At a recent meetup for Product Managers (PM) discussing the relationship between UXers and PMs, an audience member asked a question.

“As a PM I know what I want my product to look and feel like. Why should I work with a UXer?”.

To which a bespectacled man answered with this metaphor of a custom tailored suit.

“I have a vision for my product, just as I would have a vision for my custom tailored suit. But I would not attempt to sew it myself. I would work with a professional tailor and rely on his expertise to have this suit made especially for me. In the same way, as a PM, you should not attempt to do UX for your product. Instead you should work with a professional and rely on their design and user expertise.”

What a great metaphor! The relationship between UX and PM is often misunderstood. PM’s are sometimes called the CEO of the Product, which implies an authority over the rest of the team. That’s not (or it shouldn’t be) the case. PM and UX and Dev need to work together to create a great product for the user. Each role is a pillar on which the product relies for success.

An authoritative relationship is not conducive to productive teamwork. Therefore the team will not create a good product experience for users. In a PM cycle UX should be involved right from the start and their involvement should ramp up as the project moves forward.

Productive UX-PM relationships are not possible without trust, respect, and communication. Just as an amazing custom tailored suit cannot be made without the client trusting the tailor to do their job and to do it well.

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