Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why it really doesnt matter where PM is organized ..

Let me begin by contradicting my own point. Of course it matters who your boss is and how your boss supports your work and all the usual politics involved in "managing upwards", but that is not the same as saying that the organizational "anchoring" of PM is important.

My point is simply that real PMs are obssesed with doing what is right for the product. Period. Nothing else really matters.

The discussion usually revolves around whether PM is a

- Sales/Marketing function or a

- Development/Production function.

... or, as most consultants prefers to say: "Function XX is so critical to the company that there must be a VP of XX that reports directly to the CEO" (substitute XX with any function in the company, such as "Product Management").

As a PM consultant I obviously believe the last point to be true :-). I strongly believe PM really is critical to the company, but as a former VP of XX I also realize that no competent CEO would want *all* functions in the company reporting directly to her, especially not the smaller functions such as PM always is by nature.

My conclusion is that there is no one answer to correctly organizing PM.

However one interesting guiding principle that I want to share with you today is to organize PM in a part of the organization where they do not logically belong. That is, if you have PM's with a technical background, let them report to Marketing and likewise if you have PM's with a commercial background let them report to development. This means that the way you're organized will support the cross-functional knowledge sharing, or rather "knowledge challenging" that is so fundamental to all PM work.

(Thanks to the Cranky PM and Scott Sehlhorst for making me aware of these aspects).

This often means that PM's will move around in the organization as the company evolves and changes and it will not be easy to be the PM - but hey, that's why we want to be PM's :-)

... in conclusion:

1. It doesn't really matter where PM is organized. A real PM is robust enough to handle almost any organization.
2. So you might as well support cross-functional knowledge-sharing by placing PM where it does not logically belong.

What do you think? How are you organized?

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