Program Manager role at Microsoft

Wed, August 13, 2008, 12:56 AM under Career
Everyone close to me that knows I recently changed jobs keeps asking me what it means to be a feature PM (not to be confused with Product Manager which is primarily a marketing role). The Program Manager role is so complex I am having trouble explaining it. I am not ready yet, so I will revisit the topic in the future but someone once told me:
"a product needs developers to write the code and testers to test it. There are other things involved with shipping a product and the PM does those".
So far I can share that I spend 75% of my time in meetings. The funny thing is that I used to view meetings as a waste of time, but for the first time in my career I am actually having tons of useful meetings. The reason is probably because most of them are of the brainstorming variety (where by the end your creativity juices are just oozing all over the place) or of the unblocking variety (where at the end someone is unblocked and can do their job, which they couldn't do without that meeting having taken place).

Looking at it from a different angle it seems that there are several hats that a PM wears and I find myself alternating between writing specs, project managing, testing scenarios on the product, creating walkthroughs, threat modelling, writing demos/samples, liaising with sister teams, liaising with internal customers and, finally, preparing to imminently liaise with developer customers (both inbound and outbound comms, gathering feedback and sharing the vision) when we release it.

Some view the "drawback" of this role being that: you have tons of responsibilities which you can only deliver via a team on which you have no authority. Read that sentence again. I think this is what differentiates this role from others outside of Microsoft. I actually enjoy this because it creates a true team spirit. Because most new PMs seem to find this the hardest part, most experienced PMs focus on sharing tips on how to overcome this "hurdle". Today I found such a post that advises on the success patterns for PMs (with many good links).
Monday, August 18, 2008 1:37:00 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
That's good but if you could explain to me what the heck these Microsoft Project Managers do in Microsoft Consulting I would love to know cause they do none of the things you listed, well except go to meetings and talk alot. I would just love to know what in gods name they are suppose to do, other than charge the customer a crap load of money and pretend to do stuff?
Monday, August 18, 2008 3:18:34 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Anonymous: Why not ping me offline with the aliases of the actual people that you feel did not offer you the service that you deserved? I know you agree that blindly accusing all Project Managers in MCS across all countries is neither fair nor actionable.
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