After I publicly gave him a hard time for it, I got thinking about what a strange
thing it is to be a program manager, and that some people might be interested in what
we really do. I'm therefore going to talk about what I do from time to time.
The last few days, I've been trying to create a summary of an SDR the C# team held
recently. An SDR (Strategic Design Review, Software Design Review) is when we bring
in a group of customers, NDA them, and then show them what our plans are for the next
release. They then tell us what they think, and we go back and revise our plans based
on that feedback.
To create the summary, I go through the official notes we have, the MP3 recordings
we made, and the summaries that other people wrote, and try to pull out the salient
points for each session that we want to use to get the right things happening. Whenever
possible, I use customer quotes, because if a customer says, "It would be better for
customers if you killed <x> and forced your customers to buy <y> instead",
it's not *my* opinion, it's the customer's opinion.
An SDR is always a humbling experience, as our attendees a very good at telling us
what we're doing wrong (and believe me, we're doing a lot wrong).
The summary will be created as a powerpoint presentation (being good at powerpoint
is an important PM skill), which will be forwarded throughout the developer division.