Open Question: Is there an App for that?

by Prabhakar Gopalan

Tweet this: Is there an App for that?  Please submit your favorite #prodmktg #prodmgmt #Apps @ONPM

Here’s a question for our readers.  We are looking to feature a Top 10 App list for PMs – Product Managers and Product Marketers.  Apps that would make our day jobs easy and help us improve our productivity.

Just three guidelines for submission:

1) No news or social media apps (e.g. WSJ, HBR, S+B while insightful, don’t improve productivity directly or make our day jobs easy.  Ditto Tweetdeck et al.)

2) Please specify App platform so we can locate it.  (e.g. Doodle iPhone App)

3) If there’s no App for that, just add ‘wish list app’ to your submission.

Please use comments section below to share your favorite apps and we’ll post a follow-up with the summary list.

Thanks for sharing!


Tweet this: Is there an App for that?  Please submit your favorite #prodmktg #prodmgmt #Apps @ONPM

Open Question: How can Product Managers and Product Marketers work better together?

by Saeed Khan

Here’s a question that I’ve heard asked in other venues, but I’d like to hear your thoughts?

How can Product Managers (PMs) and Product Marketing Managers (PMMs) work more effectively together?

What changes should be made functionally, organizationally, or in other ways to better align those two roles and deliver increased value for the company?

Or looking at it from another perspective, what’s not working today (in companies) that needs to be fixed so these roles can be more effective together.

Do you know of any companies that do this particularly well? If so, how do they do it?

I’ll start with one suggestion:

1. These two roles should be part of the same organization and have common product related goals. Unfortunately in a lot of companies, Product Managers are part of the “products” organization and Product Marketers are part of Marketing. With different goals and objectives, this is a reason they don’t work closely or well together.

Any other ideas? Over to you…please leave your thoughts and comments below.


Tweet this: @saeedwkhan How can #prodmgmt and #prodmktg work better together?

Open Question: What is stopping you from visiting customers?

by Saeed Khan

At ProductCamp Boston this past weekend, Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing asked a very simple, but telling question during my session.

He asked the other attendees:

How many of you have visited customers in the last year…without a Sales agenda?

It seemed like a fairly straight forward question.  Surprisingly, only a couple of people raised their hands. One person raised his hand, but then lowered it as Steve added the “without a Sales agenda” phrase.

Travel budgets are tight, we know that. And many of us are tied up with firefighting in the office. But if we’re not getting out of the office to develop market understanding and bringing it back into the company, then who is? And ultimately, what value are we as Product Management professionals delivering to our companies?

Here are the questions

1. What is stopping you from getting out of the office and visiting customers, partners etc. to gain insight and develop market authority?

2. And for those of you who don’t have this problem, what solutions can you offer others to help them get more interaction with customers/partners and build deeper market insight?

Leave your answers in the comments section below.

OR if you want to maintain your anonymity, click this link and give your answers via the form. I’ll summarize any responses and post them back on the blog in the near future.

I look forward to hearing from all of you.


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Open Question: How did you get your first Product Management or Product Marketing position?


Yesterday, I asked readers, what they’d like to read about on the blog.  We still want your input on that topic. Click ===>> HERE <<=== to jump to the survey to give your input.

And as proof that we’re listening, this blog post was inspired by one of the responses that came in.

The person wants to become a PM and wants to hear how current PMs got to where they are today. Great question.

First of all, let me point to a couple of previous Open Questions that relate to this topic.

My Answer

So, how did I get my first Product Management job?

I had the same dilemma as everyone else who wants to get into Product Management.

How do you prove to the hiring manager that you can do the job, even though “technically” you don’t have any Product Management experience?

I put “technically” in quotes, because that’s the key IMHO.  You have prior experience; you have to show that it is relevant to them and their hiring decision.

I remember my interview very well. It was with the President of a 100 person software company and I had to answer that same question.

My answer to him, was “Although I’ve never held the role of Product Manager, I’ve done many of the things that Product Managers must do.”

At the time, I was working in a software company that created a data visualization (i.e. advanced 3D charting) framework and object-oriented class library for 3rd party developers. My role in that company covered technical support, training and documentation.

The new company was focused on developer productivity tools and one of the products was a charting toolkit.

i.e. I had domain experience that was relevant to the hiring company and while I was not as technical as a developer, I clearly was technical enough to have meaningful conversations with the engineering team.

Keep in mind that this company created developer productivity tools, so that developer mindset was critical.

Beyond the domain knowledge, I had run my own business previously, and I stressed that aspect. i.e. I’m not just a (somewhat) technical person, but I understand business and I made the link that Product Managers need to blend the technology and the business in their role.

I also remember conversations about my style of decision making. I talked about the importance of consensus but that sometimes you have to put your foot down and make the hard decisions. The focus on consensus was key, as I found out later that the President was a big proponent of consensus.

Hiring managers want to know that you can work across teams and that you’re not just going to make arbitrary decisions and impose them others. Companies cannot work that way.

Finally they gave me a writing test, which was a bit of a surprise to me.  They wanted to understand my communication skills and also see if I could write copy for data sheets etc. I think I did OK on that. 🙂

So that was it. In short, prove to the hiring manager or company that you understand what Product Management is, that your previous experience is relevant to them,  that you know how to work with people, can fit in well and can communicate clearly. [If it was only that easy right?]

I’m sure there were other factors, but those are what I recall after all these years.

Now let’s hear your stories

So, what about you? Help those who want to enter the profession. How did you get your first Product Management or Product Marketing position?


Open Question: Why did you become a Product Manager?

My previous Open Question asked what you did before you became a Product Manager.

This time I’m interested in hearing WHY you became a Product Manager?

In my case, back in the late 80s and early 90s (yes, I’ve been working in high-tech for a long time) I had worked in a couple of not so successful startups. They failed for a number of reasons, but in one company, the failure was primarily due to being almost completely technology driven and lacking almost any aspect of market focus. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. The VP of Engineering once said (and I’m not making this up): “Customers don’t know what they want. I know what they want.”
  2. The CEO said (in response to a suggestion (by me) to do some market research before deciding what to build): “Who needs market research. By the time you finish the research you could have already built the product.”

There were many more Dilbert moments like these from that company.  One bright spot at that company was a rather short-lived VP of Marketing. She understood Product Management and opened my eyes to how things should be done. Unfortunately she left the company before changes could be made. I decided that Product Management was what I wanted to do next.

I wanted to work in a company where there was a customer and market focus, and where some level of discipline was present when making decisions on what to build. In short, I wanted to work in a company that had more than just a hope and prayer of being successful and I wanted to play a role in that success.

And that’s why I became a Product Manager.

What’s your story? Leave it in the comments below.