A company where I am an advisor has the money in 2017 to hire a product manager, but I’m debating with the team here whether the money would be better spent hiring another freelance engineer. I feel like our engineering team is in-sync, understands what the company needs, and is aligned on how to get there. If this is the case, isn’t a product manager kind of redundant? To me it seems like I’d rather hire another engineer to get this done faster so I can shift our tech team’s focuses elsewhere sooner.
No - ithis very different. A product manager is a leader to make sure it is on time and functions as marketing intended. Building things faster that do not meet product/market needs is where many companies fail. No product management means no single point of accountability.
I think your answer resides withinyour question. "I feel like our engineering team is in-sync, understands what the company needs, and is aligned on how to get there."
In my opinion, the product manager should be brought on to make surethe needs of the market and the customers are included into the mix and then help the product / solution evolve and reach the desired goals and objectives. I have seen too many engineering projects turn into very cool products and solutions that no one ends up wanting to buy. There was no one responsible for a sanity check to make sure what was being created would be bought. That product manager should be the one defining the product roadmap and lifecycle and making sure it makes sense for your target customers.
As Dane Madsen and Daniel Kern said, the role of product management needs to be filled by somebody. Hiring more developers to build to the company needs doesn't make a successful outcome if the developers aren't delivering validated user value. Understanding the users, prioritizing the backlog, keeping hurdles out of the way, these are things that need to be done at some level regardless of whether you have a dedicated PM or not.
Thanks for the question. Being a product manager at present with a developer DNA, I would ask a slightly different question - where is your company in its journey? Meaning is company just getting started to build the product or does it have a product, customers in the marketplace.
Let's consider the first scenario - company is just getting started: My experience from talking to several start-ups in Bay area is that for a start-up of 20 or less developers with no product yet in the market must have the product vision, direction coming from its founders. To me if a company in such a situation is looking for a product manager, I consider as a red flag. The product managers are supposed to be leading the team in the direction where most value will be harnessed and during the early phase of the company that must come from the founders.
Now, let's say the company is in the second scenario where company is 20+ developers, the product is out and there're some customers. I think even if engineers know what needs to be built, I believe product manager can add more value. They can shepherd the product development that will maximize the value by constantly evaluating the existing product, market, customers and even come up with new opportunities.
My 2 cents!
Sorry - but this question just results in more questions: 1- how many engineers do you now have? 2- who provides guidance / answers questions, etc.? 3- how is the delineation of work done? 4- Can one of your existing engineers split their time between being a manager and still doing some work?
I am not a product manager but recruit them. The senior manager who come to me ask for three things in their candidates: creativity; execution; the ability to think like the user. I've had it hammered into my head that whether the PM has a technical or user experience background, that the last point is as important as all the other. As some of the other replies point out, nothing in what you are describing seems to address what the product will look and feel like when it's released.