Certifications for Product Managers… and more

October 15, 2010

I recently found the great resource page made by Blackblot called the “Blackblot Product Management Industry Resources“. The page list organization delivering specialized trainings or certifications for PMs as well as product planning software and books.

So yes, Blackbot is doing the promotion of their method and toolkit (Product Manager’s Toolkit™ -PMTK- methodology) but not only, there are also listing the competition (such as Pragmatic Marketing). [As a side note, I’d like to say something about Blackblot certificate you can see on the left – I do understand the whole thing about concept and everything… but.. really a black dripping point? It’s nice to show you do have a sense of humor… but I’m not buying this, sorry.]

Something to note while looking at this page. Did you notice? Certifications are only based in the USA or UK. And I’m right away jumping to conclusion: not a surprise. Marketing is already difficult to understand and apply in its full scope in Europe and specially in latin countries… PM certification is altogether another step as most companies are still having a hard time to figure out they might be needing a “somewhat project manager” to help delivering training, documents and the like in time with product shipment. And this is really a source of frustration. A year ago I had the opportunity to meet with several French startups at various stage of their early development (9 month to 3 years).

These early periods are always exciting to me… of course there is so much to do… but each single step forward has a huge impact for the company. This is exhilarating … almost like a drug… identify the gap, dig and diagnose, propose solutions and implement… and bang! result is measurable right away. A PM / PMM dream😉

So, I was telling you about my meetings with these French startups. They were looking for a something technical marketing to help them solve a specific problem. In most case, they were lead by a manager having a sales background having direct contact with the head of development. No head of marketing, only marketing operational. After meeting with them, I was highly disappointed, not only by my findings – to name a few:

  • the sales manager was afraid of loosing his control on the product – as if managing the versions and evolutions would prevent him from getting key new features required to sign important deals (afraid of not being in this sponsor role illustrated here on the side)
  • in fact they were “only” needing for someone to produce documents to help them sell – they could manage the rest directly with the development
  • there were always running after a very wide target market – unable to explain the key product difference (non-technical) their product was having on their customer business
  • most were trapped in the grey area of wanting to build a channel while keeping the good margins for them by selling direct.

but also by the fact they were trapped in this state, perceiving the issue they were trying to fix as a stand alone problem, unrelated to their lack of strategic or marketing vision. So I did my best to rise questions, help clarify goals, issues… but too many questions lead to distrust and fear of loss of control. And to tell the truth, I was not interested in the do-the-doc-only part of the job. Frustrating to know you can help, to be a natural team player and to face people that cannot understand you are not the least interested in being the next big guy in their company.

Luckily not all startups are like that… the surviver figure out there know how to use all hands available and not to be afraid of marketing😉


It’s all about leadership…

September 11, 2010

A short post to relay a post by OnProductManagement.net tittled Why do we undermined ourselves? Great question. Saeed is doing a great job at underlining the words that tell about this in PM and PMM specialists texts – such as being the glue and the gap filer in the company organization. I cannot say I’ve never filled that way.

Saeed is also right in the fact we as part of marketing should be actively leading and showing the way, that PM are an important part of an organization towards a better business. Now, the fact that Saeed is not saying is that many companies, many sales and development organization do not see it like this and tend to save money by under staffing their PM and PMM teams. So yes… we have to help companies do a big change and understand PM and PMM are productive and that money spent in their salary has a significant impact on the business.


What is product management?

September 5, 2010

The folks of Brainmates posted a very interesting presentation that is supposed to summarize their thoughs concerning Product Management (link to Brainmates post: “What is product management?“).

Well, I’m saying above this is supposed to summarize talks they had with clients, collegues and friends… I’m not saying this is not really the case😉 but.. to me this presentation is a great summary of what Product Management should be. The high end of it, in charge of product strategy, having regular meetings with customers, having the time to think ahead and a complete team of people to work on the daily product follow up.

So either Brainmates is just making a nice job at selling us the nice story of PM as the great consultant they are indeed, or most product managers are dreaming of the perfect PM job. Or maybe… the two combines.
Still…. this is a great overview… and I recommend having a glimpse of their Ressources page also – always helpful to see how others are doing.

Long time not seen

August 11, 2010

A short post today… but it took me a while to think about it🙂 It’s been a long time since I last posted and… here  is the reason why.
I took a new job at the end of last year and was initially legitimately caught up into the initial integration / learning your product / learning your people stage. My intent was not to stop blogging. But after a period I faced two things: I found it difficult to blog about the new space I was working on while sill being in the learning curb (yeah, the perfectionist in me…), and may be more important I found it difficult to blog about my daily work life. This got me to think a lot. I mean so many other are doing it naturally, why can’t I? I this a cultural issue? Is this related to me only? A good part of it is privacy concern… part of it is cultural for sure…

The fact is that I do not like to expose my difficulties at work – either they are momentary (and I’m a quick learner) or they are structural… And exposing them won’t do me any good. Ok so now? I am still working at trying to use my work experience to fuel my blog… Blogging is a great tool to help the learning curve, open to other subjects, take a step back etc.  So stay tuned… I’ll be back🙂


A local Product Marketing?

November 4, 2009

Yesterday evening I was talking with a friend – she is a sales in a well-known corporate data management software editor -no name right😉. This company is doing well, R&D is based in the states, they have sales office all around Europe and sell to large accounts with a lot of custom service.

To my surprise my friend was telling me that Europe teams had been asking for years for a Product Marketing (PM) to be based in Europe without any success. Seems the unofficial reason was this request was considered as a risk for the US based PM team – risk to loose their control over the product – hiring a subcontractor to localize the product material was good enough. They must be kidding, no? And what about these risks:

  • loosing contact with European customers by not collecting needs and evolution requests and thus opening a highway for smarter competition,
  • not taking in account the cultural specifics of European countries to fine tune sales messaging,
  • not building a caring relationship with chosen customers for beta testing,
  • not having a local resource to train your sales team and work with direct marketing.

Ok maybe this is just a communication problem: French have a tendency to take one English word for another in business: like using Product Manager instead of Product Marketing Manager. Here is the difference:

  • Product Manager: deals with product features and works with R&D -collecting, writing market requirements, following competition, driving road-maps. In short, the product manager deals with inbound tasks associated with the product development.
  • Product Marketing Manager: deals with the marketing, that is preparing the tools for the teams in charge of selling of the product. This includes many outbound tasks like writing market requirement documents, data-sheets, preparing PPTs, training sales team and also pricing and supporting local direct marketing teams.

Note:  check Wikipedia for an interesting comparison of the two profiles in high-tech companies.


My October best list

November 4, 2009

Here is a selection of posts and tools I’ve liked in October.

On  Social Media tools:

On Product Management:

On other subjets:

Tools I’ve tried:

  • Remember the Milk with it’s Gmail integration – nice TODO list😉
  • HootSuite a web based Twitter client offering multiple account, custom search and Tweet later option. In addition to TweetDeck and useful when you are on the go without your computer.
  • and stopped using:
    • TweetAdder – tool to automatize followup, send nice message, schedule tweets and much more. Limited to one Tweeter account in demo, no way to have several messages in different languages and… too much automatizing kill the connection.

Feel free to add yours in comments😉


#FollowFriday, #MusicMonday: Any more coming?

November 3, 2009

I’ve found a new hashtag on Twitter: #MusicMonday or #MM – The idea is copy of the #FollowFriday or #FF, share music or band you like on mondays. If you are wondering what about #woofwednesday? Well have fun here🙂

Here is a cool site referencing Twitter hastags:  wthashtag.com with cool usage graphics for each term – check http://wthashtag.com/Musicmonday.

Interested in knowing more?

  • #FollowFriday:  “How it works” & “The Anatomy of a trend” posts by Mashable.
  • Who are the top FollowFriday Twittos, check TopFollowFriday.
  • Checks tendancies for #FF here on Wthashtag – +60 000 tweets on October the 30th!!
  • There is even an automatic tool for you to send #FF:  Autoff.com – but to tell the truth, it can be helpful to get facts -who you’ve been RT the most- but the whole idea behind #FF is quality and you should explain why you like someone posts, not just send lists and lists.

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