Before You Say Yes…

the "ACK" factorDavid Radzialowski and Joshua Steffan of B2B Product Makers have posted a great piece titled “So You Got the Product Manager Position – Should you take it?” It got me reflecting on the same question, so I’ve added some to their excellent list of issues to consider before you say “yes”.

Budget. David & Joshua mention this, but I want to call more attention to the subject. As a new PM you will want to travel. Well, you may not want to, but you’ll need to. You need to hit the road with the sales team, listen to existing customers and prospects, attend trade shows, and get a feel for the market. Depending on the product you may want to visit production or service delivery locations. You’ll often have the need to purchase tools. You may need to fill in gaps by outsourcing important functions like win/loss analysis if no one is doing it today. All of these activities are critical to your success and you’re being set-up for failure if you aren’t going to be able to get the necessary budget.

Product Development. This may seem like a silly question to ask, but it’s an important one. Does the company make their own products or do they resell? Your job as PM for a VAR will be about portfolio management, service delivery, and partner relations. Is this your thing? If it’s not, then you’ll want to get with a company that is developing their own products.

Innovation. David & Joshua talk about idea generation, but I’d like to focus on a slightly different aspect – is the company committed to innovation? Lots of companies aren’t and it’s not a requirement for financial success. But it might be a requirement for your happiness. If it’s important to you – ask the question.

People vs. Process. This could be a sub-header under “culture”. Does executive management put its faith in people or process? It’s not a fair question, as the answer is likely both, but where is the emphasis. If you are a Six Sigma-type, you might be fine with an organization that believes in process over people. If you are the highly creative, color-outside-the-lines-type, maybe not so much. Fortunately salary is a pretty good indicator of the value a company places on talent. If they are paying below market they probably don’t feel like they need the cream of the crop to be successful.


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Nathan – These are excellent additions, especially the thoughts on Budget and Innovation.

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