October 22, 2020
REPORTING STRUCTURE FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE PRODUCT TEAMS
Successful product teams drive innovation by receiving input from a variety of stakeholders including sales, marketing and customers and in many organizations that product management team reports to the CTO. While this arrangement is efficient for early stage companies who undergo frequent strategy pivots, it may cause significant issues as the company grows including:
- Lack of management visibility into the progress of product initiatives
- Misalignment between technology investments and market strategy
- Chaotic or inconsistent prioritization process
- Product features that are over-designed for edge cases
- Proliferation of skunkworks and engineering initiatives with poorly defined Return on Investment.
Companies which achieve industry-leading Corsis Scores related to software development process consistently feature a product management team that is positioned as an internal customer of the software engineering group and reports into a non-technology business executive, such as the COO or CEO. This structure fosters a healthy tension between product and technology and often improves accountability for the technology spend, efficient prioritization and improved communication with business stakeholders.
In addition, once this change has been made, we observe that industry leaders will also embed product managers as active participants in the entire development process rather than passively managing requirements.
Corsis benchmarking data illustrates that this simple structural change can create high-performing product teams and create significant improvements in accountability, innovation, visibility and alignment between the product strategy and the technology team. Adding a strong, independent product ownership role will also enhance communication between the business and the technology organization, improving corporate culture along the way by alleviating the frustrations commonly experienced by business stakeholders.