How do you go about launching a new product and getting good-quality customer feedback in a timely manner?
Email, Skype, Video chat, Facebook, Twitter, Wikis - have all made communication simpler, yet none of these communication channels is a replacement for good old face-to-face meetings, which is why product managers need to be as close as possible to their customers. Nothing beats lunch with a customer when it comes to gathering product feedback. On the other hand, no matter how detailed your MRD/PRD is, there will always be changes and quick decisions to be made during development. A good product management team can quickly prioritize, make trade-off decisions and work with the engineers to resolve urgent issues.
Having worked at various companies throughout the years, I got the opportunity to try out every possible structure: a product manager based in Israel and a product marketing manager based in the US; a product manager based in the US and a product marketing manager based in Israel; a product manager in Israel reporting to an executive located in the US; a product manager based in the US reporting to an executive located in Israel, etc.
So what team structure works best?
I believe any structure can work flawlessly, and any structure can fail miserably. In my experience, product management worked well when:
- We had A players in the team
- We had team members in both the US and Israel
- We got egos out of the way
- We maintained very intensive communication between all team members
- We set clear strategy and goals