This question has come up a couple of times in recent conversations with people working at tech companies in Seattle. In companies that have enjoyed growth and are now at a stage where product management is necessary to drive direction and strategic planning, it’s common to sometimes trip up and misplace this important team in the wrong place in the organization. Different reporting structures yield very different results.
Rich Mironov has a nice post which places the head of product management – in this case the VP of Product Management – as a member of the executive staff and a kind of consiglierei and small team acting as an internal think tank. This autonomy and ability to think broadly outside of a specific function is healthy because there is no baggage that might dilute or cloud the perspective that represents the the right thing to do for the business”.
So when I hear of Product Management teams that don’t have a seat at the executive table I shudder. That was the case in my recent conversations. Both companies had created Product Management functions (yay) but unfortunately had implemented them under the CTO or VP of Engineering. The problem here is that the PM team needs to represent voices and opinions that sometimes disagree with engineering priorities. If you report to the VP of engineering, there exists an automatic bias (however hard you try to avoid it) that will influence your signal and input into the PM deliverables.
Where does your PM group sit in your organization? How is that working out?