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"So the product manager winds up actually having to use the software, by hand..."

maybe this is startup-land naivete speaking, but I pity the company whose product manager doesn't routinely use their own product.


What if your product is creating giant networked ovens for Nabisco assembly lines?

What if the product is an Enterprise Firewall Spam Detector IDS Bad Guy Defeater Gateway Proxy with more feature check boxes than atoms in the human body and the PM (who is a PMP, obviously) has a BA in English with a minor in interpretive dance?

What if the product is a series of experimental HIV vaccines?

Not every product in the world is a consumer webapp.


Good points. You definitely got me on the HIV vaccines, although that would be one quality-conscious product manager!

The number one skill a good product manager should have is being able to understand what the users need (not always the same as what the user wants, of course). Using the product, when possible, is a great shortcut. When it isn't possible, customer understanding is going to require phenomenal communication and imagination. That said, I would still be very wary of putting someone without some domain knowledge in charge of speccing out a super complicated product.

In my experience, generally product managers expect to be using a finished product. If the product manager is finding bugs that means that the QA process didn't do its job.

I'm a lot more hands on, but only because I've never experienced a QA process that actually did its job.

I dream of a world where bugs are fixed before features are added so that the product is in a shippable, usable state at all times and the PM can play with it all through the dev cycle.

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