Tag Archives: enterprise product management

Is the product development dream in India over?

A quick scan of LinkedIn reveals that there are only 16 jobs available across 9 firms with the designation “Product Manager” in the whole of India. Of these, you can discount the perennial ads from Yahoo, Google and Amazon (they have been running the same ads for more than 6 months now).

In the remaining firms, only BMC Software, Model N, Play Games 24X7, Electronic Arts, Angel Prime (an incubator) and a few others are looking to hire product managers in India. Additionally, the job description makes it clear that they are looking for help in the areas of product design and development, and no outbound activities are really described.

Another interesting fact to observe is that most of these are consumer facing product management roles, and very few enterprise product management roles are available now. Perhaps this would be a good time to start beefing up your skill set in the consumer product management areas.

If you look at job portals such as naukri.com and monster.com, you can see a similar trend. While there has been a distinct slowdown in hiring in the technology industry, the disappearance of PM jobs indicates something more drastic. Nobody seems to be making new investments in product development anymore. As this has become a buyer’s market, you can expect the salaries offered to crash based on the desperation of candidates.

Post a comment if you wish to discuss this.

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My 5 New Year Resolutions on Product Management

1. Work more closely with large accounts

Sitting in India and working with overseas clients, there are a lot of buffers such as service delivery, account management, sales leadership and program management that are involved in day-to-day client engagement. This makes it difficult for an offshore enterprise product manager to get on an exclusive call with the client, and almost impossible to get face time with the client. The way out is to create more surveys, feedback forms, presentations and reports to engage the client while other teams also sit in on the call.

2. More interactions with sales teams

Same challenge goes in the efforts to find the pain points of the sales teams, the way they approach the client and the quality of interaction that occurs between them. It is an offshore PM’s responsibility to connect with the sales and technical sales teams every month and make sure that they are up to speed about the product and the roadmap. Even in an Indian market PM role, it is easy to get caught up in product design and development and forget about the post-release sales efforts.

3. Work in an Indian market product management role

Based on conversations with peers, and tracking general hiring trends, I have a strong feeling that the PM roles in R&D centers in India are stagnating or declining in value to the US organization. Consequently, the quality of work on offer, and the type of people they hire will be one-dimensional. One of my personal resolutions is to find the rare software firm focused on the Indian market and support its product management initiatives. With the rise of SAAS, these firms should have an interesting journey.

4. Read more books, research

Software engineering and creating and managing technology products are very innovative areas and there is constant research going on around the world on these topics. I plan to read many more books, periodicals and research publications on these to keep abreast of the latest trends in my profession. One book that I intend to read and review soon is Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. It is a nice book that talks about strategy in successful firms.

5. Blog more

I started this blog in Dec 2012, after a lot of procrastination. This year I plan to blog on PM trainings, reviews and other observations several times a week.

Happy New Year to All!

5 Social Networking Recommendations for PMs in India

network cablesOne of the vital dimensions of Product Management is the skill of networking and the ability to connect with different people. This includes people outside your department and company. A strong network of contacts can often help in getting the next job, increase your visibility in the industry or give a boost when you are among the dozens of candidates vying for the coveted Google or Amazon product manager role. And no, the network cables shown here are not going to help you in that effort.
So how do you expand your network of online contacts? Well, there are three sites where you must have a well-developed profile:

1. LinkedIn
This is your most important professional network and you must have a complete profile here. Start inviting everyone in your firm who you interact with to connect on LinkedIn. As a rule of thumb, after every month on the job, you should have at least 5 new contacts here. Additionally, if you meet other product managers, or interact with them on social media, they should be invited too. However, a premium account is not necessary.
2. Facebook
This is the place where you invite people whom you meet socially and regularly in the workplace. They need not be peers or bosses, but perhaps someone you share a lunch with. As always, don’t post anything you would not want your parents to read.
3. Twitter
Start following people who have similar professional interests such as product management, product design, UX and top people from the industry. If required, keep 2 twitter accounts, one for professional reasons and the other for personal interests. However, it is not recommended to link Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

Additionally, you should:

4. Express online opinions
If you have opinions on product management or about your industry, you must share it with bloggers. For example, someone actively in promoting social media for PMs must be aware that the Desi PM is writing about it, and should post a comment here.

It is strongly recommended that you post it in your own name, unless it is controversial and you would rather do it under an alias. In any case, you must track these forums and share your opinions.

5. Join internal networks within the firm
If you work for a large firm, there will be tools such as IM, SalesForce Chatter, Jive and others in use. You must create a strong presence there. However, the downside is that their usage is totally predicated on the presence of senior management, and the culture of the firm.

Today, almost every recruiter does a Google search or views LinkedIn on potential candidates before processing a résumé. So you can actually consider your online presence and your networks as extending your résumé, irrespective of whether you are searching for a job or not.

In the resources section, I am adding links to real world events such as Unpluggd, IPMA meetings and TIE meetings that can be good source of contacts too.

True Story of a PM in India – 1

PM in Offshore Enterprise Product ManagementCareer Killing Move

This PM I know has the typical profile of tech-savvy product managers, which you find in various offshore R&D centers. He worked in software engineering in India for a few years, went to the USA to study for his masters, and gradually moved to product management there. After several years there, he returned to India as a PM in an offshore R&D center and now he is in a role where:

a) Engineers are very young and inexperienced, yet smart and aggressive

b) PM is seen as an overhead and an engineering support role

c) His PM manager is in the US, however it is the local VP of business operations that runs his life.

d) All end of life and low priority products end up here, in piecemeal fashion

e) With travel budgets cut or non-existent, customer access only happens on very late night calls

f) He has no access to industry analysts anymore

g) No business relevant or strategic activities are run in India, and his role is totally tactical, creating usecases and PRDs

Within 6 months, he found himself effectively cut-off and isolated from the Business Unit product management team in the US. Additionally, he found that there was actually a negative incentive to producing good quality PM output in India, as there was resistance in the company against moving work offshore.

After managing one software release in 2 years, overtime, overbudget and with very low quality, he got fed up and tried to move out. Sadly, the other PM roles available to him were equally bad, and there is no escape back to either engineering or moving to sales or business development, due to lack of relevant experience. So he is actually passing time, with the least amount of interest left in his product or workplace. Additionally, due to family reasons he cannot move back to the US, not that anyone is hiring there.

The only thing left now is to wait in place, and hope that the market downturn does not eliminate his well paying job. In this scenario, expecting top notch product development in India and leading a fantastic team is a hallucination, and will probably never occur in his lifetime. His only hope is that the engineering team pulls up their socks, improve productivity and quality, and justifies its value in India. In this case, he can make a business case to get relatively new products done out of India R&D and probably expand his work to APJ markets and customers.

Now when he sees posts and websites detailing the “strategic nature of product management” and “PM as a CEO” he simply laughs.

Note: This was told to me by an acquaintance in early 2012, who worked for one of the top telco equipment manufacturers, and was finally laid off when his firm could not compete with Apple and Google. He now works as a program manager, creating spreadsheets and tracking resources in an Indian IT services firm at 50% of his last salary, where his clients are his US peers from his previous firm. And he has no intention of returning to an offshore product management role.