As all we know there is a significant difference between need and want. suppose our organization assigned you a project to develop a new product that will increase sale by 20%.

My question is is it your responsibility as a project manager to search for the end user or consumer of this product and search for it's need and build requirement based on that?

I think: it's a lot of work to do, it's the responsibility of business analyst or marketing to search for these needs

Reason: I've a lot of other managerial work to do in the project and I cannot guarantee that this product will increase sales by 20%. it's out of my specialty!!

What about your opinion?

2 Answers 2


The answer is in your project charter. It all comes down to scope. If your scope included not only the development of the product but also the original business case of that product--which found a 20% ROI--then your project would have a PM who would have this type of expertise and that PM's project budget would include the business analysts and other experts to do this type of analysis and to reaffirm the analysis during product development.

If your scope is only the product, then you are only accountable for that product's development to the required specs within the cost and time you were given plus or minus a reasonable variance.

Take the Cessna 162 as an example. This is a small, two-seat trainer / light sport aircraft that Cessna gambled on to enter the LSA market. This aircraft likely had hundreds of project managers and teams that were responsible for various components of the small, simple plane. There was likley a product / program manager that was responsible for the plane to take it from design to prototype to certification to market to ROI.

Tons of those PMs delivered a successful product, all of which created the plane, which received certification and went to market. Many sold and are still flying today. But the product manager failed the overall program in that the plane did not return its ROI and Cessna abandoned the line. In no way can all those PMs and team be declared failures in meeting their scope and no way could they be accountable for the initial business case analysis, the chosen ROI, and its eventual failure.

It gets gray when the PM works as an employee instead of a contract hire for the company producing that product. So you need to force your definition of success and ensure that everyone understands where you scope starts and stops. You need to define separately project success, project manager success, program success, and product success. All of these have very different definitions.


I highly recommend reading Inspired - How to Create Products Customers Love. In Part 1 Marty Cagan describes, in general terms, the typically responsibilities for Product Management, Product Marketing, Project Management and, of course, Design and Engineering.

The product manager has two key responsibilities: assessing product opportunities, and defining the product to be built. - pg 2

To answer your question, I believe identifying the "true needs" of the customer, as opposed to the "wants" or "think they wants," to be an important aspect of "assessing product opportunities." This is no easy task (in many cases even the customers don't know their true needs), but great PMs are in touch with customers and potential customers, and constantly have their fingers on the pulse of the market. They collect as much data as possible and then use experience and judgement to determine if an opportunity exists.

That being said, however, working backwards (go find a product that'll increase sales by 20%) might be a challenging mandate. For this to happen, you need to start with an idea. Again, according to Mr. Cagan:

Typically, new ideas can come from anywhere - company executives, discussions with customers, usability testing, your own product team, your sales or marketing staff, industry analysts, to name a few. - pg 2

A lot of that is under the PM's purview, but putting the entire responsibility of generating ideas for consideration onto the PM doesn't sound reasonable, nor does it seem like a good idea. I hope that helps.

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