Here's a scenario, you have several years of engineering experience under your belt. You have also managed to get a part-time MBA during your career. And now your organization has moved you from engineering/dev-ops/tech. support to product management. Here is another scenario, you have been working as a business analyst in an IT services firm, and have worked for a few product development clients. And now a client in that domain has offered you a product management role.
Is it time to celebrate this awesome product management opportunity?
Well...read further. The following job features may indicate that you end up working as a business analyst.
Reporting to Another Product Manager
No brainer, if your reporting is not to senior management, in India or overseas, then only a part of the product management function is delegated to you. This aspect brings the role closer to a functional business analyst role.
Limited/No Engagement with Product Marketing
If your only engagement with product marketing is at an all-hands meeting or a town hall, then you are not engaged in any outbound product management activities. This also tilts your role towards business analysis rather than strategic product management.
No Involvement in 2-3 of the 4 P's of Marketing
You can figure out if this is relevant to your role, and whether you are able to work on these as a product manager or a business analyst.
Engineering is your Primary (or Only) Stakeholder
If you are working as a product owner, with limited product management tasks, then that is fine. You have a well-defined role which fits into the product management hierarchy, in today's agile world. But if you are called a product manager, and your reporting is to a Director of Engineering, and your primary stakeholders are the engineering team, then you might be working as a functional business analyst.
Your Main Work Output is a Functional Specifications Document
This is typically true in e-commerce firms or start-ups. Most product managers in such firms are actually working as business analysts, creating functional specifications, providing reports on product usability and usage. And product decisions are usually made by the senior management of these firms. Business analysts handle such activities in most enterprise software firms.
Limited Engagement with Senior Management in Business Units
Product managers play a strategic role in addition to taking care of tactical activities. If you have never presented on strategy, finance, operations, pricing, marketing plan, new product business case or another business metric to senior management, then you may be working as a business analyst.
Revenue ResponsibilityThis is a pretty big subject in product management, and will be taken up in another post.
There is nothing wrong with the role of a business analyst. BA's have a lot more exposure to the product and business domain than a regular product developer. The current challenge in India lies in the fact that firms require BAs and advertise for PMs, which sometimes leads to an expectation-reality mismatch.