I’ll begrudgingly admit that I don’t understand all the ins and outs of what makes product managers tick — but I do know that people, regardless of their profession, seem to enjoy research into how they compare to their peers. Self-image is always relative. And that’s how the idea for “Battle of the PMs: Differences in Product Management Styles Across the West Coast, East Coast, and UK” originated.
Regardless of where a product manager works, I’d always figured they basically perform the same function, report into the same groups, use the same tools, and guage success in the same ways. Surely you could pluck a product manager from San Francisco, drop her into a new company in, say, London, and she’d be able to jump right in without missing a beat, right? Not so fast.
Pendo recently analyzed survey results from product managers in the West Coast of the US, the East Coast of the US, and the UK, comparing them across several criteria including career path, decision-making, organizational alignment, core responsibilities, effectiveness, and job satisfaction. We discovered that product managers have many basic similarities, regardless of where they’re from, but geography seems to introduce plenty of variation. One such area is tool usage.
Tools of the Trade, by Region
Product managers from America’s East and West Coasts have the most in common when it comes to the tools they use regularly. In fact, both groups list the same exact tools in their top three (and they’re even in the same order):
West Coast = 67%
East Coast = 57%
- User feedback collection and/or management
West Coast = 52%
East Coast = 48%
West Coast = 46%
East Coast = 38%
When we look at product managers from the UK, however, we see a different story. Unlike their American counterparts, the number one tool among UK product managers isn’t prototyping software, but rather experimentation software (e.g. feature flagging and a/b testing tools). What’s more, product analytics software is among the top three tools UK product managers use regularly, which isn’t the case for PMs in the US.
So, how do we account for these differences?
As we explore in our report, the typical UK product manager reports to an individual line of business (as opposed to a dedicated product team) and sees achieving revenue as a core responsibility — something that isn’t as common among American product managers. As a result, UK product managers tend to spend more time experimenting and searching for ways to increase product/feature usage (so they can improve their bottom line). And, as a natural extension, they rely on product analytics software to measure the outcomes of those experiments.
Roadmapping Tools: The Universal Constant
Despite many geographic variations, product managers from the West Coast, East Coast, and the UK are still more alike than different. Case in point: All three groups include roadmapping tools in their top three.
Roadmapping products are the second most popular tools among UK product managers (with 42% using them) and, as you saw earlier, they’re the third most popular tools among West Coast and East Coast product managers (with 46% and 38% using them respectively).
Ultimately, regardless of their location — and the correlated priorities and responsibilities — all product managers see the value in mapping out what the future of their product will look like.
Grab Your Copy of Battle of the Product Managers
For a more in-depth analysis of the key differences and similarities between West Coast, East Coast, and UK product managers, download a copy of our new guide.