Learn to be a product manager – A beginner’s guide

Product management is one of the most lucrative professions and is growing rapidly as is the demand for product managers. In fact, product management is expected to reach USD 31.84 billion by 2025.

In this article, we will try to explain what product management is. Is it just the process of delivering a product? What else does it include? And how do you make a career out of it?

 What is product management?

Product management is a strategic practice that streamlines the product life-cycle journey from development to positioning it in the market with a clear focus on the product and its customers. It is sometimes also defined as the intersection of UX, technology, and business.

Who is a product manager?

A product manager helps create a product by understanding customer pain points and delivering the right set of solutions that align with customer needs keeping in mind the larger objective of the business. The key for product managers is to ensure the product is solving a clear problem for customers and there is a visible gap in the market for it.

However, the role is not fixed on managing the development of the product within a team and PMs also play a critical role in fostering cross-functional collaboration within the organization although their roles and responsibilities can differ greatly from company to company.

If you’re looking at a career as a PM you need a sound base with skill sets ranging from strategic thinking, excellent communication, and solid leadership skills to motivate teams while keeping calm under pressure.

Here is a step-by-step guide to starting your journey as a PM

  1. Getting the basics right

Having a sound foundation in product management fundamentals is a stepping stone in learning to be a product manager. Formal accreditation is one of the routes to getting into this industry. You need to have strong technical skills which can be inculcated by enrolling in a product management certification program, undertaking a product management workshop, or related product management training. In fact, there are many free product management certification courses online. However, a product management qualification is not always the only way. Your experience in this domain is also crucial. This demands constant learning and staying up to date with current trends in the market, so a never-ending attitude toward learning is a must. One way to do so is through doing your own research, reading, studying, and creating your own product management blogs.

  1. Importance of communication

Since the work of PMs often involves being in touch with cross-functional teams, communication is crucial. The product of any organization is often the result of how well the business understands customer pain points and enhances the development process between several teams, ranging from business partners, engineering and development teams, stakeholders, sales and marketing, etc. Communicating with senior leaders within your organization will help you understand the various aspects of product management.

  1. Develop and refine your product management skills

Once you have a basic foundation of product management, it’s time to put it into practice. One of the ways is to study an existing product in the market and coming up with solutions or better ideas of how it can work. This will help you evaluate your current skills and abilities. It will also help you identify the skill gaps that you still need to master. You can also gain early experience by talking to professionals working in the industry who will give you a real-world scenario of how the industry works in practice rather than simply in theory.

  1. Acquiring and developing the right technical and business skills

Technical and business skills vary with the type of industry you want to enter. A basic understanding of business management, planning, delivery models, finance, go-to-market strategy, engineering, sales, and marketing, may also be required at a basic level. Some roles may require you to have SQL skills or testing or knowledge of the Agile methodology. So research the company you’re seeking and try to understand what specific skills they are looking for.

  1. Adding to your experience

If you truly want to know and experience how the industry works it’s best to just take the leap! Until you work and get your hands dirty you will never know what happens throughout the product development process. Taking on entry-level posts or internships and associate product management roles is a great way to begin your product management journey. All of these positions can offer a solid combination of practical and experiential understanding of the various product management activities. The earlier you start the better it will be.

State of product management in India

The number of start-ups in India has surged thanks to government efforts, and as a result, demand for PM jobs has risen exponentially. With 20,000+ jobs available on LinkedIn alone, the product management domain is in high demand in India and abroad. Therefore, as competition is high, anyone who wants to work as a product manager needs to have a sound knowledge of research methodologies, data analytics, user behavior, and industry-specific technologies. There are many product management and product development courses in India, which can help one learn to be a better product manager.

The future of product management is quite promising across the globe as well as in India.

Though a career in product management is truly exciting and rewarding it demands hard and smart work, an unending desire to learn – especially from mistakes – and a dedication to solving customer problems.

If you can have a clear vision, form plans of action, work hard, can manage multiple teams, overcome daily challenges and keep calm under pressure, you will surely enjoy working in this role. In many cases, the rewards are definitely worth it!