Anyone have any strong feelings about hiring PMs f...
# general
Anyone have any strong feelings about hiring PMs for your platform team?
We’re looking to do this for our team, but I’m not sure what the key differences are between a user-facing product team PM vs a platform team PM
I’m thinking maybe a deeper technical background might be desired? Since they’ll be talking mostly with other engineers throughout the organization instead of the general public.
I would recommend asking your team what they NEED from a PM specifically. That should tailor the list of requirements
I’m on the team
I’m being asked for that
I’m not sure how my needs translate into PM skills, tho
Generally speaking I want someone on my team who is on the same page. That means, he can effectively bring the team forward. If the person has some grasp of technology, they will know to carefully balance technical debt with stakeholder priorities, to get the best compromise possible
So during your hiring process, don’t shy away of asking questions exactly about these scenarios
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We're looking to do this for our team, but I'm not sure what the key differences are between a user-facing product team PM vs a platform team PM
I think the important thing to realise is that there is no difference. You build a product for customers. Your PM needs to be familiar with the problem your product is solving.
An IDP is indeed a technical product, but so are other customer-facing products (e.g. the Hashicorp toolset).
And I’ve been endlessly annoyed on calls with Hashicorp and others when I try to talk technical use cases and they need to bring in someone from the engineering side to talk with me. 😕
There is definitely no difference. Just never let this thinking sink in. Your customers are developers and we have to apply the same principles when we develop platforms. @Andrew Fong recently put this really well: in platform engineering we're much more software developers than we are ops/DevOps whatever. We build golden paths, we listen, we don't restrict, we iterate. We serve the user 100%, the user is the developer and yes, you want a PM. Does this PM have to be fulltime? No, but dedicated.
Another aspect of having a PM which I have found important is acting at the spokesperson for the platform amongst other product managers. When it comes times to get product teams to work on “platform” issues or organize migrations, what I’ve found effective is having someone who speaks the language of product management, has attended company product planning, manages the relationship with product managers throughout the business and owns a comparable product roadmap for the platform. Makes it much easier to get buy-in and support.
Quick thing on platform PMs - there are some nuances to the day to day tactics. By definition you’re in a monopoly so it becomes a bit harder to see if you’ve got PMF or if you’re just wielding a hammer and everything looks like a nail. (read this if you’re hiring PMs: Also there’s no “market analysis” in the traditional sense since its a bounded problem, there’s no “growth” funnel in the traditional sense needed etc. I see the real value of PMs in platform orgs as bridge the gap into the PM org itself - for example in a previous life DBX’s sync protocol sat in the platform organization but the Sync Protocol + Traffic engineering had deep and meaningful requirements into the Product itself (apple’s new file provider anyone) - the job here was more about aligning roadmaps at that altitude
I think PMs can be a crutch and an excuse for not holding engineers and engineering managers accountable for part of their job in Platform. I think if you look at levels and expectations for product engineering they will be supposed to be looking at providing customer value/product value and thinking in that lens. I’d challenge that most infra/platform teams are at that level yet. A good example - IC4 requires you to think about this “Product Expertise - I actively keep customer needs in mind and leverage input from product stakeholders as available to determine the right technical solutions to deliver customer value quickly” - this doesnt vary btwn Infra or Product Eng