Evaluating a Product Manager's Performance

Question: "I am a product manager in my organization. How does one evaluate a product manager? During my appraisals, against what parameters should I be measured? What are the qualitative and quantitative measures?"

Answer: According to Blackblot's Product Manager's Toolkit® (PMTK) methodology, evaluation of any role in the Blackblot Product Management Team Model is done relative to two criteria:

  1. Role Goal – degree of attainment of the role's goals. This criterion is measured qualitatively.
  2. Role Proficiency – competency displayed in performing the role tasks. This criterion is measured quantitatively.

Role Goal
The product planner determines and defines product functionality by virtue of writing the market requirements and therefore the product planner's prime goal is to have product buyers and users who are satisfied with the product. This satisfaction level means contentment with the product's ability to solve business or consumer problems and satisfy needs, and being satisfied with the non-tangible aspects of product ownership such as service, price, warranty, status, or prestige. The product marketer's goal is to have a satisfied sales force. This goal is somewhat indirect to the marketing actions being performed but is an excellent predictor of how effective the product marketer's actions are in generating awareness, differentiation, and demand for the product. Salespeople have a relatively easy job when product marketers perform their roles well. The market environment that is created by the actions of the product marketer leads to a very favorable situation where the market buys the product as opposed to the salespeople actively selling the product. Salespeople are very happy when "the product sells itself" which really means that the sales cycle is minimal or reduced because of quality marketing actions initiated by product marketers. In summary, product planning's goal is satisfied customers and product marketing's goal is a satisfied sales force. The following table summarizes and depicts each role in the Blackblot Product Management Team Model with a short description of its responsibility and goal.

Role Responsibility Goal
Product Planner (strategic role) Identify and articulate market requirements Satisfied product buyers and users
Product Marketer (strategic role) Generate awareness, differentiation and demand Satisfied sales force
Sales Engineer (tactical role) Outbound product-centric activities, i.e., pre-sale support and product demos Customer knowledge of product value and functionality
MarCom Manager (tactical role) Conception and copywriting of all collateral material Consistent image and visual positioning in the target market
Director of Products (strategic role) Balancing corporate goals with long-term market trends and opportunities Successful formulation & execution of market and product strategies


Role Proficiency
In Blackblot's Product Manager's Toolkit® (PMTK) methodology there are two tools to evaluate the performance and ability of a product manager to execute the different role tasks. The PMTK Gap Analysis is a procedure for assessing how well product management tasks are being performed. The PMTK Performance Review is a product management merit and performance measurement process and tool. Both tools allow for a quantitative assessment or measurement of the competency level displayed by any role in the Blackblot Product Management Team Model in performing its relevant role tasks. For more information, please see the Blackblot Product Management Team Model, Blackblot's Product Manager's Toolkit®, and the "Product Management Team" chapter in the "Product Manager's Toolkit" book.

Blackblot Product Management Team Model