July 1

Deep-Dive: Enterprise Product Management

If you’ve ever wondered why managing products for large enterprises feels like playing 3D chess while your friends in consumer tech are playing checkers, you’re not alone. Enterprise product management is a different beast with its own challenges, strategies, and rewards.

But what exactly is enterprise product management? At its core, it’s the art and science of developing and maintaining software products that cater to the complex needs of large organizations. These differ from your run-of-the-mill apps that individuals can download and use in minutes. We’re talking about sophisticated systems that often form the backbone of entire companies’ operations.

As Rich Mironov, a veteran product management consultant, puts it, Enterprise product managers don’t just manage products; they manage relationships, expectations, and entire ecosystems. This encapsulates a key difference between enterprise and consumer product management. While consumer PMs might obsess over user acquisition and engagement metrics, enterprise PMs are often more concerned with long-term customer value, complex stakeholder management, and ensuring their product can scale across an entire organization.

The stakes are higher, the sales cycles are longer, and the impact of decisions can be far-reaching. A misstep in consumer product management might mean a dip in daily active users. In enterprise software, it could mean millions in lost revenue or a damaged relationship with a critical account.

In this essay, we’ll explore the nuances, challenges, and strategies that define success in the world of enterprise product management. Let’s dive in…

The Unique Landscape of Enterprise Software

The Unique Landscape of Enterprise Software

If consumer software is a speedboat, enterprise software is an oil tanker. It’s bigger, more complex, and requires an entirely different approach to navigation. In the enterprise world, the days of users swiping a credit card and getting instant access are gone. Blair Reeves and Benjamin Gaines, in their book Building Products for the Enterprise, lay out a typical enterprise sales process that looks more like a marathon than a sprint:

  1. Internal resourcing discussions at the customer
  2. Budget allocations
  3. Multiple sales calls and demos
  4. Negotiations on price, components, and architecture
  5. Contract signing
  6. Implementation (which can take weeks to over a year)
  7. Solution training

This process can stretch from 6 to 18 months, sometimes even longer. During this time, you’re not just dealing with a single decision-maker. You’re navigating a complex web of stakeholders, each with their own priorities and concerns.

This complexity requires product managers to wear multiple hats. You need to be part strategist, part diplomat, and part translator, articulating your product’s value in terms that resonate with each stakeholder group. It’s a delicate balancing act that requires both depth of product knowledge and breadth of business acumen.

Long-term Relationships vs. Transactional Sales

Enterprise software isn’t about one-off transactions; it’s about building lasting relationships. As Mironov puts it, “In enterprise, you’re not just selling a product, you’re selling a long-term partnership.”

This shift in mindset has profound implications for how you build and manage your product. You’re not optimizing for quick user acquisition or viral growth, metrics that often drive consumer product development. Instead, you’re focused on delivering deep, sustained value that keeps customers renewing year after year.

Pete Koomen, co-founder of Optimizely, learned this lesson as his company transitioned from a self-service tool to an enterprise platform. In his talk at INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, Koomen noted that selling to enterprises requires a much deeper understanding of organizational structures, workflows, and long-term business objectives than when his company was previously selling to smaller startup companies. It takes a much longer focus, meaning enterprise product managers need to think beyond the initial sale. You’re not just building features; you’re creating systems that become integral to your customers’ operations. This requires a deep understanding of your customers’ businesses, industry trends, and long-term strategic goals.

When Koomen and his team at Optimizely were refining their understanding of their target customer, they came to a crucial realization: “If you’re building a product for an individual, your job is to help them solve a problem. But if you’re building for an organization, your job is to help them create a system for solving problems.”

This encapsulates the scale at which enterprise product managers need to think. Your decisions affect not just individual users but entire organizations. A new feature might require a company to retrain thousands of employees or a change in your data model might force a customer to restructure their entire workflow.

The stakes are incredibly high. As Reeves and Gaines point out, in enterprise software, it’s not just annoying when something goes down – a single misstep could cost your customers millions in lost productivity or missed opportunities.

But the flip side is that the impact can be enormous when you get it right. Your product could help a Fortune 500 company save millions, enable a government agency to serve citizens more effectively, or empower a non-profit to expand its reach dramatically. The scale of potential impact in enterprise software makes it both challenging and incredibly rewarding.

This landscape demands that product managers think bigger and plan for the long term. You need to balance the immediate needs of individual users with the strategic objectives of entire organizations. It requires a unique blend of vision and pragmatism, big-picture thinking, and attention to detail.

Defining and Understanding the Target Customer

Defining and Understanding the Target Customer

With enterprise software, your customer isn’t just a person – it’s an entire ecosystem. Understanding this ecosystem is crucial to your success as a product manager. You start by solving problems for individual users, but soon, you’re addressing the needs of entire teams and, eventually, whole organizations. This shift requires a fundamental change in how you think about your customers. It’s no longer just about user personas like “Mary the Marketer” or “Dave the Developer.” Now, you need to understand the intricate dynamics of cross-functional teams and the strategic priorities of C-suite executives.

This evolution demands that you broaden your perspective. You’re not just building features; you’re crafting solutions that need to fit into complex organizational structures and workflows. As your customer base grows, not all accounts are created equal. This is where the concept of strategic accounts comes into play. Koomen describes how Optimizely took a list of about 20 customers who viewed experimentation as a critical business process and decided they would be strategic customers. Identifying and focusing on strategic accounts is crucial in enterprise product management. These accounts provide significant revenue and serve as partners in your product development journey. They offer deep insights into industry trends, complex use cases, and potential future directions for your product.

Rich Mironov emphasizes the importance of this segmentation. In his talk at INDUSTRY, he explained that enterprise product managers need to understand the different tiers of their customers – from the high-touch, strategic accounts to the broader base of customers. Each tier may have different needs and expectations.

But segmentation goes beyond just account size. You might segment based on industry verticals, use cases, or technological maturity. The key is to find segmentation criteria that allow you to group customers with similar needs and challenges, enabling you to develop targeted strategies for each group.

Building Deep Customer Empathy at Scale

In consumer products, building user empathy often involves techniques like usability testing or analyzing large sets of behavioral data. While these methods are still valuable in enterprise software, they are insufficient. An added layer of customer research is necessary, which involves:

  1. Embedded Customer Interactions: Spend significant time on-site with your strategic customers. Understand their day-to-day operations, sit in on their meetings, and observe how they use your product in context.
  2. Multi-level Engagement: Interact with individuals at various levels of the organization, from end-users to C-suite executives. Each level provides a different perspective on the value and challenges of your product.
  3. Industry Immersion: Dive deep into your customers’ industries to understand their trends, challenges, and regulatory environments.
  4. Cross-functional Collaboration: Work closely with your sales and customer success teams. They often have valuable insights into customer challenges and needs that aren’t immediately visible in product usage data.
  5. Long-term Relationship Building: Foster ongoing relationships with key stakeholders at your strategic accounts. These relationships can provide early warning of shifting needs or emerging opportunities.

Reeves and Gaines emphasize the importance of this deep understanding: “Only with full visibility of the customer can marketing craft stories and narratives around our product that connect with customers and users alike.”

Building this level of customer empathy at scale is challenging, but it’s essential for success in enterprise product management. It allows you to anticipate customer needs, align your product roadmap with their strategic objectives, and ultimately create products that become indispensable to their operations.

Remember, in enterprise software, you’re not just solving for user needs – you’re solving for business outcomes. The better you understand your customers’ businesses, the more effectively you can drive those outcomes through your product.

Product Strategy in Enterprise Contexts

Product Strategy in Enterprise Contexts

In enterprise software, the squeaky wheel often gets the grease – but that’s not always the best approach for your product’s long-term success. In his talk at INDUSTRY, Mironov painted a vivid picture of this challenge by noting how enterprise sales teams have a knack for pushing product teams for specific feature requests from 1 or 2 enterprise customers. This tension between customer-specific requests and broader market needs is at the heart of enterprise product strategy. On one hand, your largest customers often have the loudest voices and the deepest pockets. On the other hand, building one-off features for specific customers can lead to a fragmented product that’s difficult to maintain and scale.

So, how do you strike the right balance? Mironov suggests a pragmatic approach. He suggests having an allocation for special requests that you may be unable to avoid. But more than that, be sure to develop a great relationship with the Head of Sales, specifically, so you can work together when this issue arises.

You can’t say yes to every request. Instead, developing a structured way to evaluate and potentially accommodate strategic customer needs is important without derailing your overall product direction. Some strategies to consider:

  1. Extensibility: Build your product with customization and extension points in mind, allowing customers to tailor it to their needs without changing the core product.
  2. Partner ecosystem: For truly unique needs, consider fostering a partner ecosystem that can build custom solutions on your platform.
  3. Feedback loops: Create robust feedback mechanisms to understand the broader applicability of specific requests. A feature requested by one customer might solve a common problem many face.
  4. Strategic bundles: Package custom features into broader strategic initiatives that align with your product vision, turning customer-specific work into marketwide improvements.

In the enterprise world, your roadmap isn’t just a product planning tool – it’s a key part of your sales and customer retention strategy. As Blair Reeves and Benjamin Gaines point out, “In enterprise software, prospects are often buying into the vision as much as they are into the current offering.”

This means your roadmap needs to strike a delicate balance between being visionary enough to excite prospects and concrete enough to guide development. But be warned – the minute you share that roadmap with your sales team – you should expect that your enterprise customers will soon find that roadmap, too.

Given this reality, how do you approach roadmapping in enterprise contexts? Here are some key principles:

  1. Focus on themes over features: Instead of promising specific features, communicate broader themes or areas of investment. This gives you flexibility while still providing direction.
  2. Time horizons: Consider using time horizons (now, next, later) instead of specific dates. This allows for necessary pivots while still conveying a sense of prioritization.
  3. Commitment tiers: Differentiate between committed items, likely developments, and exploratory areas. This helps manage expectations both internally and with customers.
  4. Regular reviews: Review and adjust your roadmap quarterly, if not more frequently. The enterprise landscape moves fast, and your roadmap should keep pace.

In enterprise software, no product is an island. Your success often depends on how well your product plays with others in the corporate IT ecosystem. Integration capabilities aren’t just nice-to-have features – they’re often make-or-break factors in enterprise deals. Here’s how to approach this:

  1. API-first design: Build your product with robust APIs from the ground up. This allows for easier integrations and spawns a developer ecosystem around your product.
  2. Strategic partnerships: Identify key players in your space and prioritize deep integrations with their products. These partnerships can open up new market opportunities.
  3. Extensibility framework: Provide ways for customers or third-party developers to extend your product’s functionality. This can help address niche needs without bloating your core product.
  4. Integration marketplace: Consider building a marketplace where customers can find pre-built integrations or connect with partners who can build custom ones.
  5. Data portability: Make it easy for customers to access and delete data from your system. This will aid in integrations and build trust with security-conscious enterprise customers.

Remember, your product strategy isn’t just about your product—it’s about your product’s place in your customers’ broader technology landscape.

Cross-Functional Collaboration

Cross-Functional Collaboration

In enterprise product management – the tension between products and other groups can be a normal part of the process. Tension between the product and sales teams can be especially high at times. Sales are focused on closing the next big deal, while product is trying to build a scalable solution for the entire market. So, how do you bridge this gap?

  1. Understand Sales Incentives: Understanding the compensation structure for your sales team can help you anticipate and manage their requests.
  2. Create a Clear Process: Establish a formal process for evaluating and prioritizing sales requests. This could involve a scoring system considering potential revenue, strategic value, and alignment with your product roadmap.
  3. Empower Your Sales Team: Provide your sales team with the tools and knowledge to sell your product effectively. This might include feature battle cards, competitive analyses, and regular product training sessions.
  4. Regular Communication: Set up recurring meetings with sales leadership to discuss the product roadmap, gather market feedback, and align priorities.
  5. Strategic Trade-offs: Sometimes, it makes sense to prioritize a specific customer request, especially for strategic accounts. Be prepared to make these decisions, but do so consciously and with a clear understanding of the trade-offs involved.

If sales are constantly pushing for the next big feature, engineering is often pulling in the opposite direction, advocating for architectural improvements and paying down technical debt. Your role is to find the sweet spot between these competing needs.

Here’s how to navigate this challenge:

  1. Educate Stakeholders: Help non-technical stakeholders understand the importance of technical debt and scalability. Use analogies and real-world examples to illustrate the long-term costs of neglecting these areas.
  2. Allocate Resources Strategically: Consider adopting a model where a fixed percentage of development resources are always allocated to technical debt and scalability improvements.
  3. Tie Technical Work to Business Outcomes: When proposing architectural improvements, frame them regarding benefits like improved performance, reduced downtime, or faster time-to-market for future features.
  4. Regular Technical Reviews: Schedule regular reviews with engineering leadership to discuss the health of your codebase and infrastructure. This can help you avoid major issues before they become critical.
  5. Balance Short-term and Long-term: While delivering value in the short term is essential, keep sight of your long-term technical vision. Ensure your architecture can support your product’s growth over the next 3-5 years.

Aligning with Marketing: Messaging Complex Value Propositions

In enterprise software, your product isn’t just a set of features – it’s a solution to complex business problems. Translating that value proposition into compelling marketing messages is a crucial collaboration between product and marketing. 

Here’s how to foster effective product-marketing collaboration:

  1. Develop a Shared Language: Work with marketing to develop a common vocabulary for discussing your product’s value proposition. This ensures consistency across all customer touchpoints.
  2. Provide Deep Product Knowledge: Regular knowledge transfer sessions between product and marketing can help ensure that marketing truly understands the depth and breadth of your product’s capabilities.
  3. Collaborate on Customer Stories: To identify and develop compelling customer success stories. These narratives are often more powerful than feature lists in communicating your product’s value.
  4. Segment-Specific Messaging: Collaborate on developing messaging tailored to different customer segments or personas. The value proposition for a C-level executive may be very different from that for an end-user.
  5. Feedback Loop: Establish a process for marketing to feed insights from the field back to the product team. This can include competitor messaging, common customer objections, or emerging market trends.

Remember, as Reeves and Gaines point out, “Only with full visibility of the customer can marketing craft stories and narratives around our product that connect with customers and users alike.”

Effective cross-functional collaboration in enterprise product management is more than just attending meetings or sharing documents. It’s about truly understanding the perspectives and priorities of each function and finding ways to align them with your product vision. It’s challenging work, but it separates good products from great ones when done well.

Managing the Product Lifecycle

Managing the Product Lifecycle

Launching an enterprise product isn’t just about throwing a big party and sending out a press release (though those can be fun). It’s a carefully orchestrated process that often starts long before the product is ready.

As Pete Koomen from Optimizely learned, “In the enterprise space, if you’re the first your customers are hearing about a new product, it is only when it becomes generally available you’ve already lost valuable months of sales runway.”

Some considerations to make during the launch of an enterprise product include:

  1. Early Access Programs: Identify key strategic customers and involve them early in the development process. This provides valuable feedback and creates powerful advocates for your product.
  2. Tiered Release Strategy: Consider a phased rollout, starting with a small group of beta customers, then expanding to early adopters, and finally to general availability. This allows you to iron out issues and build momentum gradually.
  3. Sales Enablement: Your sales team needs to be fully equipped to sell the new product. This means comprehensive training, battle cards, ROI calculators, and demo environments.
  4. Customer Success Preparation: Ensure your customer success team is ready to support the new product. This might involve creating implementation guides, training materials, and best practice documentation.
  5. Tailored Marketing: Enterprise launches often require a mix of high-touch personal outreach and broader market education. Work closely with your marketing team to craft messages that resonate with different stakeholders in your target organizations.

Remember, as Blair Reeves and Benjamin Gaines point out, Enterprise SaaS sales cycles are routinely between 6 and 12 months. Your launch strategy needs to account for this extended timeline.

Once your product is in the market, the real work begins. Enterprise customers expect continuous improvement, but they also need stability. Balancing these competing needs is a key challenge. Considerations to make during this phase include:

  1. Regular Release Cadence: Establish a predictable release schedule. This helps customers plan for updates and gives your team a rhythm for development.
  2. Feature Flagging: Use feature flags to roll out new functionality gradually. This allows you to test with a subset of users before an entire release.
  3. Backward Compatibility: When making changes, maintain backward compatibility wherever possible. If breaking changes are necessary, provide clear migration paths and support.
  4. Usage Analytics: Use data to inform feature deprecation decisions. If a feature isn’t being used, it might be a candidate for removal.
  5. Clear Communication: When deprecating features, communicate early and often. Provide alternatives and support to affected customers.
  6. Grandfathering: Consider allowing existing customers to continue using deprecated features for a set period while new customers get the updated version.

All good things must end, and products are no exception. In the enterprise world, ending support for a product or migrating customers to a new version is a delicate process that requires careful planning and execution. End-of-life considerations to make include:

  1. Clear Timelines: Provide a clear, well-communicated timeline for the end-of-life process. This should include critical dates for the end of sales, end of support, and any migration deadlines.
  2. Migration Support: Offer comprehensive support for customers migrating to new versions or alternative products. This might include migration tools, documentation, and dedicated support resources.
  3. Data Portability: Ensure customers can easily extract their data from the old product. This not only helps with migration but also builds trust.
  4. Partner Ecosystem: Leverage your partner ecosystem to support migrations, especially for complex enterprise deployments.
  5. Incentives: Consider offering incentives for early migration, such as discounts on the new product or free professional services.
  6. Legacy Support: For some enterprise customers, you may need to charge a premium for extended support for the legacy product.
  7. Legal and Contractual Considerations: Work closely with your legal team to ensure all end-of-life activities comply with existing customer contracts and relevant regulations.

Remember, as Reeves and Gaines note, a good end-of-life process for your product leaves customers feeling supported by a well-organized business partner they are likely to work with again. Your customers realize, too, that all products likely need to come to an end at some point. But how you support them in that process makes a significant difference in whether they’ll continue to work with you on your modern products.

Organizational Structures for Enterprise Product Teams

Organizational Structures for Enterprise Product Teams

Your organizational structure can differ between a well-oiled machine and a chaotic mess. Here’s a breakdown of critical roles you might find in a mature enterprise product organization:

  1. Product Manager: The core role is responsible for product strategy, roadmap, and cross-functional coordination. In enterprise contexts, PMs often specialize in specific verticals or product areas.
  2. Technical Product Manager: This position focuses on more complex, technical aspects of the product. It is the bridge between product management and engineering, often diving deep into APIs, integrations, and architecture decisions.
  3. Product Operations Manager: This role manages the processes and tools that keep the product organization running smoothly. It becomes increasingly important as product teams scale.
  4. Product Marketing Manager: Works closely with product management to craft messaging, prepare sales enablement materials, and drive go-to-market strategies.
  5. User Experience (UX) Designer: In enterprise, UX designers often need to balance complex functionality with usability, creating interfaces that can handle sophisticated workflows while remaining intuitive.
  6. Product Data Analyst: Dives deep into product usage data, customer feedback, and market trends to inform product decisions.
  7. Product Owner: In Agile environments, product owners work closely with development teams to manage the backlog and ensure sprint goals align with overall product strategy.

As your enterprise product grows, so too must your product organization. Considerations to make as you scale include:

  1. Product Line Structure: As you add more products or modules, consider organizing your product teams around product lines. This allows for deeper specialization and focus.
  2. Vertical Alignment: For companies serving multiple industries, aligning product teams with specific verticals can help build deep domain expertise.
  3. Customer Journey Mapping: Structure your teams to align with different stages of the customer journey, from acquisition to expansion to retention.
  4. Matrix Organization: Implement a matrix structure where product managers have a functional reporting line (to product leadership) and a business unit alignment.
  5. Centers of Excellence: Create specialized teams for cross-cutting security, performance, or analytics concerns. These teams can support multiple product lines with specialized expertise.
  6. Product Operations: As you scale, invest in product operations functions to standardize processes, tools, and metrics across product teams.

Leadership in enterprise product management requires a unique skill set. You’re not just building products; you’re navigating complex organizational dynamics within your company and your customers’ companies.

There are several considerations to make as you develop leaders within your enterprise product management organization:

  1. Cross-Functional Exposure: Rotate high-potential product managers through different functions (sales, customer success, engineering) to build a holistic understanding of the business.
  2. Executive Presence: Provide opportunities for product managers to present to and interact with senior leadership internally and with customers. This builds the communication skills crucial for enterprise contexts.
  3. Financial Acumen: Ensure your product leaders understand the financial implications of their decisions. This might include training on pricing strategies, ROI calculations, and economic modeling.
  4. Industry Immersion: Encourage deep dives into specific industries. This might involve attending industry conferences, reading trade publications, or even short-term embeddings with critical customers.
  5. Strategic Thinking: Develop your leaders’ ability to think strategically about product-market fit, competitive positioning, and long-term product vision.
  6. Mentorship Programs: Pair junior product managers with experienced leaders within and outside the product organization.
  7. Leadership Training: Invest in leadership development programs that focus on the specific challenges of enterprise environments, such as managing stakeholders and driving organizational change.

Building a strong organizational structure for enterprise product management is about more than just drawing boxes on an organizational chart. It’s about creating an environment where product managers can effectively navigate the complexities of enterprise software, drive value for customers, and grow into strong leaders.

Challenges and Pitfalls in Enterprise Product Management

Challenges and Pitfalls in Enterprise Product Management

Enterprise product management is fraught with unique challenges that distinguish it sharply from consumer product management – as noted throughout this essay. One of the primary challenges in enterprise product management is managing a vast array of stakeholders. Unlike consumer products, which typically have a straightforward user base, enterprise products are used by diverse organizational groups. Each group—from end-users to C-suite executives—has its own needs, expectations, and success criteria. This complexity requires enterprise product managers to be adept at stakeholder management, ensuring that the product meets the varied demands while aligning with the overarching business objectives. Balancing these interests often involves significant diplomacy and communication skills.

Another significant challenge is the lengthy sales cycle, which can last six months to over a year. This extended duration is due to the need for detailed evaluations, numerous sales calls, demonstrations, and negotiations, culminating in a lengthy implementation phase. Product managers must navigate this prolonged process, providing continuous support to sales teams, tailoring product presentations to different stakeholders, and ensuring the product remains attractive and relevant throughout the sales cycle. The long sales process can strain resources and require a persistent and strategic approach to maintain momentum and interest.

Integration and customization requirements add another layer of complexity. Enterprise products rarely operate in isolation and must integrate seamlessly with other systems within the organization’s IT ecosystem. This necessitates robust APIs, extensive customization options, and, often, bespoke solutions for key clients. Managing these integrations and customizations is challenging, as product managers must prioritize flexibility and extensibility in their product design while ensuring that these custom solutions do not detract from the overall product vision or create technical debt.

Operating in highly regulated finance, healthcare, and government industries brings additional constraints. Products developed for these sectors must adhere to strict regulatory requirements and compliance standards. Ensuring that the product meets these standards adds complexity to the development process. Product managers must stay abreast of relevant regulations, incorporate compliance considerations into the product design, and work closely with legal and compliance teams to mitigate risks, often resulting in longer development cycles and higher costs.

Managing technical debt and scalability is another significant challenge. Enterprise products must be scalable and robust enough to handle the demands of large organizations, requiring a substantial investment in infrastructure and architecture. Balancing the need for new features with the imperative to manage technical debt and ensure scalability can be difficult. Product managers must make strategic decisions about when to prioritize technical improvements over feature development, often negotiating with both engineering teams focused on maintaining the technical health of the product and sales teams pushing for new features to close deals.

Enterprise products also require extensive support and training. Given their complexity, users need comprehensive training to utilize the product effectively, and organizations often need ongoing support to address issues and optimize their use of the product. Product managers must work closely with customer success teams to develop robust training programs and support structures, including everything from detailed documentation and training sessions to dedicated support teams and personalized onboarding processes.

Balancing customization with the product vision presents yet another challenge. Enterprise clients often request specific features tailored to their unique needs, which can lead to a fragmented product if not managed carefully. Product managers must balance these customization requests with the broader product vision and strategy. This involves setting clear boundaries on what can be customized and ensuring that core product development remains aligned with overall market needs. Strategic decisions about feature prioritization and resource allocation are essential to maintaining a coherent and scalable product.

Navigating these challenges requires a combination of strategic foresight, strong stakeholder management, technical acumen, and the ability to balance competing demands. Enterprise product managers must be adept at managing complexity and ensuring that their products meet the needs of diverse user groups and align with the long-term strategic goals of both their company and their clients.

Summing it all up

Enterprise product management is a unique beast, demanding a blend of strategic foresight, robust stakeholder management, technical acumen, and the ability to juggle competing demands. Unlike consumer products, enterprise solutions require navigating lengthy sales cycles, managing complex stakeholder relationships, and ensuring seamless integration within a vast IT ecosystem. It’s about solving intricate business problems and delivering sustained value over quick wins. The stakes are high, with missteps potentially costing millions, but the rewards are equally significant—your product can drive substantial efficiencies and unlock new capabilities for entire organizations.

The complexity of enterprise environments means that product managers must think beyond the immediate needs of individual users and consider the broader business outcomes. Building empathy at scale, maintaining flexibility for customization, and aligning with regulatory standards are just part of the job. Success hinges on a deep understanding of customer ecosystems, strategic alignment with business objectives, and continuous collaboration across functions like sales, engineering, and customer success.

Remember—in enterprise product management, you’re not just delivering features; you’re crafting solutions that become integral to your customers’ operations, fostering relationships that can span decades. While the challenges are many, those who master this craft can drive transformative change within some of the world’s largest organizations. The impact you can make is enormous, and the journey, though challenging, is immensely gratifying.

Mike Belsito

About the author

Mike Belsito is a startup product and business developer who loves creating something from nothing. Mike is the Co-Founder of Product Collective which organizes INDUSTRY, one of the largest product management summits anywhere in the world. For his leadership at Product Collective, Mike was named one of the Top 40 influencers in the field of Product Management. Mike also serves as a Faculty member of Case Western Reserve University in the department of Design and Innovation, and is Co-Host of one of the top startup podcasts online, Rocketship.FM. Prior to Product Collective, Mike spent the past 12 years in startup companies as an early employee, Co-Founder, and Executive. Mike's businesses and products have been featured in national media outlets such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, CNN, NPR, and elsewhere. Mike is also the Author of Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of us, one of the top startup books on Amazon.


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