In my last post I talked about the many different types of program managers. I quickly realised that there are more than what I could cover in a single post. 

Here are few more flavours of the program manager role that I’ve come across:

The “Devices”-PM

I work in a software team, but – while this is the majority of my company’s business – we also have plenty of hardware teams. The main difference between “The Traditional”[-PM] that I mentioned in my previous post and a “Devices”-PM is that the planning cycles are often a lot longer. That makes sense as building hardware simply takes longer and needs more traditional planning than the comparatively agile change cycle in software. 

It’s also important to recognise that there is a “Traditional/Devices” hybrid PM type. Think about teams that program the software that directly interacts with hardware and or middleware that controls hardware. The hybrid type is particularly interesting as often their group’s key performance indicators will dictate whether they use the language, tools, and planning cycles of a hardware or a software team. 

The “Account Manager Plus”

Like many other technology companies Microsoft achieves scale for its products through its system integrator partners and independent software vendors that utilise its platforms. 

There are a variety of programs that support SIs and ISVs by offering incentives like platform/hardware discounts, and credits. All of these programs have at least one program manager looking after them. Program Managers in these roles own the process of assessing eligibility for and approving discounts and credits, but they also spend a significant amount of their time building and maintaining close partnerships with the companies and organisations eligible for their program. 

The “Listener”

In the past Microsoft got a lot of feedback about not listening to feedback. It’s partly for that reason that all larger product groups have at least one program manager who looks after customer engagement and feedback. This includes:

  • Monitoring social channels
  • Running early adopter and preview programs
  • Collecting feedback from focus groups
  • Designing and running feedback surveys
  • Ensuring that escalated support cases are followed up on 

In this and my previous post I explored the different varieties of PMs that I have come across. I covered the six most “common” types of PMs, but there are a lot more. Usually – if you can think of it – there will most likely be a PM role that deals with it.