Most companies don’t even have the concept of program manager. I think that’s too bad. In my time, the groups at Microsoft with strong program managers had very successful products: Excel, Windows 95, and Access come to mind. But other groups (such as MSN 1.0 and Windows NT 1.0) were run by developers who generally ignored the program managers (who weren’t very good anyway, and probably deserved to be ignored), and their products were not as successful.
Program managers are the people who write the specs, so as part three in my four-part series on writing specs, I talk about who they are, what they do, and how to hire them.