Behind every software update, smartphone release, or self-driving car launch, is a talented product manager. Without these constantly evolving products, companies would fall behind the competition. Product managers, therefore, play a key role in any organization and top managers can make the difference between a successful or failing business.
It’s no surprise that the best product managers receive handsome salaries, excellent job prospects, and job security. The role also provides incredible job satisfaction with the idea that your product can improve the lives of thousands of customers across the globe.
If you’re interested in a product management career, you’ll need to learn a wide range of skills, tools, and managerial techniques to be successful. In this article, we’ll discuss which skills you’ll need to master and how you can get started. We’ll also look at popular online education programs you can join to fast-track your career development and land that dream job.
What Does a Product Manager Do?
A product manager is responsible for the development of products for a company. They gather information about customer needs, identify problems before they happen, create solutions, and communicate their vision across different departments. They then design, manufacture, test, and launch a product to realize that goal. The whole process follows a structured plan and time frame.
The core strategies and responsibilities of a product manager can vary between different organizations. But product manager duties generally connect three key areas: the tech team, the client, and the business itself.
Being a product manager can be both challenging and rewarding. It requires you to master a broad range of hard and soft skills to clear any obstacles that might arise in the journey of creating a new product from scratch.
The Product Manager Mindset
To be a good product manager you need to be a good leader. Leadership should come naturally to you. If you find yourself in situations where people naturally gravitate towards you, there’s a good chance you have the personality required for the role. You’ll also need to keep a level head and think on your feet in high-pressure situations.
Product management is one of the most demanding and complex careers you can choose. A product manager is responsible for leading and planning the entire lifecycle of a product. This includes the initiation, planning, execution, control, and completion of all phases in the developmental cycle.
Product managers are expected to excel when working with teams and meeting with clients. Product managers are skilled at both formal and informal business interactions. Like a psychologist, they have to cultivate the required intuition to read both their employers and clients unspoken desires, challenges, and expectations.
As a product manager, you’ll need to use all the weapons in your managerial arsenal to solve problems. Your colleagues will look up to you for answers to any of their problems. You must have a leadership mindset and thrive on finding answers.
If this sounds like the kind of challenge you’d enjoy, you’re well suited to a future in product management.
Product Manager Responsibilities
Some of the most common responsibilities and functions that a product manager handles are as follows:
- Spearhead multiple teams through the entire lifecycle of the product.
- Help manage the expectations about the product both internally as well as externally.
- Track the progress made across core teams and ensure all parties are in sync.
- Lead, advise and motivate the team at all times.
- Forge strong business relationships.
- Prioritize tasks and be a master of time management.
- Ensure the clients’ expectations are met.
- Function as the main point of contact for the clients.
- Elaborate on the scope and range of the product.
- Document progress made across all working components, for the final product.
- Report progress to seniors and escalate issues to them whenever necessary.
- Accurately forecast the projected revenues and resources required.
- Ensure all communication channels work perfectly.
- Ensure everyone knows exactly what their role is.
- Ensure all milestones in the product lifecycle are met on time.
- Continually organize team meetings to help identify any new challenges or constraints.
- Organize workshops and training for employees that need to be upskilled.
- Keep tabs on the budget, billings, and accounting for the product.
This list should help you visualize what’s expected when working as a product manager. Actual responsibilities may vary depending on the size of the company and the specific industry.
Product Manager Skills
The following are some of the essential skills required to become a successful product manager.
- Multitasking will help you manage multiple tasks simultaneously, focusing on one priority task while keeping track of others.
- Excellent time management skills to juggle tasks and meet client deadlines.
- In-depth knowledge of your field of specialization to help solve specific problems.
- A good grasp of risk management processes and business cases.
- Great business acumen besides a natural flair for leadership.
- Budgeting skills to keep an eye on spending and act accordingly.
- Critical thinking to help you understand problems.
- The ability to think in a clear-headed fashion even in high-pressure situations.
- Great self-managerial and product management skills.
- Top negotiating and communication skills.
- Excellent people skills to navigate the team members and clients you come across.
- Self-motivated and impeccable work ethic.
- A knack for sales, whether you're selling ideas to your team or the client.
- A creative mindset to add more value to products and also to work around problems that may arise.
- A complete understanding of the product lifecycle.
How to Learn Product Manager Skills
Now you have a good grasp of what’s required to become a product manager, you’re maybe wondering where to start. Here are some tips to help you begin your journey:
- Research the Role: You should thoroughly research the product management role to make sure it’s right for you. Check out online resources like product management blogs. Read product management books to learn personal stories and get a taste of what management life is like. Reach out to professionals with your questions and ask for advice.
- Get a Degree: A bachelor’s degree in a business or related field is one option to get started as a product manager. You can study marketing, economics, advertising, or any management subject. Degrees usually last around 4 years and cost up to $35,000 per year in tuition fees. They’ll provide you with an in-depth understanding of your chosen field and lay a solid foundation for a career in product management.
- Enroll in a Bootcamp: These laser-focused online courses teach you career-ready skills to become a well-paid product manager. Unlike degree courses, they’re affordable, fast, and only teach you what you need to know. Enroll in our product management bootcamp today and take advantage of one-on-one mentoring, an expertly designed curriculum, and a career guarantee once you graduate. You’ll also get the chance to work in teams and solve real product-related problems with other aspiring managers.
- Become an Intern: Product management internships are a great way to learn more about the role. You’ll get the chance to work alongside leading experts in the field. This will provide invaluable real-life experience. You’ll also build your professional network. These contacts can help you find a full-time position and recommend you to prospective employers. Internships look great on your resume and should boost your chances of success.
- Get a Mentor: Ideally, an entry-level product manager needs to be given the space to learn from co-workers and progress to take on more challenging assignments. There’s no bigger advantage than finding yourself a mentor. Senior product managers with years of experience under their belt are extremely valuable advisors.
- Take Your Time: A great tip would be not to rush into the industry and accept the first job that comes your way. Take your time, think it out, and proceed wisely. Compile a list of all the qualities you would want from a prospective company. Also, list out what you want and don’t want in your new career.
Good Luck in Your Product Management Career
Product management is a challenging but extremely rewarding career choice. If you’re a natural leader with great people skills, a future in products could be perfect for you.
After reading this article, you should now have a good understanding of the required skills needed to cut it as a product manager. If you’d like to continue your research head over to our product management blog, where you’ll find plenty more product-related articles. You can learn how to write a stand-out product manager cover letter to nail your first job application or browse our selection of entry-level product manager jobs (and how much they pay).