Product manager plays an important role in product development in a wide range. Therefore, it is important for product managers to have the following 10 skills to bring success to the projects they develop.
The terms project management and product management sound the same at first glance and are often used interchangeably. It has also more or less blurred the distinction between these two roles. Even so, both turned out to be done with different and special disciplines.
Broadly, the product manager is responsible for driving product development. They prioritize initiatives and make strategic decisions about what your company wants to build. The product manager sits at the fulcrum between external (business goals, customer needs) and internal interests (the idealistic development team to build the product). In addition to external and internal areas, product managers are also responsible for technical, business and operational areas. This makes the project manager also considered as “Product CEO”.
According to PMI, there are three reasons why product management practices are important for an organization:
1. To develop the right products
2. To stop building the wrong products
3. The right product features at the right time
4. To ensure that people use the products
Having an important role, making product management activities has its own challenges. In product development projects, developers often have a different mindset and way of communicating with the client being handled. Their commercial preferences are often low because of their idealism to produce products as innovative as possible. Therefore, according to Project Management Trainer, Mike Clayton, the role of a product manager is needed to unite three different possibilities: Technology, business commercial interests, and customer preferences.
According to Mike, product managers have roles and responsibilities such as:
1. Bridging the Gap Between Stakeholders
There are many preferences that each stakeholder can have, and it is important to glue them into a single, mutually agreed set of preferences to form a product. One of the main tasks of a product manager’s role is about being a communicator. They must be able to emerge as future strategists who unite all stakeholders.
2. Setting Product Strategic Direction
In addition to ensuring that the products developed are highly innovative both in terms of functionality and visuals, product managers must also consider the commercial aspects of these products. They must be able to measure the commercial success of the product. Therefore, they must determine the strategic direction of the product from the stage of development, release, to the improvement cycle.
3. Become a Product Advocate Internally and Externally
Internally, product managers must apply for commercial support to meet the resource requirements needed during the development, release, and improvement cycles. So, product managers often carry the responsibility for profit and loss directly on their products like the product owner.
From an external point of view, the product manager must be responsible for forming a strategy to create a commercially profitable product. They have to follow market trends to understand the needs and priorities of their clients.
1. Business Ability
Not only for product owners or marketing teams, product managers also need to understand basic business competencies to do their jobs effectively. Responsible for making product development strategies make product managers must know the calculation of profit and loss, to cash flow. This is because they have to communicate the current state of the projected budget for product development to clients and other stakeholders.
2. Marketing Ability
In addition to business skills, product managers, especially those developing commercial products, must be able to develop ways to make their products as marketable as possible to consumers. The marketing skills needed by product managers can include the ability to respond to changing demands, develop marketing strategies for product releases, to create pricing frameworks.
3. Delegation Skills
Development teams often consist of members of a multi-functional team who are all responsible for a specific role in product development. In this condition, the product manager must be able to identify the strengths of each team member and delegate tasks based on the abilities of those team members. These delegation skills include being able to clearly describe the objectivity expectations of each assigned job to monitoring team performance to see what works and what doesn’t during the task completion process.
4. Technical Skills
Being able to code is not mandatory for all product managers, but the credibility of a product manager can be seen as higher if they are able to create technical code. Why?
Product manager, especially those who manage products in the information technology field, work closely with the development team to deliver digital solutions to solve their clients’ problems. The higher their technical knowledge, the more effective the conversations with the development team will be and the better strategic decisions will be made.
5. Market Research Ability
Having experience in conducting market research is also important to become a reliable product manager. When conceptualizing a new product, market research is essential to find out if there is a market or audience for the product. Market research also helps product managers to find out how the product can best serve that market.
These activities include assessing customer needs, gathering feedback, conducting customer interviews and surveys. To get started, the product manager can consult with the marketing manager and ask them what personas they have identified for the product they are currently developing.
6. User Experience Knowledge
While product teams often include User Experience (UX) User Interface (UI) experts, it is helpful for product managers to have some technical and practical knowledge of user experience. This knowledge will help the product manager to speak the same language as the UX and UI teams. It can also help product managers communicate requirements more effectively.
Priorities can always change in product management activities. Product managers must have the ability to prioritize things and must be able to keep up with changes in their business in competitive conditions. However, they must remain flexible to ensure products are developed and released in the most effective and efficient manner.
You have to remember that business and clients come first. Therefore, be sure not to let your personal interests influence your judgment. We certainly want the project to be completed on time, but there are times when you need to let priorities in other lines, such as product quality, take precedence if that is the best choice that benefits all parties.
At its core, products are created to solve a problem, both for the business and for the client. A good product manager is one who creates a product that solves a fundamental problem. Having problem-solving skills is an important part of creating innovative ideas in product development. The thing to remember, make sure to always empathize with your clients during brainstorming sessions. Their problem should be the main point behind your decision-making.
9. Time Management
Product managers often manage different product development projects at the same time. Not being able to prioritize what to do first can hinder your activities and affect product development outcomes. Therefore, having the ability to manage time is very helpful for product managers in completing all their work efficiently, effectively, and optimally. Your time management skills can always be honed as long as you learn to know what’s best for you and all those you work with.
10. Leadership and Initiative
Like most management positions, leadership skills are essential for managing and motivating a team. This leadership ability also needs to go hand in hand with the initiative ability so that the product development process is completed according to the time plan.
In addition, product managers often have to lead cross-functional teams that may include representatives from the development team, product team, engineering team, marketing team, sales team, and others. Therefore, good leadership and initiative skills are important for product managers to make all teams work dynamically towards the same goal.
That’s the explanation of what a project manager is, the duties and responsibilities, as well as the skills a project manager must have to increase his credibility. Hopefully, this review adds to your insight into the world of project management.