ES under Product Organization - what is your experience?

Ana Howes
Ana Howes Member | Enthusiast ✭

Does anyone know of an ES organisation that sits under Product organisation? I am curious to learn about what are the Pros and Cons of that set-up.


  • Spencer Hancock
    Spencer Hancock Moderator | mod

    Hi Ana,

    Thanks for posting this question, it will be good to hear some thoughts from others on an Education Organization aligned under a Product Organization.

    @Christy Vega , @James Meikle , @Melanie Gallo; Based on your positions as Education Services leaders I think it would be great to get your opinions on Ana's question.

  • Alexander Ziegler
    Alexander Ziegler Founding Member | Expert ✭✭✭

    My experiences and some advantages and disadvantages. I hope others add experience: If an organization has multiple products, and you would run in each product group your own training group with their own RtMs then there would be a big disadvantage, as Clients would get different Education solutions, and upselling from one product to the other would cause the Client to see the company as not consistent in skills. If you think of this a solution is to keep Education Development inside the Product Unit, but sell and deliver training in a separate Education Unit. This would give consistent Education Sales and Delivery, and give a much better experience for the Client. But you still struggle with the risk that each product owner develops different look and feel of Education, different styles of Education etc. So, this is definitely a solution if you have multiple product groups and you keep Education Development inside the groups. But: you have the strength, that Education and Product are close together. Sales of Product could include Education, you could build Education into the Product etc. Finally there is the solution to move Education separate from Product completely. You lose the close link to product, probably sales gets more complex. But you win as you can offer probably a perfect Education Experience to your Clients. From my point of view there is no real right and wrong, a lot depends on your company setup, the products, your clients and your companies Sales Incentive around Education. Please ping me if you want to discuss further.

  • PatrickCarmitchel
    PatrickCarmitchel TSIA Administrator | admin
    edited January 2021

    @Alexander Ziegler I appreciate the detailed breakdown of the reporting structure. As a product leader this is a very interesting topic. While basic product eduction/explainer content is common to have created in product marketing, report up into either marketing or product management, I haven't personally experienced many technology product leaders owning formal education services from training (virtual, onsite, etc.), to badging and certifications.

    I could see that advantage of education services offers being centralized to achieve the "Complete Product Experience" and accelerate value realization by including education services in the product rather than attaching later. However, I don't see much upside to product management overseeing education services from content creation to delivery. It requires a very different set of skills.

    @Maria Manning-Chapman I'd love to hear your take on @Ana Howes question about the pros and cons of education services reporting in product management. From the product perspective @Laura Fay, do you have anything to add?

  • Maria Manning Chapman
    Maria Manning Chapman Member | Guru ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2021

    @Ana Howes Based on ES benchmark data it is very uncommon for ES to report into the product management organization. Most commonly, the ES leader reports into a VP of Professional Services. I think it makes the most sense for ES to report into a service organization. So, either PS, Support Services or a Global Services organization. These organizations function as a P&L and are also services, so there are those commonalities relative to running ES as a business. The ES relationship with product management is certainly important and it is a key factor in content development. Product management is not a key factor in any other aspect of education services. Therefore, the best approach is for a content developer (CD) to be engaged at the beginning of each new product development cycle. The CD attends weekly status meetings that the product management team conducts and any other important meetings. A phase-gate approach is used in which certain content is completed at each phase of the development cycle. This tends to be the most effective approach for the timely release of content (e.g. content that is released as soon after product release, as possible). This approach also enables product management to serve as an SME team to content developers, which is essential, particularly when developing content for a net new product. I have a member company in which the content developers report into ES, but they physically sit with the product development team, to nurture this cross-function synergy. Well, at least they did sit with the product team when we were all going into an office somewhat regularly. I think that this is a great approach. Content developers report into ES, but sit with the product team. That is what I would recommend.

  • LauraFay
    LauraFay Member | Guru ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2021

    Great conversation here @Ana Howes. Could not agree more that PM & ES should have a very collaborative handshake to ensure that all education related context is evolved together with the product user experience. In fact the education content may well be embedded as micro just in time learning, in which case it is be an integral part of the product experience.

    In my career as a Product Management leader, I have never had responsibility for education services nor been aware of that function rolling up under the technology PM.

    Segueing in an adjacent topic, in your experience, who is most typically responsible for creating embedded micro educational content associated with context sensitive help that's embedded in the UX? - Product Management, Product Marketing, Documentation teams, Education Services, others?