Steve Johnson, formerly of Pragmatic Marketing and currently consulting at Under10 Templates has written a nice and succinct e-book titled Product Management Expertise, which can be read in under 30 minutes. I would recommend it for everyone working as a product manager in India.
The central idea of the e-book is that Product Management has 4 key dimensions, and your firm should invest in hiring people for all four, and not make one person responsible for all of this.
So what are the 4 dimensions? Briefly:
- Domain Knowledge (What he has learnt on the job)
- Business Knowledge (mostly about the benefit of MBA)
- Technology Knowledge (preferably with an engineering background)
- Markets Knowledge (Has done non-engineering work before)
This is similar to the idea of multi-dimensional product management that I emphasize, but what Steve points out is that it is very difficult to find a single person, who is an expert in all these. And hence a firm should hire multiple people. This brings up a strong challenge of organizational design, which is successfully handled only by very large firms, and is extremely unlikely to happen in India.
[If you know of some firm that actually has all these roles in the same team here, send me a mail]
One other thing, domain and technology knowledge is all that is tested in interviews for offshore product management roles, whether in consumer (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft etc) or enterprise (IBM, Oracle etc) PM roles. So it is obvious how a prospective PM candidate for these MNCs in India should promote himself.
Previously, Steve has authored another well received e-book called “The Strategic Role of Product Management“, which is also a quick read, and worth a look.
Here’s a look at a job ad from a prominent web firm (People Group) in India
Position: Product Manager
Basic Function: Product Manager is primarily responsible for strategic product planning, defining, delivering and continuously innovating Internet based consumer products and services. Product manager should strive to create world-class products that are marketable and should be instrumental in getting the same implemented.
The ad goes on to further mention the job responsibilities, position requirements, necessary skills and good-to-have attributes.
So what should a prospective candidate analyze within the following information? Here’s a peek:
- What are the products within Shaadi.com that he would be working on
- What does “Training and mentoring teams as and when required” mean
- How can he “ensure timely delivery of projects”
- How can a product manager not be a “team player”
Here are some additional insights into the role solely based on the advertisement:
- Its a junior level product management role (4-6 years experience), so expect compensation between 8-15 lpa, based on experience, non-MBAs can expect less
- “MBA from top B-school” is written to mainly reduce spam resumes, anyone from from the top 25 schools can apply, or any engineering graduate (IITs, NITs etc) working as a web PM can also apply
- There will be little ownership of products or sections of properties within the website, so this is a good role if you want an all round education into different tasks in the web PM space
- Formal training and support for further education is not to be expected
- Shaadi.com has a large user base, so expect to design many UX solutions, experiments, wizards, that focus on client issues and interactions
- Web analytics and the metrics they provides will be used to gauge the success of the solutions
- Competitive analysis against other sites such as jeevansaathi.com is paramount, specially for the solution you will create on the job
- There is little to no budget for user studies or market research
- As the role is mainly about feature performance, roadmapping and creating specifications, you are likely to fall into the trap of one-dimensional product management. However, neither Agile nor Scrums are mentioned in software development, so the question mark on ultimate accountability remains.
- This role does not report to engineering head, so there will be independent appraisal of PM contributions. PM will probably have to track feature development and learn project management.
- Growth from this role will likely be to Senior Product Manager, and in rare cases, into Product Head. You can expect good increase in market value if you stay within the role for a couple of years.
Disclaimer: I have a lot of respect for People Group and their website, shaadi.com. This post is only provided to prospective PMs to indicate how to interpret job ads
If you have applied/joined somewhere for a web PM role similar to this, then drop me a comment, and we can have a quick discussion.