interest on the product manager side. This is not too surprising given that a project manager is largely an operational role whereas a product manager role looks sexier with terms like consulting, strategy, design and user experience thrown in. Why a lot of people find strategy and consulting sexier than operations at a lower experience level is alarming and may need another post, but this post is generally to write my thoughts on how I think the role of a product manager has changed over time.
Fast forward a few more years, and we saw the rise of specialised front-end UI frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap which got mass adoption – and I attribute much of that to the fact that people didn’t want to deal with the above 2 problems I talked about earlier even though it may not be the best technical solution from a purist standpoint. This is where unfortunately I have seen mis-alignment in the various product managers that I see in most of the companies – many of them just haven’t kept themselves updated.
The role of a product manager really is to first find the best process that gets a product developed most efficiently and with least iterations. They can choose to be a purist, a manager or obsess about certain tools later. And this is not a one-time activity, with the speed at which technology changes it has to be likely assessed very regularly and as a part of job. And this is where a combination of curiosity and experience is required, that has not been so common in especially culture like ours. I will, any day, be happier to see this kind of analysis coming from the different product managers and presenting it to their respective product teams and making sure they drive this to adoption.
We have been working on making this change at Kellton Tech and get this in our DNA, and I hope I see the same change for all the other product managers that I may or may not know of.