Yesterday, a friend of mine commented on an article through LinkedIn titled A Day in a life of a product manager where 106 product managers from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies were surveyed about their roles and responsibilities, and how they typically spend their day. It certainly has some interesting and useful points, but there was one result in particular that I found peculiar.
And since Pragmatic Marketing has done something similar for 12 years with their annual survey with roughly 1300 respondents, I thought it would be fun to compare/contrast the points … and then see how it lines up with my typical day. I’d be interested to hear your opinions as well.
How Product Managers Spend Their Time
The result from the Alpha UX study that caught me a bit by surprise and led me to dig into this a bit more focused on the % of things product managers do on a daily basis. The article stated “In terms of day-to-day tasks, product managers reported engaging in both strategic and tactical work.” Ok, no surprise there … but when I looked at the actual percentages, I have to admit I was surprised by how high ‘strategic work’ ranked.
Not that strategic work isn’t important, but over the years within the organizations that I have been fortunate enough to serve in, it just seems that carving out the time for the strategic seems to go by the wayside when the urgent arises. Having a look at the Pragmatic Marketing data on page 6 of their 2013-2014 Annual Product Management & Marketing Survey supports this premise and seems to be more in line with what I have seen … we think its important, but don’t seem to be able to focus there.
Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings
On the other hand, the Pragmatic findings state that of the 49 hours a week Product Managers work, 18 hours are spent in meetings (or roughly 37%). The Alpha UX study states “unsurprisingly, meetings were the most common daily activity for product managers” with 90% of Product Managers engaging in meetings on a daily basis. I’m not sure about your environment, but 37% of my time seems a bit light!
How about you … what are your thoughts on the studies and/or how your time is spent? More strategic or tactical? More internally oriented, or finding the balance with external activities? Stuck in meetings all day (finding time in the margins to do actual work), or heads down cranking things out? I imagine much like these surveys, the responses would be across the board!