We’re halfway through 2017 and I have 6 months of producing the weekly KBPUpdate newsletter to reflect back on.
One thing that always bugged me was the name.
When I started I couldn’t come up with anything I liked better than KBPUpdate, so I just went with it. (Not wanting to let the perfect be the enemy of the good and prevent me from making progress.)
A couple of weeks ago I happened upon a different name–Inside Product Management.
There’s a couple meanings implied in this name:
- A view of the ins and outs of product management based on my experiences and those of other practitioners.
- A focus on product management for internal products – those products built for internal use inside an organization rather than for sale to those outside the organization.
I chose this focus because that’s where the bulk of my experience lies, that particular context is underserved, and there are many organizations that could improve how they provide products for internal use.
If you help your organization build or buy software products for internal use and your title is product manager, product owner, or business analyst, Inside Product Management is for you.
Inside Product Management will share stories about delivering internal products, how techniques commonly used to deliver products for sale can also be used for internal products, and how business analysts can increase the value they provide to their organizations by acting more like a product manager. The newsletter will also examine the various roles that can be grouped into the broader category of product people – product managers, product owners, and business analysts.
All the while, Inside Product Management will continue to share how you can practice the three habits of highly effective product people:
- Focus on outcome over output
- Build shared understanding
- Make sure decisions are made
In recognition of the new name and the sharpened focus, this issue of Inside Product Management includes posts that take a few different looks at internal products, as well another perspective on the relationship between product owners and product managers.
Kent J. McDonald
A Product Manager’s View of IT
I’ve found it’s always good to step outside of our echo chambers and take a look at things from the perspective of someone with different experiences. Marty Cagan comes from a background primarily of working for software product companies, and I find his perspective on the differences between IT work and software product fairly enlightening. This post has been around for a while, but it is still relevant, and it drives me to ask the question – why shouldn’t we try and bring internal products closer to the standards held for external products. (In the right conditions of course.)
In line with his view on IT organizations, Marty also wrote a piece comparing business analysts and product managers. I just recently found this, but found this particular line falls in nicely with my line of thinking: “The good news is that often these business analysts have the potential to be excellent product managers.”
The Existential Crisis for the Ages
While talking roles, I thought it would be good to share an additional perspective on the product owner/product manager conundrum. Melissa Perri recently wrote her perspective, and probably summed it up best when she said: Product Owner is a role you play on a Scrum team. Product Manager is the job. (Forgetting for a minute how much it sets my teeth on edge when people refer to a “Scrum Team”)
Lessons Learned from Working on Internal Tools
When product managers who work at organizations that sell software products discuss internal products, they often refer to them as internal tools. The experiences these product managers share working on internal tools can be very helpful for people who work on internal products in organizations where software is not the ultimate product. Tyze Whorton shared his experiences working on internal tools. The comment that I found most insightful from the post: “It’s far too easy for it [an internal product] to fall victim to the broken windows theory where poor design becomes the norm…”
Sometimes Conventional Wisdom Isn’t Wise
The conventional wisdom around software development internships is that work on internal products should be avoided at all costs. Cassey Lottman shared her experiences working on internal tools that led her to believe that the conventional wisdom is not always right. Her story points out some of the advantages of working on internal products, such as you have (or at least should have) much easier access to your users to get immediate feedback.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the name and the renewed focus of the newsletter. Please reply or leave your thoughts in the comments.
If you know someone working on internal products who may gain some value from a weekly rundown of resources, let them know they can subscribe to Inside Product Management.