Product Manager is the new kid on the block, why because the role requires you to be a jack of all trades. So for a software engineer who has spent a good number of years in coding/decoding and is looking at a career shift, the obvious choice seems to be to become Product Managers (PMs). According to Belong.com research, 29% of PMs have a software engineering degree and only 6% of them had the coveted ‘Software Engineer + MBA’ combination
Harvard Business Review states that Core Competence, Emotional Intelligence, and Company Fit are skill sets required to become a good PMs. Core Competencies are the baseline for any PMs, like conducting good customer interview, pricing revenue model, understanding market, designing projects are some of the skill sets which one should hone to be successful PMs. Relationship management where emotional intelligence plays an essential role for successful negotiation, resolving conflicts, and working with others toward a shared goal, are especially challenging for PM and a sound emotional intelligence can bring balance among the stakeholders. However, Core Competence and good Emotional Intelligence are not enough to determine the ability to be a good PM. What is important is to understand the nature of the organization and if one lacks basic tech skills, it’s better to enroll for some online courses to fit the role.
Now that we have understood the Product Managers don’t fit any traditional role, however, below mentioned are the seven skills one should keep working on
- Idea Management
The first phase of any new product development is ideation. Hence it’s important for the PMs, to manage all the ideas and prioritize them to lay a roadmap that is beneficial to your client and company. Referring to product strategy and team capacity is crucial while deciding which ideas to build. Ideas should also align with realistic expectations of what your organization and your team can deliver.
- Product Specification
Once the idea has been approved, now comes to building the project. In order to do that, it’s essential for PMs to define ‘who’, what’, ‘why’, ‘when’ to help engineers to develop the right product. In other words, the Product Requirement Document should be written in such a way that the engineers can use throughout the development process to sense and check what they’re building. This, in turn, helps in setting parameters that can be later measured and set target values.
- Road mapping
A quintessential document for any PMs. Reason being a product roadmap outlines the goals, milestones, and deliverables for a product in development. The roadmap must be tailor made as per your audience, as different audiences will have very different needs. For example, internal members of the product team will want specific tasks as compared to an external stakeholder who requires a higher-level view of strategic initiatives. Good roadmaps boost communication within an organization, which consecutively leads to a better relationship among teams.
Prioritization is the ongoing process of deciding what should be built sequentially to bring maximum value to the user. As the project rolls on, a clearer picture of which ideas will bring the most value and how much effort will it take to implement should be calculated one by one to anticipate the next course of action.
This is the time when PMs are handing over product specifications to the development team. Project Managers are working closely with engineers, marketing, support, and other teams to make sure projects are delivered to a high quality and to specification to the client. While preparing product specs for your development or engineering team, anticipating questions in advance will free up your time to move onto the next idea, and thus, reducing the margin for error and misunderstanding over how a change should be built if required.
- Analytics & Experiments
Analytics and metrics are used to understand and discover whether changes are bringing any value to the users. Experimentation should be a continuous process for testing the products to ensure they are better with each use. This scientific process to product management helps in understanding how people use your products and can help in improving them.
One of the great ways to build a successful product is to listen to your customer. A good PMs connect with their customers at various stages of the customer lifecycle. Learning from revaluation based on the feedback from customers is essential in building successful products. Using quantitative and qualitative data along with user feedback helps PMs to bring well-rounded product roadmaps.