The essence of any company or organization lies in the product it delivers to its customers, consumers, or clientele. The product can be anything from a service to anything that can be physically materialized. Without a product, the business shatters because it will not be able to address the problems of its customers who provide financial resources.
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What is Product Management
Product Management is the managerial process that holds a company’s business, its products, and the customers together.
This discipline typically involves:
- Generating new ideas.
- Figuring out how an idea can fit into the company’s business model.
- Understanding and addressing the consumer problems and requirements by making products that are both readily accepted by the consumers as well as feasible for the business.
- Optimizing existing products and ideas
- Managing existing products
Product Management is essentially a team effort that is led by a Product Manager.
Role of a Product Manager
The role of a product manager differs from one organization to another. However, it is constantly a Product Manager who oversees the product management and development team in a company.
The role of a product manager is explained very well in our blog ‘What is a Product Manager?’ with comprehensible illustrations. Some responsibilities of a product manager include:
- Stand up meetings
- Talking to customers
- Product backlog management
- Strategic planning
- Writing specifications
- Meetings with other teams
- Data analysis
Now you would have a better understanding of Product Management and the role of a Product Manager. So how would you go about making a career in Product Management?
Making a Career in Product Management
Getting your first job in product management can be a bit challenging. Due to the lack of availability of skilled product managers, and considering how important product managers are to the business, most companies prefer to hire experienced product managers even if it means hiking the pay.
Now here comes the problem. To be a product manager in a company, you would probably require considerable experience, but how would you have that experience if you have not had any job yet?
One thing that is assured to give you a head start in having a project manager career path is to get certification by completing a course from a reputed source. There are various platforms available for you to take online courses and receive guidance.
Firstly, it is imperative to develop the non-technical skills that a good Product Manager is expected to have. Some of them are:
1. Effective Communication
A Product Manager is expected to communicate effectively with all in any situation. Without effective communication, the indispensable quality of the product can be lost somewhere along the lines of ideation and implementation.
You will be required to communicate not only with the product management team but also with other divisions and teams of the company, with the customers and the stakeholders.
The importance of being empathetic cannot be understated for a Product Manager. Product managers are required to understand the problems and needs of the company’s customers and, at the same time, acknowledge the needs of the company’s business.
Being empathetic is not as easy as it may sound. You, as a Product Manager, should put yourself in the shoes of both the consumer and the stakeholder to address the problem in a way that suffices both sides of the coin.
3. Adaptability to Fluidity
The market is very dynamic. One day a product may be selling like hotcakes, but the next, it may no longer be the talk of the day. The company’s business lies heavily on the products it delivers to its customers, and this makes the business just as volatile as the value its product holds in the market.
You have to be quick to adapt to any changes that come up. The product may have to be tweaked to meet the current market demand, or there might be a requirement for new products. Speed is important to be ahead of your competitors.
As a Product Manager, you may get attached to a product you helped your company launch, but as times change, so do the products. A company cannot always hold on to a product for long without replacing it or making any changes to the same.
You should be able to prioritize which products to scrap and which ones to retain. Or, you might have many new ideas, but times may be such that the company can only go forward with a few of them. So, you are again faced with the challenge of prioritizing one idea over another.
Product Manager has to think of both the short term as well as the long term effects a product will have on the company’s business. You should be able to ask yourself questions like:
- What is the feasibility of materializing this idea in the given time?
- What value will this product hold for the business shortly?
- What value will this product hold for the business in the long run?
Once you have successfully developed such skills, securing your first job as a Product Manager gets a whole lot easier. We have a great blog article on ‘How to Become a Top 3% Product Manager’ that can help you figure out how to get a job as a product manager.
Few more tips to bag your first product management job are:
- Do side projects (small or big)
- Start thinking like a Product Manager
- Develop a technical skillset
- Get involved with the product community
- Start networking
Having competitive knowledge and experience in these skillsets will provide you with an edge over the others that are aspiring for the same position as you. You can now start sending your resume to companies, give interviews or work hand-in-hand with somebody from your extensive network.
What are the Career Paths for a Product Manager?
A career as a product manager has immense opportunities, and the career paths can be very diverse. Some of the career paths are:
- Chief Product Officer
- Product Consultant
- Product Director
- Product Owner
Product Management is a pivotal undertaking for any company and its business. Hence, companies are very selective in who they hire as Product Managers. That is all the more reason for you to constantly refine your skills and knowledge of this realm to stay ahead of the competition.
The possibilities for a Product Manager both in life as well as in career are numerous. The skills and experience you will gain as a Product Manager can be helpful even if you choose to jump to another profession or grow more along the same lines.