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What is a Microsoft Program Manager? :-)

Posted by manxp on January 1, 2007

A picture is worth 1000 words:

The arrows indicate what you have to worry about:

1) Customers should not have to worry about anything. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they are right. A PM just might have to make a code change to get a fix to a customer ASAP.

2) Dev, Test, and Doc only have to worry about the current release, and only about their bit of that release. They also have to be focused on the specific technologies they need to do their jobs. That is why a PM should not touch code: we don’t necessarily know how it is all put together. Of course, the good Dev, Test, and Doc people know what customers want, what is coming down the road, etc. and the good PM does know how everything is put together.

3) The PM has to worry about the Dev, Test and Doc teams. This includes making sure that communication is flowing, that we are all working toward the same goals, etc. The PM has to make sure the product is what the customer wants and needs. The PM has to make sure that the project plans for the next releases are being developed, and that the next releases will address the customer issues that just can’t be addressed it the current release. And the PM has to worry about everything else.

I’ve also included the lines indicating who reports to the PM. That’s right, nobody does. We are on our own. What we get out of Dev, Test, and Doc is what they want to do. We have to convince them that they want to do what we think is needed.

I’m not tyring to be too serious here. This is an interesting description of what it sometimes feels like to be a PM at Microsoft and it does give you an idea of the various responsiblities involved. However, in the end, it is all about team effort.


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