Question: How much should a product manager get involved with project management?
How much of a product managers time is spent on project management? How hands on is the product manager during a project phase?
I’m in a situation where I’ve been given more responsibilities without having my previous responsibilities reduced. I would like to know what tasks I should keep, what task I should delegate.
Answer from Derek Morrison of All About Product Management: Tasks that a Product Management performs will vary from company to company and industry to industry. Even within the same organisation the job of the product manager can vary depending on the product portfolio and the type of stakeholders you have to deal with. Bottom line is that there is no straightforward answer to the questions you asked. However there are a number of questions you should ask yourself in order to know what is right for you and your career:
- Are the additional responsibilities you’ve been given temporary or permanent?
- If permanent, will they enhance or detract from your product management tasks?
- If temporary, how long will the additional tasks be your responsibility?
- Does your organisation use project mangers, and if they do, why are they not using them on your project/products?
- What’s the financial health of your company – is it becoming necessary to double up on roles due to lack of funding and sponsorship?
Many companies (consciously or subconsciously) combine the job of product manager with other roles such as: technical support, technical sales, business analyst or systems analyst, and — yes you’ve guessed it — project management. Doing so means that the product does not always get the focus it deserves – which results in a less competitive product being launched into the market.
Ultimately you need to be careful that the additional tasks do not detract from your key responsibilities: that of discovering and defining new products and enhancements to your current products and solving customer problems in an innovative way. Wherever possible you should delegate, to the appropriate people, any task that prevents you from focusing on the strategic inbound tasks.
Amy C. Edmondson writes in July’s edition of HBR that “A focus on getting things done, and done right, crowds out the experimentation and reflection vital to sustainable success. “ Bottom line is there may not be a straightforward answer but be careful that you don’t become the critical link in project managing the current product design that you don’t have time to think about the next one.