Product management is the business process of planning, developing, launching, and managing a product or service. It includes the entire lifecycle of a product, from ideation to development and even after launching. This role is at the very heart of an organization because product managers have to balance delivering value to a business with what customers want.
In this article, we will capture who a product manager is, how you can become a product manager and finally, 5 major things to know about product management.
Who is a product manager?
Many definitions of product management stem from what different people believe a product manager is or isn’t. In all this, the meaning given by Martin Eriksson stands out. He defines it as an intersection between technology, business, and user experience.
Going by this, a product manager is one who balances the trifecta of business, technology, and user experience. They define what the customer needs, ensure it aligns with the overall business goals, and oversee the conceptualization of technologies to achieve this.
One of the things to know about product management is that it is not a small feat. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not an easy way out of “coding or programming”. Product managers have a good working knowledge of technologies used to build digital products and must thoroughly understand users’ pain points.
Why are Product Managers Needed?
A fully optimized product manager could increase company profits by 34.2%. Therefore, these professionals are pivotal to the success of any digital product because they bring all aspects of development together while ensuring cost-effectiveness.
Customers are most interested in how your product helps them and product managers help any business identify this salient point. 40-90% of new products fail to get market traction because customer values or needs are not put into perspective.
How do you become a Product Manager?
To become a product manager, you need to take introductory courses that give you the fundamentals of product design and lifecycle. This is why our free product management certification course exists to give you what you need to be a successful product manager.
The basic goal in this period is to have a solid foundation. So, asides from taking courses immerse yourself in resources on the subject matter. Consider reading books, and articles, and watching tutorials on product management.
After gathering enough background knowledge, the next step is to put what you’ve learned to use. You can do this by applying for internship positions or even taking up volunteer positions as a product manager.
You can also collaborate with a team of enthusiastic developers, designers, and digital marketers to bring a product to life. This entire process will build your skillset, and confidence and help you prepare a portfolio for real-world product management roles.
After acquiring the relevant knowledge base, applying for roles is the next course of action. At this stage, you should have a solid idea about managing products from the pre to post-production stage. This includes a good knowledge of building case studies, competitive analysis, developing product launch plans, and product life cycle project modelling.
However, one of the key things to know about product management is that it is not a one-track journey. All of these processes that make you a good product manager can happen concurrently. This means that when you eventually become a product manager, you shouldn’t stop constantly and consistently upskilling to be at the top of your game.
5 Major Things You Should Know About Product Management.
A product manager‘s major responsibilities are vast. To make it easier to understand, I have summarised 5 key things you should know about product management.
1. Customers are the key to Research.
Good product managers ask questions. Taking the time to communicate with customers and stakeholders will make you understand both business owner and consumer needs.
Product managers spend most of their time doing user research to help make products that are better and unique. Asides from researching the users, product managers must also research the product itself, and its competitors. This helps them learn from competitors’ mistakes and strategize to make their products better.
Although the idea of production is creating products, if these products do not solve users’ problems, it could be an effort in futility.
Therefore, it only makes sense for research to be one of the first things to know about project management. You have to get this right.
2. Never overlook strategy development.
A product strategy is an action plan describing what the business hopes to accomplish with its product and how it plans to achieve that. As a result, product management needs you to create strategies based on market and user research.
To do this product managers have to develop a visual roadmap for the product and its development lifecycle. It also includes designing goals and objectives, so that the production process is always on the right track.
The product strategy should answer key questions such as who the product is made for, how it will solve their pain points and the company’s goals for the product throughout its life cycle.
For these reasons, strategy development has to be among the important things to know about product management. More so, because it provides clarity for your company, prioritizes the product roadmap, and improves strategic decision-making.
3. You have to Master being an Expert Communicator.
Communication is vital in every sphere of life, even in product management. A product manager acts as a liaison between the team of professionals needed in product creation as well as key company stakeholders.
Whether you’re handling vertical, horizontal, or external streams of communication, this skill is definitely part of the things to know about product management. Getting this right makes it easy to map out problems in development and solve them on time.
If you’re searching for how to improve your communication skills, this article is a good start.
4. Gathering and Analyzing Feedback helps Informed Decision-Making.
The product manager’s job does not end with launching the product. They must actively gather and analyze customer reception and feedback. The reason for this is not far-fetched; to make good decisions that improve customer satisfaction in future updates of the product.
Important questions give insights as to whether the product is easy to use. A good product is easy to learn, and use and motivates customers to keep coming back.
Product managers can gather feedback using quantitative, quantitative methods, or a mixture of both. The use of polls and analytics are examples of quantitative ways to get valuable insight. One-to-one interviews and user forums are instances of qualitative feedback methods. Finally, surveys give a good picture of where both methods are used.
5. Leading through influence.
Leading can a team of people to achieve a common goal can be tasking. A seamless way to achieve effective leadership is through leading with influence. Fortunately, this is a skill that can be learned with time.
Take time to make research and utilize data and statistics to back up your opinions or decisions. People will listen more if you have raw facts to back up your decisions rather than just a hunch.
In addition, don’t just be a dictator, but be an active listener. Create a space where everyone’s idea is seen and focused on the collective vision. Make human connections, not just be a robot that dishes out instructions.
Also, don’t be averse to criticism. Embrace that resistance might come and navigate such situations through conflict resolution and considerable compromise.
Summarily, influence builds over time. It comes with years of intentional experience. Influence would come naturally when you have made a good brand and work track record. As you progress in your career, you’ll have more people trust in your expertise.
For this reason, product managers have become key players for any organization that wants to deliver value to its consumers. Whether you’re just starting out or not, I hope this article has provided you with key things to know about product management.