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Lessons Learned from Working with Engineering

This relationship is the most important of all, and the one that potentially has the most conflict. I’m no Dr. Phil of product management, but I can say that what has worked for me is making engineering an ally in interpreting and responding to the market with product direction.

  • Share product ownership with your products’ engineers. Partner and team with engineering; specifically, spend time understanding engineering’s perspective on your products. Share ownership for the product and its future, and work to create a cooperative environment with engineering.
  • Pursue product expertise relentlessly. Becoming a product expert starts by realizing that there’s no such thing as an "instant expert." Work with engineering to appreciate which decisions they’ve made on your product and why—that effort goes a long way toward giving you a solid foundation to manage your products as effectively as possible.
  • Be a de facto leader of development via customer and competitive intelligence. This strategy takes effort, and it’s worthwhile for any product manager to establish his or her role as delivering in-depth customer and competitive intelligence. Often, when the next generation of a product is being developed, engineering needs input on what customers want. By committing to be the leader in terms of customer and competitive intelligence, you can guide product development more effectively.
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