My boss got 1M for a project inside our large company. She wants me to lead a large project integrating several lines of business as a Product manager, but the team will belong to another business unit that we will have to pay for.

This team has a Product Area lead, a Scrum master, and several developers. During the kick-off call, I gave an overview of the scope of the project and priorities.

Basically, the team product leader told me this: "We are experts, just give us the money, we'll speak to business, we'll understand the requirements, we'll implement the project, don't worry." He also suggested some of my priorities were not worth the effort and not adding value, which I can defend only weighting in my boss vision, but with little technical or business arguments.

Before the meeting was finished, the Scrum master was already trying to set up a call with other stakeholders (or what she understood were the stakeholders, mainly heads of other units) and business experts to discuss priorities, lay down organization, and modus operandi.

As soon as my boss realized that, she immediately called me and told me I should "drive" the project. I kind of understand her concerns...but I'm not sure how to take this in my hand. I'm the product manager but my technical and business knowledge are limited in the area of this particular project. Nobody will consider me as a lead. And for some reason, I feel that the "product manager/owner" is the less important role in the company.

I'm more like just the custodian of my boss reputation, a placeholder (so she can get funding), a proxy, someone that can be easily bypassed and overruled.

Any suggestion?

2 Answers 2


Tough spot to be in. I recommend proceeding with caution. Especially because of this statement:

We are experts, just give us the money, we'll speak to business, we'll understand the requirements, we'll implement the project, don't worry.

It's a bit arrogant. I'm not contesting their abilities, they can indeed be experts. But every project is unique. They are not even willing to listen to you. How will you make sure they build what you need and not what they assume you need?

Even if you lack technical and business knowledge in the area of this particular project, your boss still wants you to drive this. The 1M is comming from you. So you are responsible for how that money is spent. You need to make sure the money is spent on the correct thing.

My suggestion is to position yourself as "the customer". Trust what they are doing, but ask to be informed and involved. If you end up with differences of opinion, someone needs to decide how to proceed. They might know best, but they also need to convince you with arguments. Like I said, each project is unique. If something is different for your project, the path they usually take might not be valid in your case.

So try to position yourself as the beneficiary of the work. Which you are. And ask your boss to help get the message across, so that you are included in this effort.

This might be seen like a power move, and some might not like it. So because of that, you need to start familiarizing yourself with the technical and business knowledge of this product, just so you have enough information to understand what's happening and can make decisions. But that will anyways need to be something you have to do if you want to be successful at this assignment.


If the team is using Scrum then the appropriate role and title for you is Product Owner, not project manager or lead. If you are to be the agreed PO then you should set the goals for the product and for each sprint, prioritise the items on the backlog and then allow the team to plan and deliver each sprint based on the priorities you set them. It's usually a good thing to encourage the team to talk to various stakeholders as long as they are doing so within the context of the goals you have set them. Of course they should validate their findings with you as PO.

Perhaps things didn't start off well because you weren't clear about your PO role up front. I suggest you start them off with a short sprint (one week maybe, or two weeks max), give them a few priority things to deliver and work from there.

Another piece of advice I would offer is to manage and deliver the product(s) rather than the project. Products normally matter more than projects and it's best to keep that precedence in mind always. You are a product manager you say, so I mention the point only because of the slightly unfortunate title of this fine forum!

  • Hm yes, I am indeed the PO, but the team has also a "product area lead" which reports to a different boss. It looks to me like a "2 POs" kind of situation...
    – ARisseu
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 0:28

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