04014 Where Should Product Management Report?

This week’s topic is an exciting one: where is the best place to locate Product Management in an organization? Bring it up at your company if you want to spark a lively debate.

It’s a sign of the immaturity of the profession of Software Product Management that there doesn’t seem to be a standard job function where Product Managers report. Companies are all over the map when it comes to which part of the organization is in charge of Product Management.

So often Product Management is not viewed as a vital function at a company, since its purpose and focus is poorly understood. If you read about the management team of a startup, or even a larger software company, you would be shocked if it didn’t include a Finance or CFO function. You’d be pretty surprised if there were no Marketing function. But I’m willing to bet that a large number of experienced venture capitalists and entrepreneurs wouldn’t notice if Product Management weren’t mentioned in the job descriptions of the management team.

And because Product Management for software is as young as it is, you would find very little consensus in the industry about where the Product Management function belongs in the org structure.

Yet if you take a systematic, consistent approach to Product Management, the answer to where the function belongs becomes clear. Read below for a discussion of the various areas where Product Management reports today, with the associated strengths and weaknesses, and where the function belongs in a well run organization.

When it comes to determining where Product Management should be located in an organization, there are a number of issues to consider.