Communication between Product Management and Development

Question: "I am finding it hard to ensure that my market requirements are clearly communicated to all developers in the project team. In the perfect scenario, I assume this would be the responsibility of the Project Manager, but that does not seem to cover all the bases in our organization. Can you recommend some best practice guidelines for this?"

Answer: Your request raises two distinct questions:

  1. How can market requirements be crafted in an unambiguous and structured manner?
  2. Which role should communicate market requirements to development personnel?

With regard to the first question, creating a properly-written (from a formulaic/formal or natural language perspective) market requirement is accomplished via several sets of guidelines, models and templates that comprise Blackblot's Procedural Requirements Management™, a methodology to create consistent and usable market requirements. For more information, please see the MRD Quality Metrics article.

With regard to the second question, according to Blackblot's Product Manager's Toolkit® (PMTK) methodology's Product Definition Team Model the Market Requirements are written in the Market Requirements Document (MRD) by the Product Planner. Product Requirements are written in the Product Requirements Document (PRD) by the Product Architect. For more information, please see the Product Planner Vs. Product Architect" article.

Accordingly, the Product Planner first communicates the market requirements to the Product Architect. The Product Architect then communicates the market requirements and the resulting product requirements to the Lead Developer (a.k.a. Project Manager or Development Team Lead in many companies). The Lead Developer communicates the market requirements, product requirements and the resulting technical specifications documents to the Product Developers.

As market requirements information passes along the line from Product Management all the way to Development it logically and correctly becomes less strategic and more technical, hence the unavoidable possibility of miscommunication and misunderstanding as to the original meaning of the market requirements.

So according to PMTK the task of communicating market requirements to the Product Developers is the responsibility of the Lead Developer (a.k.a. Project Manager or Development Team Lead).

The only recommendation that can be made at this point and based on the information provided in your request is that you be physically present (as a listener) in the meetings between the Product Architect and Lead Developer and in the meetings between the Lead Developer and the Product Developers in order to ascertain if the context and meaning of the market requirements is properly conveyed. Your continued presence at the meetings should help you identify the reason for the problem, following which you can take corrective action.