Everyone needs to know what we do here

Technology marketing and product management requires domain expertise. People who tell you otherwise probably aren't very effective in working with developers and engineers. Domain expertise helps product managers connect with buyers and users to truly understand what they need and not just what they want. Domain knowledge steers marketing communications to effective programs with a clear message for the buyer. Likewise developers and engineers. When a judgment call is necessary--and this is often--a developer who understands the customer profile is more likely to make the correct choice. Gone are the days when we could have "coders" who programmed to someone else's design. At least, those days are gone when businesses investigate outsourcing. In Cooper's May newsletter, Dave Cronin writes, "Everyone's talking about outsourcing and offshore development these days. It's been on the cover of major newsweeklies, featured prominently on the West Wing television show, and a topic of conversation around boardrooms and discussion groups. Regardless of your personal position on trade policy, globalization looks like it's going to be a fact of life in the software industry." Read his article Designing products for offshore development.

In particular, Cronin emphasizes the increased importance of complete product design in the context of outsourcing. And firms sending good, complete designs offshore will achieve good results. Good design = good result. Jobs not requiring knowledge of the market and products are ideal candidates for outsourcing. There are outsourcing firms in all aspects of technology including development, marketing programs, and for that matter, sales can be outsourced too, can't it? If a job at an ERP (or tools or whatever) vendor can be done by anyone without knowledge of that space, why do it internally? Our developers, engineers, and product managers embody a terrific collective of domain knowledge... or should. We can allow more freedom and creativity in the design and implementation if the team members understand the customer problem. We can communicate in shorthand when both sides know the domain. Employees cannot be ignorant of their business. Product managers are learning to be more business-oriented. Marketers and developers need this too. Read your company's annual report. Make sure you understand your company's business strategy and challenges. Be able to participate in a strategy conversation. Otherwise, if you say "just tell me exactly what you want, " you're competing with outsourcing firms saying the same thing... at a fraction of your cost. Don't get so caught up in technology that you lose sight of the business.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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