Product in Norway 2023
Are you led by a product vision and strategy formed by customer research or are your product decisions done by management handing features to develop down to the team? Are you doing user research at all? How often are you releasing new features, and how do you measure success? And maybe what you all are wondering about, are you paid as well as the rest of the product people at your level?
These questions and many more have been answered by over 200 product management professionnals in Norway.
Just a quick disclaimer: This analysis is in English because of trying to accomodate as many as possible this Year, but we'll do a rethink next year on what makes sense. The numbers are also from the presentation, we'll try to get a better setup for next year.
After removing other disciplines (design, engineering, etc.) we were left with only 8 PM professionals answering the English, so we focused on just the Norwegian respondents. 212 were part of the first survey, more than 50 percent more than the first version of Design i Norge 💪🏻😅
Obviously a fairly gender neutral crowd, although a slight majority of males. We're also a tad bit older than the Design crowd, which has 53% in the age bracket of 26-35 👵🏻
Not surprisingly, but a majority of respondents are based in Oslo. Maybe a slight bias because of our network, but probably also because the tech and product environmnet is more mature in this city.
The respondents are coming from a range of different companies. We do see that product is a big thing in the public sector, but also scale-ups are constituting 1/4th of the respondents.
A very large majority of people have permanent employment in product, which might lead to us definitely supporting Cagans saying of missionaries vs mercenaries.
A large majority of respondents also comes from large organisations, which might skew the results towards those a bit.
That might also explain why 1/4th work in organisations with more than 20 product teams, which is really, really large 🤯
The respondents have a wide range of experience, but almost 40% actually have worked in product for 6 years or more, so we're an experienced bunch of people.
The Norwegian product community is a well educated bunch, with more than 60 percent having completed a masters degree.
And as we all probably know, we come from a range of fields. Sure, most of us has a computer science or business background, but even political science and psychology is fairly normal in product.
The survey had a range of respondents, but almost half has a product manager position, and if we add Senior and Group PMs, it constitutes 55 percent of everyone.
We all hear about how product managers are the busiest people working crazy hours. Stories from Silicon Valley talk about 80 hour work weeks. In Norway, the median is 41,5 hours, and there aren't much variation between seniority either.
And (without anything to compare it to) we seem like a fairly happy bunch. An average satisfaction rate of 7.52 seems pretty high.
And I think we fairly conclusively can say that product managers in Norway have taken user centricity to heart. Looking at all the numbers, we all seem to talk users all the time.
Almost 2/3 has talked to customers or users within the last week. Add on the last month and we're at 85 percent, which seems crazy high.
We don't see huge differences across the different type of companies either. Some smaller variations are to be seen, but we do see that in general we all talk to users pretty often.
That is also something we see, when people talk about how they measure success. It is either measured by active users, retention, engagement, etc.
This could also be explained by the fact that design got a seat at the table. Product, tech and design is a part of almost every product team, with 83 percent all have design, 88 percent has product management and 94 percent has engineering. Interesting to know how the 6 percent without tech are building product 😅
However, how teams are organized is very varied, with almost identical share with trios, POs, project teams and PMs running the show.
And some differences, where startups are skewed towards having a trio, and public sector having more project teams.
Towards other roles, we see that data analysts rarely are a part of the teams in startups, which might not be that weird, considering the stage.
And in the public sector they love their SMEs (subject matter experts)
The user focus is great, and a fundamental part of all product work. To solve real user problems. But it is pretty interesting how little importance it seems like people are putting on business value.
And this is indicative of how product feel. Business and numbers are annoying.
And we can also see that by looking at what people think are the most important challenges. Not much about delivery on the business goals, but organizational worries.
And incredibly, we don't worry about finding product market fit. Only 5 percent think this is an important challenge.
And while we earlier saw that over 60% measure success in user goals only 1/4 measure success by financial goals or market share.
And of the top tools product managers use, we all seem to use Figma (the designer's most important tool), with more than 8 of 10 using that. Analytics tools, like GA or Amplitude constitutes a total of 56 percent when added together. Why is that?
One third have a clear strategy, and about the same number doesn't. But scarily only 7,5 percent actually use a strategy 🤯
And we see that there aren't too many that base the product strategy on insights, with 33 percent of startups and 19 percent in the public sector.
But we also see that not a lot of people worry too much about the strategy. It seems like most people are all good on that end.
We see the same in product vision, with little more than a third have a clear product vision,while a bit less don't have it.
And only 1 of 10 actually validate theirs product vision with their end users. We assume the rest are pulling it out of thin air 🌬️😏
We do see that many use their strategy and vision to prioritize. However, very few use sales and management. Going back to the business aspect, we can potentially assume that if sales and management was a bigger part of that process, it could lead to more business focus.
In the public sector a lot are basing their prioritization on legal requirements.
While in the startup environment, it looks totally different. No one from startups claim they use legal requirements to prioritize.
And we do see that decision making is actually in the hands of product. There has been much talk about the fact that CEO or HiPPOs decide, but it usually comes down to the product org. (46%), product manager (54%) or the trio (38 %).
There are also several ways of visualizing the work. From strategic roadmaps, to now, next and later, to backlogs and OKRs.
And OKRs seems to be popular, everywhere but in consultancies.
And while we are a happy bunch, looking at the 7,52 average satisfaction. We also do struggle a bit, and find that there are some unrealistic expectations.
And this is indicative of some of the struggles. People feel like their doing open heart surgery while running a marathon. Not easy 😅
And, as mentioned earlier, we care little about challenges in actual product development, but much more about challenges within the organization.
And that might also be because a lot of people feel they're working well in product, but that outside circumstances are bringing a whole other set of challenges. But this is interesting, as managing the needs outside the actual product team is a huge part of what product is all about.
So, all the struggles in the last section might also be the reason why we're all looking for our next gig.
Ok, so one third is actually happy where they are. In total, about two thirds are open for changing their jobs, with 18 percent actually looking actively for their next job.
And when asking people why they changed their job the last time, it is encouraging to see that more than half are reporting that an exciting new opportunity is why they quit.
But when talking about what would be important when looking for a new job, it is actually finding a product org. that is working better that is what they're "all" looking for. Although a lot would prefer a higher purpose, better compensation and more influence. It is interesting that one out of five actually needs a better work life balance, when the average work week is at 41,5 hours a week.
Especially when we look at that in relation to our salaries. Because in general, people in product make a lot of money.
Because an average product manager in Norway is paid almost 900 000 kroner a year, which is a huge difference from general salaries in Norway. An example is nurses, which have an average salary of around 500 000 kroner. We do see an increased salary based on role, with a dip on group level (which might be explained by low number of respondents).
And we do see that, even though there aren't large differences between the genders, there are slight variations between men and women.
And we also know that there are a large majority of women working in the public sector (> 60%) and an even larger majority of men working in scale ups (> 75%). That can explain most of the wage gap.
But one of the most important aspects of getting paid more is to work for longer in product. The more years you have the better you're paid.
And to get a better salary, leveling up is also a key element. And looking at that, a lot are looking for coaches.
And we se that almost half are actually getting coaching from people with product management experience, while over half aren't getting any coaching.
It is also really interesting to see that what we're looking for more skills within strategy and vision, which plays nicely into the fact that a lot don't really have that already. Whether we feel we know all about delivery or we're just not that interested is another important question. Product is all about delivering value to our customers and users, and withoout being really good at delivery that won't happen.
And we're all a bunch of sheep, and we're all pretty much reading the same books and listening to the same podcasts. Cagan, Torres, Perri and Lenny are obviously all the rage in product.
It is however encouraging to see that a lot are also learning from their colleagus.
And why do people love product? Because:
"Muligheten til å gjøre en forskjell"
"At det alltid kan forbedres. Eller legges ned."
"Det å lage et produkt som løser et behov i markedet og treffer brukerne er utrolig givende"
"Når det er gøy, er det veldig gøy!"
"Skape noe nytt fra en ide"
"Bidra med noe verdifullt til samfunnet"
"Muligheten til å gjøre hverdagen til folk litt bedre"
"En dag er aldri lik den neste! Levere faktisk verdi fremfor å lage ting på bestilling."
That was the gist of the survey and the responses. We already look forward to next year and the next iteration.
The survey was created by Marius Røstad, with help from Ida Aalen during spring of 2023 to get an understanding of how product management is doing in Norway. It was distributed through IxDA, Produktleder.no and personal networks.
The survey was closed at the beginning of June, and the responses was analyzed by Marius Røstad and Marte Nes during early autumn.
This is not meant to be a serious research project, but a runthrough of the most important numbers from the survey, with some reflections.
Thanks to Produktleder.no and IxDA for partnering and distributing the survey. Thanks to Joana Pereira for translating to English. And thanks a lot to Kristian Collin Berge, Erik Story, Yvonne Svae-Grotli, Arber Zagragja, Fredrik Matheson and Are Westerink Sandvik for helping out with quality control and sparring. A final thanks to Netlife for hosting a great presentation of the results.