I Got 99 Problems, but Devs Ain’t One

At the core, a product manager is responsible for bringing together 3 things: Customers, Business and Technology. You have to be deeply customer centric, obsessing over data and having an intimate knowledge of your users. You must collaborate across your organization to have a solid understanding of your business model, the competitive landscape, core competencies and strategic vision. You must also understand the technology, along with its capabilities and limitations.

Devs are your ultimate resource, not only for technical feasibility but also ideation and discovery. There is a reason why the most common path to Product is via Engineering. In my experience some of the best ideas have come from the engineers.

Devs are just as passionate about the business, the product and the user as the Product team. Devs are also very keen on customer wants and their pain points. So it’s only natural for devs to get excited about discovery and solving user and business pain points.

Get your devs involved early and often. Ideally the dev team will be fully aware of what the teams OKRs are for that sprint, month, quarter etc. When discovery starts, the PM and the dev team should know:

  • What the business objective is
  • The problem that you are solving for
  • Who the user is
  • What success will look like

At the very least, the technical lead in your squad should be someone who is involved early and often. If the first time the devs are able to discuss a product or feature is during refinement or planning you are most likely missing out a ton of valuable insight. The key is to be missionaries not mercenaries, and collaboration between PMs and devs is key to creating missionaries.

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