A “Release Manager” is NOT a “Product Manager” – and vice versa

Somewhere along the way to what you THOUGHT was a path to Product Management, you may have fallen into an unexpected role.

Your Execs (especially CTO) is setting the road map.  To sales you are just “road map” boy or “demo monkey”.  And the rest of your time is taken up with just managing the schedule and tasks timelines for the next release, from development to commercialization.


Instead of a Product Manager, you have become a “Release Manager”.  Some people (correctly) staff this role with someone good at project or program management.  But beware – if you are a true Product Manager, this isn’t you.

Instead of minding timelines and bugging R&D and marketing to meet deadlines, you should be out there talking to customers and figuring out what the market wants (see my post on NIHITO).

It’s true at small companies, Product Managers may have to wear a lot of hats, including that of a Release Manager – but if this is you, I would strongly recommend that you recruit someone from R&D (the Engineering Manager) to play the role of Release Manager, with you minding the milestones for release steps like sales training, collateral development, etc.

Like Product Management, Program / Project / Releases management is a specialized discipline.  So if you want to TRULY be a Product Manager, this is a role that you need to find someone else to own.

Now, this is just my OPINION – so people can agree or disagree -but to me this is like asking a sales rep to be a sales engineer, or trying to be both a “mom” and a “dad” – circumstances may dictate that you play both roles, but isn’t it better to have two people?



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