30 Days of Product Management Genius with Blair Reeves | Distinctions Between Consumer and Enterprise Software Product Management

Aero Wong
Aero Wong
Dec 15, 2017 · 3 min read
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“What’s your long-term career goal?” the CEO asked.

“I don’t have a long-term goal, yet.” I was answering a question in the final interview for a Product position. “But I have one for the short-term: become a Product Manager.”

“Okay. We’ll see,” he replied, ending the interview. Three days later, I landed the job. I was going to facilitate a product powered by cutting-edge technology that I barely knew. Besides being in over my head with the technology, I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do as a Product Manager!

I didn’t know how to achieve my goal: I didn’t just want to survive as a Product Manager, I wanted to thrive! I was nervous, but my desire to learn helped me focus on my next steps. I hired a researcher to provide me with all the information and online tutorials I needed to learn about Product Management, and I acquired a list of thought leaders in this domain.

A week later, I was like a piranha swimming in the ocean of knowledge. Tapping into all the genius of those who came before me, soaking up all of their combined wisdom, I quickly learned as much as I could and applied this to my new job. Senior Management was amazed by my acumen and Product Management skills.

Blair Reeves is a Product Management genius who contributed to my PM success.

Distinctions Between Consumer and Enterprise Software Product Management

The majority of product management resources I have seen are geared toward consumer technology. Reeves has spent his entire career in enterprise software product management. Check out his post Product Management for the Enterprise.

Below I simply want to articulate five distinctions between consumer and enterprise software product management, based on Reeves’s posts.

Distinction #1: In the enterprise market, we live exclusively in the direct-sales (subscription) model.

Distinction #2: We sell sophisticated products to a much smaller group of paying customers, who are often quite big and complex.

Distinction #3: One major client can request a product change that disrupts that nice roadmap we had all planned out — and no matter how much we resist this happening, it inevitably does.

Distinction #4: A lot of enterprise software is pretty specialized. It takes a thorough understanding of use cases and business problems our users face — which, in turn, often requires us to deeply understand our users’ business in the first place. Solving simple business problems isn’t going to make us any money — solving the hard ones does. And doing that takes time, focus and attention to detail, not hacking stuff together in isolation.

Distinction #5: Our Customer ≠ User. In a lot of companies, and particularly big ones, the person who actually uses our product probably is not the person who signs the check to pay for it.

Are you a Product Manager? Are you hungry for more practical and actionable PM knowledge you can apply on your job?

Blair Reeves is a speaker in the Product Manager Summit: The first FREE Web Conference showcasing Product Management best practices from around the world.

In his session, he will cover Product Management in Enterprise Software, Why It Is Different, and Best Practices.

You don’t want to miss this. Claim your free ticket.

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