Ask A Good Product Manager

Your product management questions answered

Where does product management belong in the organization?

Posted on April 21, 2008 · 3 Comments

Question: Where should product management report in the organization?

I own a software development company that used to be an interactive ad agency. We have decided the need for a product director to guide our product development and life cycle.

After investing heavily in operations we are undecided where this person should report to directly — to us (management) or to operations (development/production). To whom should a product manager report?

Answer from Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing: The role of product management spans many activities from strategic to tactical, some very technical, others less so. The strategic role of product management is to be “messenger of the market,” delivering market and product information to the departments that need facts to make decisions. That is why it is not surprising that 33% of product managers report directly to the CEO, acting as his or her representative at the product level.

Many CEOs realize that product management brings process and business savvy to the creation and delivery of products. Perhaps that’s why we’ve seen a shift over the years of where product managers report in the organization. Many organizations put the job within another department. Pragmatic Marketing’s 2006 product management salary survey reveals:

  • 25% are in the Marketing department
  • 12% are in Development or Engineering
  • 8% are in a Sales department

I explore roles, titles, organization, and more in my new ebook, The Strategic Role of Product Management, available free from www.pragmaticmarketing.com/srpm.

3 other answers so far ↓

  • Gopal Shenoy // Apr 22, 2008 at 6:44 am

    My opinion is that product management should NOT report to development. Otherwise, it will be like the fox guarding the chicken.

    If the PM reports to development, very likely the product decisions will be based on what development can deliver and when, not based on the products needed to meet the customer needs and win in the market.

  • David Locke // Apr 28, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    And, the sales guy is going to tell sales to go away? No, thanks.

  • Alexander // May 13, 2008 at 9:55 am

    As a consultant I’ve worked in many organization structures at different levels. It depends on how relevant your product is to their core business and cash flow.

    I worked at a catalog company where I was part of their marketing department. The products we developed helped people do business with them, but did not generate revenue.

    I worked at a software startup company where I reported directly to the CEO. The product we developed directly contributed to the bottom line.

    I worked at a industrial products company where I reported to marketing, then to the president of the business unit. The products we developed to provide differentiation with competitors was developed into a stand alone product.

What do you think?