5 Very Simple Things Engineers Need From Product Managers

Today we're going back to basics. As product managers, we often get caught up in learning the latest and greatest technologies, methodologies, and products. Sometimes it's important to revisit the basics and remember what's important in our day-to-day.

As a product manager, it's important that you're respected by your peers, and also by your engineering teams. In order to build awesome products, your need to have a good working relationship with your dev team(s). Period. So how do you do that?

Here are 5 basic things engineers expect from their product managers.


1. Write Good User Stories/ Requirements

'Requirements' doesn't have to mean a giant scope doc a' la waterfall. Requirements now typically come in the form of well fleshed-out epics, user stories, diagrams and flow-charts that your engineers can easily scan, understand, and refer to. You're never too senior to write up requirements. Engineers respect product managers who can write clear user stories in easily readable formats.

2. Lead Purposeful Meetings

Scheduling a meeting with your engineering team - and then showing up without an agenda or clear goals - is a great way to piss off your engineering team(s). Engineers do not (typically) want to lead your meetings. Rather, devs expect product people to arrive to scheduled meetings prepared and ready to drive. Without any clear goals or direction, engineers will think (rightfully) that you're wasting their time.

3. Make Communication Easy

How easy is it for devs to communicate with you on a daily basis? Do you actively monitor Slack chat rooms where they're taking about your product? Do you respond to JIRA comments in a timely manner? What about good old-fashioned email? Do you ... <gasp>... talk to your engineers? You should be doing all of the above.

Pay attention to how engineers communicate in your org and make sure you're available via those methods. It's much easier to adapt to how they're already communicating with each other than trying to change habits to communicate in a different way.

4. Tell Engineers What Customers Want

Almost every developer I've ever worked with has expressed interest in what customers are asking for. Since engineers don't typically talk to customers, they aren't exposed to the voice of the customer as product people are. Engineers do want to know what customers are saying about the product, how they're using it, and what they're asking for. Make sure you communicate such customer feedback to your dev teams regularly.

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5. Communicate the Product Vision

Product vision isn't only for product people - engineers also need to know the grand product vision. Devs want to know what customers want, and they also need to know where product is headed. Communicate the product roadmap - changes and all - to your engineering team(s) regularly, so they can be as excited about it as you are. 

And now - most importantly - another red panda photo.