A day in life of a Product Manager …

This is inspired from real life. This post is not about being inspirational or talk about the pros and cons of being a product manager. It is all about doing what one always wants to do in life. Everyone plays an important role in success of a company. Be it a CEO , COO, sales, marketing, programmers, testers, Dev Ops, admins, HR, finance, support or a lesser known mortal called Product Manager, everyone is so integral for a company to be successful. and the measure of success is only one thing called “Customer Happiness Index”.

So, With all the kind of roles mentioned above, most of them are very well defined functions. There is only one function called Product Management which is so ambiguous that even product managers get confused many times why they exist. Sometimes, it is so frustrating for a product manager to figure out whether one is an engineer, support executive , operations person, sales or basically nothing or everything.

A Product Manager day entails a minimum of the following.

  1. Daily Stand up : This is the bare minimum and a must have. A product manager definitely starts a day with a daily stand up (mostly virtually on telephone) to save time in the morning while being in traffic. In this stand up, he blurbs out the issues he is facing to get the feature released on time or if nothing else, atleast get it released. Also, he fights out with his team mates (other product managers) about why his thing is important and others need to wait. By the end of this stand up, his blood pressure has already shot up and is boiling with anger.
  2. Stand up with Feature Teams : This is optional if agile is functioning in its best possible format in a company. but in reality, agile is twisted in most companies and a product manager becomes the part of feature team stand up to make sure he observes the progress and issues and resolves if it can be.
  3. Dealing with Sales teams : By the time, stand ups are over and a product manager barely manages to finish a cup of coffee and is about to finish his 50% of email replies, he gets the calls from sales executives about clarifications of certain features in the product and if they can be modified with in a day to get the potential customer. Of course, most of the time , the answer is a BIG NO. and he spends crucial minutes explaining that it cannot be done. at the end of the discussion with sales executive, with in few minutes, he starts seeing the mails from almost all corners how a customer is lost because a product is not up to the mark and he missed out on such basic scenario of customer needs. and as a result, company has lost a very significant customer and a huge pile of money.
  4. Dealing with Tech teams: Because of argument with sales teams, he talks to tech team if certain tweaks are possible in the product quickly. Inspite of him being technical and polite, the tech team just ignores him and says a BIG NO without understanding the impact and moves on to their second cup of coffee and a discussion on how Facebook is handling millions of requests per second.
  5. Dealing with Marketing : By this time, a mail from marketing arrives asking for suggestions for a new partnership they wish to crack. They want suggestions if they can launch a new product scheme in the market and if the product can support it. This one is fairly easy and a product manager says yes to anything which helps in product growth. but then, comes the hard part. now, he needs to draft a one pager and get the graphic designer to depict it in exactly what marketing teams wants and the hours go by while graphic designer tries to open up Photoshop even on 16 GB memory machine.
  6. And a customer calls : While the lunch time is gone and the product manager is hungry, here comes the patience test. A customer calls directly to product manager as he got the number figured out by fooling the customer support executives or through linked in and reports that he is not able to perform a transaction. A product manager rushes to the QA team to verify it who ask for “steps to reproduce”. but a few expletives get the problem identified and now, the timeline is communicated to customer about the fix of the issue. This angers the customer and he disconnects the phone.
  7. Phone call from COO : The Product Manager is just about to begin his lunch when people are having snacks or playing Table Tennis in the evening, when the COO calls. The angry customer has reached out to top management and has threatened to part ways with the company if the issue is not resolved in an hour. Forgetting the fuckin’ so called lunch in between, the product manager rushes to tech team and pleads (read: begs ) to them to fix it urgently. Finally, one of the tech guys agree as he feels that he should help the needy. He fixes the issue but by that time, QA team is already preparing to leave for the day. Now, the product manager pleads (read: begs again) to the QA guy and he agrees to help. Then, the Dev Ops, Sys Admin and release teams finally listen to the pleas of a poor guy and make the release happen.
  8. Roadmap Disagreement with CTO : by that time, CTO figures out that they have many more important things in technology to be taken care of as product needs to be scalable and reliable. and a huge discussion with CTO happens to align the roadmap again. Note that, roadmap discussions are a daily affair and a dream of 6 month roadmap is just a “DREAM”.
  9. Finally, Status update with CEO: the office is empty. People have gone home. It’s the security guards having dinner in office. the product manager is just winding off as he just about to miss a celebration at home. But then the CEO calls, he has heard about the customer complaint, last minute bug fix complaint by tech guys, problems identified in product by COO and team, sales team complaining about product not having that feature which can bring revenue, marketing team just cribbing about zero support from product manage, a screwed up roadmap as told by CTO and of course, not adhering to the instructions given by the CTO himself.

By the way, the celebration at home which he was supposed to attend at any cost got over yesterday.


Originally published at patterbuzz.com on January 24, 2016.