IT Roles: What Is a Product Manager?
The role of the Product Manager is to develop an understanding of the market, customers and how much demand there is for a product, service or software. During a project their main role is as the go-to person, and they need to be able to maintain a balance between the input, feedback and concerns of multiple departments, users, management, clients and stakeholders.
As well as technology and business, the product manager needs to have an in-depth knowledge of what products are worth moving forward in business terms and which ones would be better leaving by the wayside. In addition to this they have to have good people skills, being able to understand and juggle everyone’s needs throughout a project and translate that to encourage good communication across departments.
These will vary depending on the actual business and products involved but some of the core skills are:
- Assessing customer/client need for a specific product
- Keeping abreast of developments in the market
- Pricing policies, scales and methods
- Business planning for new products
- Implementation strategies
- Training and support for staff and clients
- Adapting technologies to meet new needs
- Being aware of industry trends/risks/challenges
- Agile software development
Business and IT skills should be top notch, however, there are also a variety of other skills that are essential for a good product manager. These include:
- Emotional intelligence — a good EQ means an ability to empathize with and understand the needs of customers and clients and maintain positive relationships.
- Relationship skills — good communication between people and departments, conflict resolution and team working are key skills.
- An awareness of self — a product manager must be able to stay objective when dealing with both product development and the product development teams.
- Self-management — time management, planning and prioritization are necessary attributes, as is the ability to remain calm under pressure.
- Socially aware — being able to address the concerns and feelings of customers and staff in an empathetic manner.
Training and Salary
There is no single path to becoming a Product Manager but a business degree or similar is often an entry requirement. You can always use online courses if you are already in an industry and wish to move into product management and there are several available. Look in places like Udemy and LinkedIn to find accessible and reasonably priced courses. It is worth looking at the specific skills needed in your industry and pursuing courses that lead to accreditation in those areas. An in-depth knowledge of your industry, depth of experience and some sought after key skills can lead to a product management role even without a Bachelor’s degree.
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