Contributed by David Macy, Illustrator Sr. Product Manager
I sometimes think of the job of Illustrator Product Manager as being Mayor of a great city. This city has millions of residents, some in affluent neighborhoods and others not, we have local small business owners as well as large companies who are headquartered here and others who have satellite offices. Each of these groups has their own reasons for living or being located here and their own desires to see the city improve in different ways. Like all great cities, we have visitors who come to us for our tremendous variety of cultural events and beautiful scenery. We also have an aging infrastructure with subways and sewer lines to be updated, streets to be maintained and parks to beautify. Some of these infrastructure projects are clear winners because they are relatively low cost and the benefits will be easy to see. Others are much harder because they will involve shutting down areas of the “old city” for some time and may even cause permanent damage to some of the historic buildings. In addition, we growth potential, which if managed right can both improve the quality of life for our citizens and stimulate prosperity for the business which rely on our city.
Of course we have an annual budget which is funded by taxes collected from most of the groups that I mentioned. In good times, this budget is enough to go around while in lean times it is very difficult and we have to drastically cut city spending. Additionally, for many of our residents the tax is voluntary, and if they don’t feel the city is providing services that are valuable to them, they may choose to keep their money. There are many city council and planning commission meetings where there is a lot of debate over how to spend the budget and there are obviously conflicting interests involved.
Now this is all just the first layer because one thing that makes our city great is that we are at the center of a greater metropolitan area, surrounded by a number of other cities (other Creative Suite applications), both large and small. Some of these have similar issues and concerns as ours, while others are more modern planned communities without the burden of aging infrastructure. The citizens of many of these cities move freely from one to another throughout the day, and several years ago the leaders of these cities got together and agreed to try to share resources in areas where it was feasible and made sense. For example, we are all part of the same electric grid, but we need to maintain our own sewers. Sharing as many resources as we can has benefits, but it also means that we need to negotiate with each other in order to make upgrades and ensure that everyone’s needs are met. The second layer of government that we have formed to oversee these shared activities often petitions for its own initiatives for the benefits of citizens across the region, but these initiatives usually need to compete for the same budget as the local growth or infrastructure projects.
This metropolitan area is not an island of course, we are part of a larger state, with its own government and budget to balance. Our great Creative Suite metro area is a huge contributor to the state budget, but even so there are times when the state faces a deficit and needs to pull funds from the local coffers.
So, you can see that it is quite a balancing act to manage the budget, define the feature set, develop the product as part of a set of suites, and focus on continued quality improvements and try to make this all fit into a longer term vision. All this makes for a job that I love!