Unraveling the Role of Internal PMs

Welcome to our Product Newsletter, a biweekly email highlighting top discussions, and learning resources for product managers.

What We Will Cover In This Edition:-

Top Discussions: 

1) Ethical conflict with product

2) As a product manager, what causes you the most stress?

3) Is there any role called internal PM?

Top Learning Resources:

1. 12 Inspiring company & product vision examples

2. Is the product manager actually the intelligence officer of the company?

3. The product leader’s cheat sheet for alignment: the customer support edition

__________________________

Top Discussions

Question 1Ethical conflict with product

I don’t have a degree, but I have been working in tech for a while in tier 2 and tier 2 support roles as well as project support. After that, I got a break as a PO, but the pay was terrible. Then, about six months ago, I got a break as a PM in the gambling industry, but the ethical aspect is making me sick to my stomach.

Have any of you faced ethical issues with your products? I wanted to work in product so badly that I took the first job I could get, but because I work in gambling, which involves gambling, I have moral questions about it because of my family’s history. How do you guys handle that?

– Bethany Grey

Discussion

A] This week, I canceled an interview after learning more about the company and deciding that I couldn’t face the mirror in the morning if I knew I was contributing to the accomplishment of their mission. I will admit that I have a bit more professional experience than you do given the position.

However, no amount of money can compensate for a lack of ethics. I would look around to see what else is available if you can’t wake up each morning feeling proud (or at least neutral) about what you’re bringing into the world. You might be surprised.

– Gary Houston

B] I completely agree with @GaryHouston. In my role as a PM, I’ve encountered a few ethical challenges; luckily, my company has taken note of my concerns and has come down on my side. But there were a few that I was willing to fight for. I have to accept who I am. And I doubt that I could have done so if I had moved ahead. I don’t know if I would have had a different perspective if I didn’t have a lot of security and safety, though.

– Bina Campos

C] Products of all kinds need to be managed. You must draw the line there, no matter where you decide to do so. There are phone apps available that encourage users to use them by using addictive and gambling techniques. Perhaps those lines are of the same nature for you. Knowing oneself.

You’re going to be a depressed puppy if you wake up every morning regretting that you put a dollar sign before your own sense of morality. Being motivated by money is not wrong. It won’t last long, though, to be so driven by money that you consistently act in a way that you believe to be wrong.

I advise you to take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as you can from the role before moving on or staying to identify the strengths of your work. There is something about our jobs that each of us dislikes. However, each of us has a personal motivator for our work. That positive aspect turns into an internal motivator that aids in quality work.
Good Luck.

– Marco Silva

__________________________

Question 2) As a product manager, what causes you the most stress?

IMO, the main source of stress as a product manager is managing multiple stakeholders and competing priorities. It requires strong communication and prioritization skills. This can often be overwhelming and challenging. However, with experience and practice, it becomes easier to navigate these complexities and find effective solutions.

– Heather Kurtz

Discussion

A] Some of the pain points that I could think of are:

  • Sales representatives who promote unreleased features.
  • Stakeholders who are impatient and frequently alter their priorities.
  • Devs who overpromise and deliver too little.
  • The pressure and confusion that the CTO, CPO, VP Product, and Product Director bring instead of clarity and alignment.
    More seldom:
  • Agile coaches and Scrum masters who want to teach everyone that their – extremely limited – interpretation of agile is the only correct way to do everything.

– Angela Blue

B] Amazing list! I believe I have gone through all of these, and while some of them are reversible, others probably aren’t:

  • Sales – Gosh! how harsh. A clear roadmap, in my opinion, is beneficial, and keeping track of the off-menu items they’ve promised is a way to demonstrate the opportunity costs they’ve generated.
  • Clear OKRs/objectives for stakeholders can be helpful, particularly if you involve them in the planning process and provide regular updates.
  • Reclusive retros from developers. Instead of placing blame, talk openly about why things aren’t getting done. The delivery is all yours to own. Team up to find a solution.
  • Product leaders — honestly, no idea. Find a new job, most likely. Your problem is being caused by the same person who has the solution.
  • Scrum masters, yes, this is terrible. It’s typically an indication that a business is overly preoccupied with delivery and underinvested in results. I don’t have a great idea.

– Vlad Podpoly

C] When I was brand-new and just out of college, one of my least favorite projects was to “make our product organization more agile.” I actually cringe as I reflect. Even though I didn’t fully understand product management at the time, I was trying to force everyone to follow all these processes. Even though I had senior sponsorship, looking back, I had no business being in charge of that project.

– Marco Silva

__________________________

Question 3) Is there any role called internal PM?

As a Product Manager I lead two teams developing auto-scalable cloud-based tools for internal use in a large corporation. These tools are part of a larger toolset, consisting of hundreds of systems and frontend pages. I have minimal autonomy and am closely involved in scrum rituals, daily calls, retros, reviews, planning efforts, technical refinement, backlog prioritization, negotiation with client teams, and handling incidents. I also act as a product owner in Scrum roles and manage people.

My doubt is, since I am manage a product that is solely for internal use, and has no external user base, am I still a PM?

– Arnie Silvers

Discussion

A] The majority of product roles are internal facing. They focus on improving internal processes and systems. However, there are also product roles that have an external focus, such as driving customer engagement and satisfaction. The internal product roles involve working closely with stakeholders and devs and gathering their feedback to inform product development and improvements. They play a crucial role in ensuring that the product meets the needs and expectations of the internal users.

– Matthew Shun

B] It is significant to remember that SaaS PMs exist. They create software that businesses license for internal use. They work in PM. It’s very likely that your business created some of those tools internally; the PMs who work on them are still employed there.

PMs are employed by Facebook, Google, and Amazon to work on such things. more so in the advertising space. They assert that they perform more elaborate work, but they follow orders based on payment. similar to how your VP sets priorities for you.

– Malcolm Sequeira

C] I oversee the development of internal systems for internal “clients.” In addition to working with my agile team, I’m also expected to complete PM tasks like user interviews and creating a strategic roadmap. We don’t complete all of the business’s requests, projects, or priorities. My responsibility is to suggest whether we should work on the requests from the business (using data to support my case), suggest additional items based on my own research, determine how everything fits into the overall roadmap, and ensure that everyone agrees on the final roadmap that we do deliver.

My manager constantly emphasizes that if all we’re doing is implementing project requests from stakeholders, then we’re acting more like project managers than product managers.

– Karan Trivedi

__________________________

Top Learning Resources

Vision is the guiding light that directs the course of teams in an organization.
A product vision describes what the product aims to do in lofty terms: It is the overarching long-term product goal. Vision statements communicate what the product hopes to achieve and guide the product teams about the ultimate objective. They stress the necessity of the product and what it hopes to accomplish in the future.
A company vision goes a step ahead & talks about the raison d’etre of the organization. It eventually does influence the product vision of various teams in that organization. In this article, we will focus on the product vision.

Is the product manager actually the intelligence officer of the company?

As I was a curios kid (and today curious man), I used to learn and read about a variety of subjects — from history through science and nature. I just loved data. Growing up, the repertoire has widen to thrillers such as “Bourne” trilogy, Tom Clancy etc. The intelligence stories and mystery solving have always intrigued me.

After 4 years in the army I’ve moved on to the civilian life, while continuing to serve in the reserve army. The year was around 2002.

Little did I know then, about software development nor about product management.

Why this long intro, you might ask, and what the hell it has to do with product management?

Well, when I think about the Product Manager — I always feel he is like a case officer or an intelligence analyst putting the pieces together.

The product leader’s cheat sheet for alignment: The customer support edition

In an ideal world, the product team would be perfectly aligned with all other company stakeholders, including the executive team, board of directors, and customer-facing teams like sales and customer support. Yet this is rarely the case. In fact, setting expectations with cross-functional stakeholders was one of the top challenges faced by product leaders, according to the most recent Product Excellence Report.

It makes sense — stakeholder communication and expectation setting is tough because there’s no single playbook to follow. Each group of stakeholders has their own interests and priorities. That’s why it’s so important to treat your stakeholders the same way you treat your customers, developing a deep understanding of each group and how you can best meet their needs.

__________________________

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please consider sharing it with a friend by asking them to sign up here.

Who’s Prowess? We are optimist product managers, engineers, and educators working on creating a world where merit meets opportunity. On Prowess, aspiring and experienced product managers showcase skills, learn from the community, and connect with employers to advance their careers.

How can you grow with Prowess?

    1. Learn from curated learning resources and community
    2. Work on curated projects or join expert-guided group projects
    3. Receive personalized feedback from product leaders
    4. Build a portfolio to stand out as a product manager
    5. Access and apply to curated jobs
    6. Prepare for interviews with Q&A from top companies