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Getting Started on Product Management for Midsized Companies

by Vivek Swaminathan  |  March 11, 2020  |  Comments Off on Getting Started on Product Management for Midsized Companies

Respond quickly to business needs? Yes!

Embrace new ways of working? Yes!

Change everything about the way you run IT?  Wait…what?!

Midsize enterprises (MSEs) like the idea of product management, but struggle to get a meaningful start.  A number of obstacles, ranging from a lack of dedicated resources to no business partner buy-in, slow adoption.  But there is a simpler path that makes more sense for smaller IT teams.

Getting started requires consensus on the defintion of product management and its objectives.  Product management is the alignment of IT work by how it is consumed, not by how it is produced.  Once the defintion is established, socializing change becomes easier both within and outside IT.


A majority of midsize enterprises indicate they interested, piloting or implementing product management.  When examined in detail, however, a different picture emerges. (See Figure 1).  First, the activities central to product management are not being practiced widely.  Only about a third of organizations actually do the things central to product management.  And not surprisingly, the outcomes aren’t there either.  Again, only about a third of midsize enterprises are seeing the benefits of product management.

Figure 1: Activities and Benefits of Product Management in Midsize Enterprises 

This story is not new.  Remember Agile?  Midsize enterprises didn’t have executive buy-in, access to talent, or spare time to introduce new processes back then either, so they found their own path instead.  By opting for a lighter, partial version of Agile, MSEs avoided the dogma of one methodolgy applied across the entire portfolio, but they missed core activities and benefits along the way.  Ultimately, some MSEs found a way that worked, but not without lost time and money.

Instead, by targeting specific actions, MSEs can begin the journey to product management without learning things the hard way (See Figure 2).  By focusing on continuous business value delivery, establishing a few high-value products or combining dedicated key and shared resources, MSEs can avoid a trial-and-error approach to adopting product management.

Figure 2: Three Actions to Adopt Product Management in MSEs

If you want to understand how to adopt product management at midsize organizations, there is no reason to build that knowledge from scratch. Instead, it makes sense to leverage the lessons and best practices of other midsize companies that have already figured out the best way forward.  Access additional midsize enterprise guidance on or tap into our community of Midsize Enterprise Executive Partners to develop your IT organization.  Can’t access links?  Talk to us about becoming a client.

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Vivek Swaminathan
VP, Team Manager, Midsize Enterprise
9 years at Gartner

Vivek Swaminathan is a Vice President of Peer and Practitioner Research for Midsized Enterprises at Gartner. His team supports a peer network of CIOs at midsized companies with tools, benchmarks and case studies designed to empower small IT teams to do big things. Critically, teams that face similar challenges as larger companies need innovative and actionable solutions to deliver the same results with fewer people. Read Full Bio

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