Product management refers to the organizational role that deals with overseeing the entire process and lifecycle of a product. From conception to development to getting the product on the shelves, the product management process ensures that everything runs the way it's supposed to.
This entire process takes place in multiple stages and spreads across various roles and departments within a company. In the end, however, the goal of product management is to ensure that the product that the customer gets is the best possible version of itself. Accomplishing this goal will also help the company reach its objective of maximizing profitability.
If you’re interested in learning more about a product management career, you’re in the right place. We’ll guide you through everything you need and want to know about this career, including the responsibilities of a product manager, and what you need to get started in this career path.
Launch Your Product Management Career
Learn how to manage product lifecycles from industry professionals, 100% online, with the security of a career guarantee when you graduate.
A Definition of Product Management
The main objective of product management is to develop new products that are more competitive than what is already available on the market. This can be achieved by providing better value to customers, or by solving problems more efficiently than current alternative products. Often, a unique selling point will also help a product stand out from the crowd.
The customer’s reaction to the product, along with sales figures, will ultimately determine its success. Every product has an objective, and every organization has a product manager to ensure these objectives are met.
Bear in mind that product management is not just about what features to include. Knowing what to leave out is just as important. As a result, the job also involves many elimination decisions throughout the process.
Product management is a multidisciplinary field that involves a lot of collaboration and communication. The journey from the creation of a product to its distribution into the market is a complex process. It requires the coordination of multiple departments, teams, data, and business systems.
In order for this process to run as efficiently as possible, it needs to be closely monitored. Everything needs organizing and planning ahead of time.
The primary focus of Product Management is the end user. In order to create a competitive product on the market, the needs of the customer must be considered. Solutions must be tailored to them every step of the way.
The 4 Stages of Product Management
There are 4 stages in the product management process, each one with its own set of objectives:
- Vision Development: The strategy development begins at this stage by discussing an idea that might develop into a new product. A product vision answers questions like: What are the problems that can be solved by the product? How can the success of the product be measured?
- Strategy Development: Product managers create a realistic strategy for achieving a vision. A product strategy defines the key product features, the users of the product and their needs, along with the key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be met by the product.
- Product Development: It begins by defining the product’s technical specifications, developing prototypes, and creating a mock design of the final product. The technical specifications are written by the Product Manager, whose aim is to identify the needs of the users and communicate them to the development team.
- Sales and Marketing: Once the final product is ready to enter the market, the plans concerning marketing, launch, and advertising are finalized. The success of a product can be determined by parameters like sales, customer satisfaction, and feedback. The Product Manager keeps track of these metrics and analyzes them. The findings are reported to the Product Marketing Manager to further improve sales.
Careers in Product Management
If you’re considering a career in product management, you’re in luck. Product management is a growing field that pays well, depending on your specific role. Some of the most common titles in Product Management include:
- Associate Product Manager
- Senior Product Manager
- VP of Product
What Does a Product Manager Do?
The responsibilities of a product manager will vary by company. Usually, there are four factors that will impact the responsibilities that a product manager has:
- The size of the company
- The industry the company is in
- The type of products the company is selling
- The product's target market
All these elements work together to help a product manager determine their responsibilities. If a business is larger in size, they will usually have the resources to set up a product management team. If the business is smaller, the role may be limited to one person who ensures the process runs smoothly.
For the most part, however, a product manager will focus on the following tasks:
- Conducting research on subjects like the target market, the competition, and user preferences
- Using this research to develop strategic plans for the product, like a product roadmap along with a rough timeline
- Communicating plans to key stakeholders in the organization
- Coordinating with different teams once the strategic plan is approved
- Data analysis and taking action on user feedback once the product has been launched
How Much Do Product Managers Make?
Product management is a growing field that is highly sought-after. Fortunately, it’s also a job that can pay very well. The salary of a product manager can depend on a variety of factors:
Generally, the pay range for a product manager in the US is anywhere between $67,315 and $124,420.
What Skills Does a Product Manager Need?
Being a product manager is a difficult job that requires an extensive set of hard and soft skills. The good news is that both types of product management skills can be developed, either through schooling or personal development.
Hard skills: Hard skills are those measurable skills that are job specific. Some hard skills that product managers need to have include:
- Data analysis
- Market research
- User testing
- Road map planning
Soft skills: Soft skills refer to your personality traits that determine how well you work by yourself and with others. Some soft skills that product managers need to have include:
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Teamwork and collaboration
How Do I Become a Product Manager?
If you’re interested in becoming a product manager, a good place to start is introspection. Consider the following questions as you research more about this career path:
- What do I like most about this career path?
- Can I see myself following this career path?
- What hard skills do I need to improve?
- What soft skills do I need to improve?
- What requirements do I need to meet for this career path?
Qualifications are an important aspect to consider when going down any career path. You might need some further education to meet the requirements a typical product manager position has. Fortunately, there are a variety of options available for the aspiring product manager.
Education in Product Management
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in product management, you should consider earning the educational qualifications necessary for this role. Here are some of the options available to you.
Product Management Degrees
One of the first options available to aspiring product managers is enrolling in a university's business administration program. While there are no bachelor's degrees offered in product management; many business-related degrees offer coursework on the topic. If you already have bachelor’s degree, you can look into MBAs in product management.
Product Management Certificates
If you’re looking for a quicker and less expensive way to learn product management, a certification program may be for you. Keep in mind, however, that certificate programs may not go as in-depth as other types of programs. This might be a better option to consider if you’re main interested is getting certified as quickly as possible.
Product Management Courses
Online courses and bootcamps are also a great option for aspiring product managers. Offering a balance between a degree and a certificate, online courses or bootcamps tend to be more flexible and affordable. This might be perfect for those looking to get certified in a shorter period of time while learning as much as possible.
If a bootcamp sounds like the right option for you, consider Thinkful’s Product Management Bootcamp. You’ll learn everything you need to know about being a product manager with the one-on-one guidance of a professional mentor.
Product Management Resources
Whether you’re deep into the product management or just starting out, there are plenty of resources available to learn more about this career path. Here are some valuable resources books, tools, and important terms to help guide your product management career journey.
Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love
Perfect for: This is one of the most popular books on the subject and should be read by any aspiring product manager. Written by one of the biggest thought leaders on product management, this book gives you an in-depth guide on what it takes to build successful products.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Perfect for: This national bestseller is perfect for anyone who is interested in any and every part of a product lifecycle. It offers valuable insight on the factor that makes product so irresistible to customers. It also offers case studies on successful products that have applied the knowledge offered in the book.
Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
Perfect for: This book is the best option for aspiring product managers who love to find ways to work more efficiently. It’ll walk you through the 5-day sprint process the author’s developed, helping you approach challenges with a product manager's mindset.
There are tons of product management tools available right now. As you go through your options, make sure to pick a tool that meets your team’s needs.
Product Management Tools
These are some of the most popular product management tools available:
Communication is a huge part of your job as a product manager. As such, you need to have the right tools in place to ensure effective communication with your team. These are some of the widely used communication tools:
- Gmail or Outlook
All jobs require you to be productive, and product management is no exception. As you go through the product lifecycle process, use productivity tools that will help you make the most of your time and energy. Here are some great productivity tools to get started:
As an aspiring product manager, you might have a difficult time understanding the jargon that surrounds the role. This is normal. Here are some of the important terms you need to understand to learn more about product management:
- UX: Refers to the overall experience that a person has with a product
- UI: Refers to the layout that a user interacts with (buttons, images, text entry fields, etc.)
- CX: Refers to the experience the customer has with the company
There are many more terms to learn, but this starting point will help you understand the product management process a little better.
Product Manager vs. Project Manager
The roles of product manager and project manager are complementary but have their own distinct set of responsibilities:
Product Management: A process that solves customers’ problems and meets the demands of the market. It has a whole lifecycle that involves the conception of an idea, its development, creation, and launch into the market. Product development is an ongoing process that continues even after a product has been launched.
Project Management: A process of completing the goals and achieving the outcomes of a specific project. It’s a temporary undertaking that’s started to create a new project/product/service within set deadlines.
A product can only be developed within a project’s context. The skills of both product managers and project managers are required to successfully deliver a product to market.
Pursuing a Career in Product Management
Becoming a product manager is not easy, but the effort is well-worth it for those who know this career path is right for them.
To become a product manager, you’ll need a range of skills. One approach to consider is to take an online bootcamp that offers you the support and guidance you need from the comfort of your own home. We’ll teach you everything you need to know to land a new job in product management. Take advantage of expert one-on-one mentoring while following our professionally designed curriculum.
Let’s launch your new career.
Why is product management a good career?
While it’s true that this career path pays well, product management is so much more. The product management career is one of great value where multiple teams and roles come together to bring a new and valuable product out into the world.
A product manager oversees this process and has the important role of making sure everything runs the way it’s supposed to. Following this career path means playing a significant role in the success and growth of a company.
What’s the difference between a product manager and a product owner?
A product manager focuses on every aspect of the product lifecycle. They work with the bigger picture, finding out what the customer wants, helping to build the product, and ensuring a successful delivery of the product.
A product owner focuses on the details that involve the process. They ensure every aspect of the development cycle is as efficient as it can be. They also create and manage the product backlog.
Does Thinkful offer courses in product management?
Yes! We offer a Product Management Bootcamp that covers this and all other aspects of the product management career path. We also offer part-time and full-time options that fit your specific lifestyle needs. Schedule a call with an admissions representative to learn more about becoming a product manager..
Which Tech Career is Right for You?
Ready to change your career and join the world’s next workforce? At Thinkful, we’ve got your back with various tech programs to get you equipped with in-demand skills.