What is a product manager?
A product manager is the person who’s job is to ensure a product’s overall success and leads the teams related to the product.
This title has more recently become popular among the software product industry. Product managers are responsible for product development, but are not developers. They are responsible for product marketing, but they are not marketers. They are responsible for product design, but not designers.
Their job is to make sure that development, design, and marketing teams are working in harmony to constantly improve and optimize product and its position on the market.
Although they are not required to know how to code, design, or set up marketing campaigns, there are a few skills required from a product manager in every industry.
A product manager is able to communicate well with different teams, stakeholders, and users. They are the ones that bridge the gap between these 3 groups of people.
A product manager is curious about the audience and their motives. They need to learn what exactly users need and make sure that it complies with the product in the making.
A product manager is a great leader without any authority. They usually can’t boss around the different teams but should be able to assume leadership and have other people follow them to success.
A product manager should be data-oriented. Although interviewing users is a great way to get insights, the real data that is collected can provide actionable results. So a product manager needs to read and visualize data well.
And a product manager needs to be able to reach goals according to the road plan, forcing them to be disciplined and determined.
What does a product manager do?
A product manager in short; understand what users and market needs, establishes a company vision and creates the roadmap, then ensures everything goes according to plan by ensuring cooperation and communication between different teams and management.
In long a product manager has to:
- Understand the market, users, and the product: a product manager should understand the market and the opportunities it includes, the needs and motives of users, and the value the product will offer to the market and users.
- Establish a vision to be aligned under: a product manager should make sure that every individual in the company is working towards the company’s interests and the long-term goals. Best way to do this is by creating a company-wide vision of what the aim is that applies to everybody.
- Create long-term and short-term plans: a product manager is responsible for product’s success as we’ve mentioned, so they should establish goals and plan their weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual strategies that get them closer to these goals.
- Establish communication between management and teams: a product manager should make sure that there is no communication gap between the management who make decisions regarding future and the teams who create and maintain product and services. A gap will harm the company vision creating obstacles on the business’ path to success.
- Ensure cooperation between teams: a product manager should be aware of what each team is currently working on and let other teams know about these to ensure frictions and mistakes. Two teams that are unaware of each other’s progress might generate problems that need extra time to fix, harming the progress of company’s short and long-term strategies.
A product manager might have different responsibilities based on the industry they are in, the product they are managing, and the teams they are responsible for.
How to become a product manager?
Although a degree in a related field is usually sufficient for becoming a product manager, an education related to product management such as master’s degrees, certificates by universities or other education platforms, product management courses are usually necessary for getting hired as a product manager.
- Product management degrees: consisting of various one-year degree programs from different universities, a product management degree from a proven education organization is the best option for those who want to improve employers.
- Product management certificates: many education platforms such as Product School offer high-end education on product management with certificates. It is common to get a job with these certificates from trusted platforms.
- Product management courses: courses without certification aren’t usually effective in job interviews, but can always be great for self-education on the subject.
- Product management books: various successful product managers have authored books on being a product manager and building high-end products. Reading these books also won’t help with job interviews but again, great resources for self-education.
Without any certification or degree, it might be difficult to land a dream job. However, companies won’t hesitate to hire product managers of successful products regardless of degree and certification.