Traits of a good product manager

I was asked what makes a good product manager.

The CTO explained they were having trouble finding the right candidate to oversee a key new product and they were wondering if an internal promotion would solve the problem.

Knowing he had a hands-on development background, I asked him what he most valued when working as a developer?

โ€œClear requirements with thought given to business rules and edge cases, sized such that I could code heads down for a few days but not much more than that.โ€

I then asked him as a company board member, what he most needed from the product manager?

โ€œTransparent delivery plans with any material issues flagged as they emerge, otherwise an individual who can make and own product decisions without his involvement.โ€

And what about shareholders, what did they require?

โ€œA product that benchmarked favourably against competitors such that the existing customer base was retained, but not significantly beyond this.โ€

These were excellent answers and the dialogue helped the CTO better articulate, in amongst the daily busyness of his demanding role, the essence of what they were looking for in the new product manager.

Could the key new product be successfully delivered without a product manager?

Definitely. The role could be divided between business analyst and project manager. I even suggested taking on the software requirements and solution design myself.

Either way, at least they now had a better understanding of what they actually needed to get the product to market.

Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly distributed, remote and offshore development teams working in financial services.

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