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As a Product Manager in the internet space, I’m constantly amazed at how often the line between Product Management and Product Delivery is blurred… Sometimes this is a result of company structure – where Product Managers are actually developers in a planning role, or you’re small enough that your Product Managers are wearing several hats – but often is the result of simple misunderstanding of the division of roles.  So in true hip-hop fashion, let me break it down for you…

The WHAT and the HOW of Product Management and Delivery

I’ve long stood by the principle that from a development perspective at least, Product Managers should define the “What” and developers the “How”.  In practice its a bit of a blurred line, but if you think of the How as meaning HOW to accomplish WHAT you’ve specified, it’s a much clearer picture.  But the idea continues a little further than that to essentially isolating “How” for developers, and every other question type is the realm of the Product Manager.

Who? What? When? Where? Why? What if? – all are necessary for a clear product definition, regardless of industry.  To better expand, and possibly even provide a framework for your specifications, here’s how I think of them:


Who are you building this for?

Who will be using it?

Who should have a say in what is built?

Who is funding this?

Who is building this?

Who is maintaining this?


What are you building / creating?

What should it do?

What impact should it have?

What will be tracked?

What makes this successful?


When will this project start?

When is it supposed to be finished / released?

When will it be communicated / marketed?


Where will it operate?

Where will it be built?

Where will it be sold?


Why build it now?

Why are we the best to build it?

Why not buy a solution? / Why build it?

What If?

What if the project fails?

What if the project is late?

Feel free to use this to your heart’s content!  How do you do these things?  let me know in the comments!

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