In the chapter What is the difference between product marketing and product management? I commented on how marketing 4Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) are distributed between product marketing and product managers. This is a macro view of the division of responsibilities. In it, I also talked about how these teams (marketing and product management) should work closely together for the success of the products they develop and manage, as do the Engineering and UX teams, which, despite being distinct roles, should also work closely with product management. Another role that may overlap with the product manager is the project manager. Project managers in product development teams with agile culture are called the Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, or Delivery Managers.
This proximity often raises some questions such as: “Who is responsible for this task?”, “Whom do I need to consult before moving this other task forward?” and “Who needs to be with me so I can complete this other task successfully?” Often, these situations become jump balls: one thinks she is responsible for a particular task, and the other thinks the same. Or worse, one thinks the other is responsible, the other thinks the first one was, and no one does anything.
RASCI is a very useful tool to help define and understand the roles and responsibilities of each person and function. It is the abbreviation of the first letters of the possible roles that a person, area, or function can have in a task:
The following is an example of a RASCI responsibility matrix between engineering, UX, product marketing, and product management that we used at Locaweb:
The first step is to build the responsibility matrix. My recommendation is to fill this table by bringing together all the people involved in a room, so you can discuss whether the division of responsibility is ok for everyone and if a task is missing. Most likely, some “shared responsibilities” will appear, but this is a great time to discuss them and define who is responsible. There can be only one person responsible for any task.
Then, the team should try to do the tasks following the responsibility matrix for some time, like one or two months. Then, it is important to do a retrospective to see if everything is ok, or if any adjustment is needed.
From then on, the use becomes automatic, and people will no longer need to refer to the responsibility matrix. Every year, when a question arises, or even when a new task arises, it is good to revisit it.
There are other areas that don’t work so closely with product management in building the product. For these areas, a good tool to use is the Power-interest Grig.
The Power-Interest Grid is a concept first developed in the 90s by Aubrey L. Mendelow and later explained in the book “Making Strategy: Mapping Out Strategic Success”, by Fran Ackermann and Colin Eden. Based on the power and interest a person or team has in your product, you can classify them into four main categories.
It is important to note that each company has its own dynamics. Therefore, an area or person that plays a specific role in the power-interest grid of a given company may have another role in a different company.
These two tools are very useful for the product manager to better understand how to relate to the other areas of the company and how to manage their expectations.
However, those tools are more useful when combined with empathy, a fundamental tool for the product manager to manage her stakeholders. Empathy is the ability of one person to put himself in the place of another to understand his expectations. Their desires, motivations, needs, and problems.
This characteristic is important for the product manager to understand the customers and users of the product, to know how they relate to it, and what problems they expect to solve or what needs they want to be met. It also helps to understand the impact of your product on your team and people in other areas. Last but not least, the product manager also needs to put herself in the shoes of the owner of the product to understand their expectations of the results the product will bring to the company.
In the next chapter, we will start a new book section to discuss product portfolio management. Stay tuned!
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