What is a Platform Product Manager?
A Platform Product Manager (PM), is one of the most challenging roles in product management. They are responsible for prioritizing and supporting the work of multiple consumer-facing products and providing a cohesive vision across the organization. However, platform PMs can still have a significant impact across product lines.
Whatever platform PMs build will typically be used by many teams and customers (e.g., operating systems like Windows and Mac OS; operating environments like Java; web services like Amazon APIs; and game developer platforms like XNA).
In addition to traditional product management tasks and duties, the role of a platform PM involves engagement with developer stakeholders. It also consists of the management of complicated technical requirements like APIs and other platform components. It requires a keen focus on security and resilience to protect end-users who depend on the platform to conduct business.
What Makes the Role of Platform PM so Challenging?
To be effective in their unique role, platform PMs must work well with a variety of groups and deliver outcomes that serve the business. They need to be comfortable redirecting praise towards others. They also need to be at ease having to say ‘no’ to stakeholders to preserve the overall vision. Here are a few more reasons why the role of platform PM can be challenging:
3 Tips for Platform PM Success
To be successful as a platform PM, follow these tips from Mind the Product:
1. Maintain a rock-solid QA:
“In a platform world, bugs in code aren’t irritants that can be easily fixed by a quick push to production, but problems that break the fundamental systems upon which your users’ products are built. Platform product managers must find creative ways to lead QA to best regression test products to suss out bugs.”
2. Aim for the long view:
“The day-to-day experience of being a platform product manager can feel like walking a marathon. Unlike in a solutions product role in which products are iterated on and shipped constantly, platform products require longer release cycles, which means careful management of user expectations and timelines.”
3. Regularly reassess priorities:
“Platform product managers have so many constituencies that a reassessment of priorities needs to happen much more often than in a solutions-based product world. Platform PMs must remain open to continue running through detail after detail with their constituency, so that they support them in their day-to-day use of the product, and understand their long-term needs.”