If you’re not sure what Product Management is, this will give you the basic information that every aspiring Product Manager needs to know and 7 easy ways to land your first job in Product Management!
What is Product Management?
There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding product management. A product manager’s main goal is to make sure the product they manage meets user expectations and goals, as well as corporate objectives. Product managers can come from a variety of backgrounds such as computer science, marketing, small business and consulting.
The product management process all starts with product strategy – creating product requirements and making sure they turn into a product that matches the overall business objectives. Product managers also work closely with product designers, engineers and developers to deliver their product vision in the most effective way possible.
At the end of the day, product managers are responsible for making sure the product they manage is successful – this requires product managers to be comfortable working with their development team, product designers and sales teams, customers and stakeholders.
Why do we need a product manager?
We already have product engineers and product designers…so why do we need product managers? Product managers work closely with product designers and engineers to ensure that the product they’re developing is what people want, while simultaneously meeting company-wide goals.
Product Managers also make sure that everyone across their organisation is on the same page when it comes to their product. They can communicate product requirements, product updates and what product success looks like in a way that simply cannot be achieved by product engineers or product designers alone.
The product management process
The product management process typically starts with strategic planning and ends with the product launch. When you think about it, going from product vision to product launch is pretty complex.
So what does this process typically look like?
Identify your goals (Data)
This is where product managers start gathering data from users and customers to ensure that their product meets user needs and expectations. Product managers must also validate their ideas by collaborating with other stakeholders across the organisation. From here, product managers can begin creating user stories and requirements for their products.
Prioritise your goals (Data)
While developing the product, it’s important to identify which features are most important to users, as well as how long each development stage will take. Product managers should also consider what impact certain functionalities will have on the target market.
Design your product (Design)
Once you’ve identified what should be included in your product, it’s time to start designing it. This includes wireframing design elements like colour schemes and layouts for a variety of devices and screen sizes, as well as user testing to ensure a simple and intuitive interface. The last step of the design process is typically creating a user manual.
Develop your product (Develop)
The engineering team will build out the functionality based on the requirements, wireframes and designs created by the product manager and their design team. Product managers need to work closely with engineers throughout this stage to ensure that all desired functionalities are built in a timely manner.
Launch your product (Deploy)
After a lot of hard work, your product is finally ready to be launched! While the engineering team will continue building out new features after launch, it’s important for all teams to celebrate when you hit this milestone.
Everyone from your marketing team to customer service representatives need to know about the launch date in advance. You’ll need to communicate your product updates, plan any press releases and create marketing collateral for when the big day comes.
Evaluate your product (Data)
Product managers should regularly assess project performance throughout each stage of their product lifecycle to ensure they’re on track. This includes monitoring key metrics like user growth, customer satisfaction and product support tickets.
Improve your product (Design)
The final step of the product management process is iteration – or continuing to improve your product based on evaluation results, user feedback and business goals.
What they do on a day-to-day basis
A product manager’s day-to-day tasks will often include product research, product design, product requirements and product launch. The product management process can seem daunting – especially when you’re just starting to break into the industry but here’s a list of what their day-to-day might look like:
- Collaboration with other teams such as sales, marketing and engineering
- Manage the roadmap, backlog, epics and user stories for a product
- User interviews, usability tests and feedback sessions
- Competitor analysis and feasibility assessments
- Engagement with senior stakeholders
- Problem interviews to solve friction or user frustrations
- Card sorting exercises and ideation
How to become a successful product manager
Product managers need to have a certain set of skills and product management traits in order to do their job well. Skills product managers typically need include strong leadership, communication, analytical and product design skills. Product managers also need to be able to work well in a team and independently.
One of the most important skills product managers need is product intuition. This means having strong product instincts, which can only be developed through product or relevant industry experience.
So how do you gain product management experience?
Start by looking for opportunities to work on projects that involve multiple functions (designing and executing them). This will allow you to understand how different functions affect product decisions and how they work together to achieve success.
If you have no product management experience, here are a few more tips on how to get started:
#1 Get involved with product communities
There are plenty of product communities online and offline – these can help give you a better understanding of what product managers do on a day-to-day basis.
#2 Build product prototypes
Product managers spend a lot of time thinking about product design and how to improve product experiences. Get started by building product prototypes, which you can then test using online tools.
#3 Build a product
If you’re still unsure about product management and would like to learn more, build a product! The best product managers are those who understand the product lifecycle and user experience inside and out.
You can even look to start your own side hustle to learn, experiment and grow just like I did at Minimalism Fitness.
#4 Work for a startup company
Product management is all about understanding product success, so product managers are typically found at startups that are looking to disrupt their industry or create something new. Since product management can be more competitive at more established companies, you’re better off looking for product management opportunities at small, new companies.
I got my official start as a product owner in a small (not quite small nowadays) startup, WithYouWithMe
#5 Product Courses & Training
Product managers typically have a strong understanding of product design and user experience, but can benefit from additional product management training. You can get this product management training by taking courses, reading books or even checking out product management workshops online.
#6 Volunteer to run product initiatives
Product managers are often given the task of leading product initiatives, but many product managers like to take on this challenge early on in their product management careers. Working on product initiatives outside your job allows you to gain product management experience without actually having a product manager title.
#7 Build relationships with product teams
Product managers typically work closely with product teams, so make sure to build product management relationships early on in your product management career. Watch for opportunities to learn more about product management and product design by developing new relationships with product managers and product designers at industry events or even casual meetups.
Becoming a successful product manager requires persistence, guidance and training. With these tips, you can get on your way to landing your first job and becoming a strong product manager that will add value to any product team.
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