Surveys from Pragmatic Marketing, Jama and Quantum Whisper paint a pretty detailed picture of a product manager and his or her job. I've assembled this composite persona from that information, my own experience, and many discussions with other PMs over coffee or beers.
I've recorded it here to get your input and feedback. Is this you? Is it like other PMs you know? With your help, this will form the core user and buyer persona for a simple, affordable requirements and roadmap tool. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Luke the Product Manager
Luke is a product manager in the software industry. He’s 39 years old and has a college degree. He wonders if he should go back to get his MBA because many of his colleagues have one but he doesn't have the time because he is already working 50-60 hours a week. He makes $117k per year in total comp, including a bonus he gets most of, most of the time.
Luke is one of a group of 6 product managers at his company, reporting to the VP of Product Management who reports to the CEO of his company. Luke is responsible for 3 products and $23 million in annual revenue.
He works as part of a small development team of 18 people. The team is spread out over multiple locations and time zones, so Skype and Microsoft SharePoint are every day tools for him. Recently, however, he’s also been looking at Google docs for sharing.
He’s good at his job but puts in long hours, including frequent evening and weekend work, and never feels as though he’s really caught up. He wants to spend more time talking with customers, doing win/loss analysis and thinking strategically about the future of his market and where his product should go. Instead, he spends many hours composing, organizing, prioritizing and communicating requirements to engineering and to the many other constituencies around the company that need to know about them.
As part of his job, Luke must gather information about market requirements and communicate information about these requirements and the status of development efforts to meet them to a variety of stakeholders, including people in marketing, sales, sales engineering, customer support, finance, development, architect, C-level management, partner, customer and prospect roles.
He’s getting more attention from the C-level execs at his company, which is gratifying and he assumes will be good for his career, but it is also creating more work in preparing materials suitable for that audience.
Luke is managing his first nominally Agile project, learning as he goes. The team is not following a pure Agile process, however, preferring to retain some of their established methods, habits and tools.
Luke's Process and Tools
Luke is a gadget hound, carrying iPhone and iPad wherever he goes. He meticulously records interview notes with customers in Evernote and captures feature requests in Excel. He dashes off UI mockups in Balsamiq.
Luke writes requirements in Word as a single Product Requirements Document, uses Excel to prioritize those requirements, and uses PowerPoint to communicate the committed roadmap. Luke’s PRDs and Prioritized Feature Lists contain a lot of information and a large number of features to manage. He usually has to make multiple versions of each type of document as projects evolve, and it is a challenge to keep them all up to date and in sync.
Luke enters features into JIRA one at a time once they’ve been agreed to. In that process, he modifies and makes the requirements more detailed, obsoleting those parts of the PRD and leaving unimplemented features orphaned in a doc no one will look at again.
Luke wishes he had a tool for managing requirements that was easier to use because it would save him a lot of time and effort in maintaining and publishing his many disparate documents.
Luke's Work Style
Luke is fairly technical, thanks to his background in engineering and as a sales engineer. He is also an excellent communicator, which makes him good at bridging the gap between business problems and what Engineering needs to know to solve them.
He is a good listener, very easy to approach and talk to. He likes learning about people's jobs, their challenges and goals. Luke asks good questions. He is also very analytical and does a good job synthesizing all he learns into a coherent plan. His most difficult challenge is prioritizing the myriad requests and ideas he gets for features, bug fixes and other work in a way that serves the strategic needs of the company, keeps customers and other stakeholders happy, and can be explained clearly and defended using objective criteria.
Does this sound like you? Post your thoughts in the comments.