This is a question that is asked many times. And it should be answered on multiple levels:
- How many product managers should be responsible for the output of a development team of size X?
- How many product managers does your company of size Y need?
- What type of product management organization is needed/possible for Z product managers?
There is a good article by Siraj Khalic about this topic: https://medium.com/atomico/europes-product-management-problem-9061bc71dc99. For the “Y” above, he writes about a status quo median ratio of 1:34 in Europe (aka if your company has 60 employees, you have a maximum of two product managers on average). For the “X” above, the number of 1:24 (aka if your company as a development team of 24, you have one (!) product manager on average).
If you take a look from another angle: Let’s assume you are working agile. Your individual squad size should not exceed six to eight. And this number (1:8) is confirmed by Siraj for the Valley, but not for Europe. I have experienced many cases where one product manager was responsible for two scrum teams. Sometimes supported by a “Requirements Manager” or a “Junior PO.”
Let’s finish this post by discussing “Z”. The size of your company is limited by the number of product managers you have and how you organize them – not the other way around. Let’s image you have a development team of 200. With the ratio 1:8, it would require 25 product managers. As one product lead cannot work directly with so many product managers, you need to establish a layer in between. E.g., you could have one Product Director with 3-4 Heads of Product reporting to him/her. This requires senior product leadership. If you don’t have this in place, the outcome of your 200 employee development team will be suboptimal.