Are PMs useless?

Microsoft ivanka
Jan 5 72 Comments

Never figured out what PMs actually do other than hijack meetings and get on people's nerves. They keep asking me to explain my work which is a complete waste of time since I have to communicate to tech managers anyways. I feel like the org will run smoother if they all got fired (and give us a TC bump). Can someone explain what PMs actually do? And is their TC high or low (I hope it's really low since they don't do anyt6hjng)

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TOP 72 Comments
  • Amazon Redux
    Any blockers? Anything I can do to unblock you?
    Jan 5 5
    • Exactly.
      Jan 5
    • Amazon / Product
      vmprwrkday

      Amazon Product

      PRE
      Google, Facebook
      vmprwrkdaymore
      It’s one of my favorite ironic statements: if you’re asking it, you’re actually blocking me.
      Jan 5
    • DXC Technology / Design QKxD27
      😂😂😂😂
      Jan 5
    • New / Eng i i i
      You tell them about your block and they disappear.

      You are welcome.
      Jan 5
    • Dell LMA🌚
      Tell them yes.
      Jan 5
  • LinkedIn
    plowing

    LinkedIn

    BIO
    Always plowing hard
    plowingmore
    What about scrum masters? We got a scrum master recently in addition to the PM.
    Jan 5 6
    • Amazon / Product
      vmprwrkday

      Amazon Product

      PRE
      Google, Facebook
      vmprwrkdaymore
      Oh god - worse than useless. Actively harmful.
      Jan 5
    • Microsoft / Eng
      MP3

      Microsoft Eng

      BIO
      Troll living under the I-5 overpass
      MP3more
      🤣
      Jan 5
    • Amazon / Eng Russian
      Is that an actual job title?
      Jan 5
    • Amazon Usernahme
      Scrum Master is a nice way to say "useless team janitor"
      Jan 5
    • Does that person have the proper scrum master certification?
      Jan 5
    • Amazon / Product
      vmprwrkday

      Amazon Product

      PRE
      Google, Facebook
      vmprwrkdaymore
      A minister license from the Universal Life Church has more value than scrum certification. At least as a minister you can officiate weddings.
      Jan 5
  • Amazon / Product yhskwkvznf
    A good PM doesn't have to ask how to unblock you. They see problems from a mile away and are a few steps ahead of you. You won't even know they unblocked you (and hence you'll call them worthless). All the engineering you're doing and all your JIRA stories come as a result of the customer research and product design that your PM did before your engineering manager even made the JIRAs you speak of. A PM makes sure the team builds the right product that customers want at the right quality in the right place at the right price. I've been an engineer before (a good one) and I know how it feels to think you're master of the universe with a high IQ, but that doesn't mean you'll build the right product. You have to intimately know your customers, business models, and competitors to set the right strategy and build the right product.

    Look at the Echo for example. I've seen some of the hackery under the hood (and as an engineer by training, I do know what good and bad engineering looks like). It is not a marvel of engineering. But it has sold incredibly well. It has done so because PMs saw a market opportunity, designed a product vision, and steered it in a direction that customers want.
    Jan 5 4
    • Microsoft ivanka
      OP
      I work on backend stuff and identify needs by speaking with technical team. PMs can't do shit since they have no clue how the frameworks are built. I'm not saying they are lazy but honestly they add 0 value to the team.
      Jan 5
    • VMware nitO16
      @ivanka depends on how the role is defined in your company/org. I've with with very valuable ones and very useless ones. The valuable ones made a difference, the others made us to want to pull our hair out. Wish pms are not telling you how to build your platform (the tech implementation is your job) - they will tell you what features customersn want and how to improve your product to stay competitive in your market. Hopefully your pm has domain expertise - without it it's hard to understand and contribute to any product.
      Jan 5
    • Microsoft pJcW86
      @ivanka you must be on Microsoft Teams then, building another shitty Microsoft product without direction or listening to the customer
      Jan 5
    • Amazon kuchnai
      You make a PM sound like Batman but in reality they are like Deadpool.
      Jan 5
  • New / Product
    bocam

    New Product

    PRE
    Accenture
    bocammore
    PM stops a variety of tickets and work coming your way by de prioritizing it before you even know. PM make sure customer gets what they really needed which pays for your TC
    Jan 5 0
  • Airbnb closurefo
    Mine is fantastic. Finds impactful projects and helps guide them along with thorough analysis, coordinating between design, legal, engineering, etc
    Jan 5 2
    • Intuit . 🤖
      Most PMs I worked with just ask about status on JIRA tickets.
      Jan 5
    • Twitch / Product CP0
      You work with project managers 🤖
      Jan 5
  • Microsoft Dr. Root
    99% of the PMs are just glorified email "Send" buttons. Absolutely clueless about the product. All they do is set up meaningless meetings and keep pestering folks to update their VSO task estimates.
    Jan 5 0
  • Microsoft NFca01
    Amen!
    Jan 5 0
  • Twitch / Product CP0
    It seems like you have bad PMs, sorry to hear it.

    Think about it this way: Do you know exactly who your primary customers are and why? Do you understand the qualitative motivations and needs of your customers? Do you quantify your team's efforts through metrics that align your customers' needs and your business' needs? Do you set the right goals for these metrics after top down and bottom up analysis to keep an entire team focused and accountable? Do you communicate these qualitative and quantitative factors up and down, left and right around the company so that the rest of the team doesn't get questioned by others you need to work with? Do you effectively convince executives why your team's mission and success matter to the company, meaning headcount shouldn't be flat or negative? Do you constantly work with uncertain input output situations (i.e. dealing with humans across finance, marketing, partnerships, sales, legal, privacy, ops) to figure out human problems at scale, often for the first time (not on Google/Stackoverflow)? Do you figure out what your product's compelling future looks like not just in 2019 but also in 2024? Do you keep updated on global technology and behavior trends to make sure the ship stays on the right course based on the latest info? Do you work backward from these things to assess what the roadmap looks like and how it should be sequenced and communicated? Do you do a ton of this behind the scenes work and effectively communicate the necessary parts for the team to get clarity in their own roles? Do you run to the fire and take responsibility while doling out recognition to the team?

    If you do all of this, you're either an awesome PM or an exec running a company.
    Jan 5 2
    • Microsoft ivanka
      OP
      PMs don't do any of that shit. Tech leads actually do a lot of the important stuff you mention. And yes I compute all the metrics since the PMs don't have a clue how to do that, all they do is take my numbers and wave them around to the higherups
      Jan 5
    • Twitch / Product CP0
      Like I said, it sounds like you have bad PMs. Or they're doing good work that they haven't communicated to you. Ask them what they do.
      Jan 5
  • New complow
    Project managers can all get fucked. Most worthless job ever. I don’t need 50 layers of indirection between product design and my code. Designers are much more valuable and in most cases can do the work of a PM far more effectively.
    Jan 5 0
  • Uber moyrwadv
    junior eng and their rants about PM. yawn.

    learn the diff between product and project manager first. sr PMs don’t have time to check whether some fuckin new grad is blocked or not. they always are.

    and yeah, TC. top 10 CS and top 10 MBA is quite common for PMs. you think they’re getting paid like shit? wanna compare your MS comp? fuckin hell
    Jan 5 3
    • Microsoft ivanka
      OP
      3/4 of the shit you typed makes no sense. Are you wasted this early on a saturday?
      Jan 5
    • Uber upptip
      leet harder, m8.
      Jan 5
    • New complow
      Found the PM!
      Jan 5
  • New DvVM00
    there are good ones and useless ones. just like the engineers dominating the conversation here in blind. i’d wager easily 50% of engineers posting here are worthless.
    Jan 5 0
  • Google Mqaz12
    A PM's job is to tell everyone to fuck off so the engineers don't have to, it's a huge time saver.
    Jan 5 0
  • Microsoft 😎 🍯 !!!
    They are useless!!!
    Jan 5 0
  • Amazon / Product Amznnn
    Get the fuck outta here.

    All the PM’s I know at Amazon, Google, FB, Uber, Hulu and Airbnb drive their products long term vision, roadmapping, balance prioritization between leadership/tech/biz, babysit the day to day developer bullshit (show up late, I want a free t shirt, mom where’s the meatloaf), work constantly with UX/Research, deal with BI’s inability to ever deliver anything, stroke their managers egos, beg for resourcing, deal with nonstop cross-team dependencies, sell your product vision, prove your product vision, stand ups stand ups stand ups, write user stories, requirements, listen to devs complain about user stories and requirements, deliver, sit at a retro about that deliverable and listen to devs cry some more.

    Anyone who says PM’s don’t do shit can get fucked.
    Jan 5 4
    • Microsoft 😎 🍯 !!!
      Chill man, did your significant other deny sex today?
      Jan 5
    • Apple / Eng blamer
      You seem like one of those useless PMs who has no clue on what to do in life. Engineers make amazing products, PMs just record estimates that engineers provide
      Jan 5
    • Amazon / Product Amznnn
      Lol no all around
      Jan 6
    • New ftUY50
      You really need to watch that clip in Steve Jobs when Woz asks Steve what he does. I think that’s basically what’s happening here.
      Jan 6
  • Uber aNft74
    Well they got a job because of their MBA degree which is also useless
    Jan 5 0
  • Intuit . 🤖
    A PM that excels in the role should comment here and clarify the value-add they bring to their organization.
    Jan 5 0
  • Square gdy57
    My PM is a rockstar and the team would be much worse off without her. She’s the glue and keeps things on the rails. One of the hardest working people I’ve ever worked with.
    Jan 5 0
  • Plated wenzel
    Sounds like OP has an underperforming/bad colleague and is using it as an excuse to neg a whole profession. Switch teams.
    Jan 5 0
  • New / Other
    Tarot

    New Other

    BIO
    Somewhere in the future.
    Tarotmore
    PMs don't really care that you hate them. Especially the good ones. They can't afford to be sensitive like engineers, programmers, or creatives. We get it your work is art or whatever, cool.
    Jan 5 0
  • Dropbox / Eng
    唔天克斯

    Dropbox Eng

    PRE
    Dropbox
    唔天克斯more
    No they are not
    Jan 5 0
  • Google amzng123
    It's simple --

    PM is responsible for "what"
    Eng is responsible for "how"

    PMs with the attitude that their primary job is to "unblock" are failing.
    Jan 5 6
    • Amazon / Product yhskwkvznf
      That's not entirely true. A PM certainly has to think about the "what", but they can't just toss it over the fence and say "now go build it and figure out how." A PM has to shepherd the product through to go-live, and that does require unblocking at times.
      Jan 5
    • Google amzng123
      Yes, this is a generalization. The "what" influences the "how" and reverse is true. That's why, in my opinion, PMs MUST have decent technical depth and adjust plans based both on users and on eng.

      Unblocking is great, but my point is that it should not be viewed as primary. Primary is making sure we are building the right thing with the right sequencing.
      Jan 5
    • Square gdy57
      You know, design is also a key pillar to product development. I’d argue product designers have much more ownership and influence over both the “what” and the “how” than eng and PMs do combined. Let’s be real, engineers just do what they’re told... most work done in this industry is routine enough that engineerings “how” is just how to make it possible in X company’s crappy tech stack.
      Jan 5
    • Google amzng123
      Design is important, so is marketing, so is sales, so are plenty of other functions. But besides Apple and maybe Snap, UX is a distant third or fourth in influence over product direction.
      Jan 6
    • Square gdy57
      😂😂😂

      This is why Google’s products always flop, way too much engineering influence.

      Engineers don’t understand people, or how to make things intuitive and elegant. The interaction layer and what the user sees and experiences usually makes or breaks the product, even if the code is top notch, because real people don’t give a shit or even know what code is, they just know they need to use X app to do Y and it better be easy.

      Sales and marketing have nothing to do with product development.
      Jan 6
    • Google amzng123
      Believe what you want, gdy. Perhaps designers should rule the world and the world just hasn't figured it out yet. Good luck convincing it, 2019 is the year! 😂
      Jan 6
  • Oracle BMjJ52
    Those who can't do, PM
    Jan 5 0
  • Riot Games GLHF 🤪
    Are we talking about Project, Program or Product Managers?

    Like any role they can be valuable or harmful depending on what they do and the context they work in.

    With that said I’ve seen plenty of Project Managers (PMI type people) be counter productive spreadsheet masters with little to no understanding of how tech actually works.
    Jan 5 0
  • Tableau sYtY52
    Good PMs are an amazing asset, I have had one good PM over my whole career,
    Jan 5 0
  • Microsoft 😎 🍯 !!!
    I have seen a lot of diversity candidates as PMs.
    Jan 5 0
  • Evernote bakbak🐔
    Great PMs can be a great asset to the team. My past few PMs have been amazing and very communicative.
    Jan 5 0
  • Microsoft blind1186
    Yes.
    Jan 5 0
  • Flagged by the community.

    • Twitch / Product CP0
      Lol. You have no idea what a good PM does
      Jan 5
    • Microsoft
      Shippedit1

      Microsoft

      BIO
      I print money.
      Shippedit1more
      Rofl. New is clueless.
      Jan 5
    • Expedia rudolphtrn
      Interesting, but did engineers really report to project managers? And did the author really mean 'project' manager? I know the titles were different back then but seems more likely he meant 'program's manager?
      Jan 5
  • New ftUY50
    Sounds like PMs at Microsoft are not empowered to do their job right. Makes sense. Microsoft is terrible at building products - they generally just seems copy what other tech companies do (normally worse).
    Jan 5 0
  • PayPal Imhd62@&$
    In PayPal, most PMs doesn’t even know basics of Computer Science
    Jan 5 0
  • Amazon / Other byeAMZhell
    PMs at Microsoft and Amazon are generally garbage. Other tech companies in Seattle headquartered from Bay Area say they have a hard time finding good PMs in Seattle.
    Jan 7 0
  • "I have people skills!!!"
    Jan 5 0
  • New thugL
    I have worked with both.The good ones are great,bad ones suck
    Jan 5 0
  • Apple / Eng blamer
    I use them effectively to schedule meetings and take meetings minutes. They are mostly good at it.
    Jan 5 0
  • Afiniti JMXK67
    As a Senior Project Director who has been a PM ( Principal Product Manager and Program Manager) for AI systems development, integration and deployment, I would like to stress that a PM who is not technical enough to guide an architect or developer on design related items is just simple overhead. When I was a PM I would take tough customer issues and unblock major problems. I would also better understand a client’s technical environment and sell technical solutions. Project management and Scrum Masters need to get out of non technical roles and gain respect of technical folks to be successful.
    Jan 5 0
  • Oracle
    IRS

    Oracle

    PRE
    Google, Facebook, Instacart, Twitter, Uber, Air Asia, IBM, Cisco
    IRSmore
    Totally
    Jan 5 0

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