How often have you heard this? I have heard this a lot from developer friends. In fact, some of my relatively junior developer friends even go a step further and say that they want to become PMs because they seem to have an easy life.
Is it really true that they have an easy life? Here is an amazing image from Rohini Vibhas’ page which exactly shows how PM’s roles are perceived.
The part of interest in the image is:
I am not here to defend what PMs do. But I just wanted share some of my experience:
• I think there is a huge misconception about what is expected off a PM. Devs have a tangible deliverable and it is very easy to quantify what s/he is spending time on. However PMs deliverables are not always tangible. For example, having a 1:1 with head of the business and projecting the team’s work in limelight is a part of PM’s job. Not sure how many individual contributors know that this plays an important role in promoting their work and hence their careers.
• PM works with different stake holders. It is also highly likely you don’t know what the PM delivers with other stakeholders, say Marketing, Sales, Design, Executives & Top Management. Actually, the biggest stakeholder PM works with is customers. Understanding customers is a long, hard & never ending task. This effort shows only through the “product sense” which PM brings. This effort, which takes a significant bandwidth of PM is not otherwise visible.
• PMs are supposed to get work done by influence. So if you have seen a PM talking & evangelizing, he is probably doing his job
Having said these, there are a few hard deliverables which a PM is responsible for. Ask the following questions to your PM and he should have a straight answer? He should actually be able to provide you pointers to documents as well.
• What is on the Product Road Map? What are the top 3 initiatives for the product?
• Can you share the Product Requirement Documents for feature X?
• What are the most difficult prioritizations he has done in the last 3 months?
PM is expected to prioritize day in & day out. Prioritization is easier said than done. PMs have to defend their decisions with multiple stakeholders with often conflicting interests and limited tolerance levels. It is a tricky position to be in. Hence the image is so apt. PM usually is running around like a headless chicken.
Happy PM-ing! 🙂