The Best Product Managers Possess These 4 Skills
Product managers are the jack of all trades within their organization.
Known for behind-the-scenes planning and strategy work, product managers are involved in every step of the product cycle. They are experts in the marketplace, the company, the customers and, of course, the product.
Given their extensive reach, successful product managers must possess vast yet specific skill sets.
The most important product manager skills can be categorized into the following list.
1. Strategic Planning Skills
One of the most essential product manager skills is strategic planning. Product managers must be strategic about the product timeline, from conception to go-live.
While they need to stick to the timeline, product managers should also be nimble enough to determine when the timeline needs to be adjusted. Internal factors, such as issues with the technology, as well as external factors, such as marketing strategy or support, may necessitate amending the product development timeline.
An important component of strategic planning is clear communication. Product managers must be able to communicate effectively with members of otherwise disparate groups, including developers, designers, marketing and more. They are the liaison between these groups, and ultimately facilitate the collaborative creation of a successful product that everyone can be proud of.
Finally, strategic product managers must maintain a broad overview of the product’s entire lifespan while also keeping an eye on the granular, day-to-day happenings during product development.
2. Ability to Predict What’s Next
Because they are always thinking about the future of the product, product managers must have the foresight to predict upcoming trends in the industry. This is key for keeping a leg up on the competition.
One of the most important product management skills is the ability to understand how trends will influence the direction of new products and updates. For example, when mobile accessibility became a driving force in the industry, products transformed to become mobile-friendly. However, product managers need to be discerning. Not all trends stick, so they should think carefully before designing new updates around them.
3. Evidence-Based Decision Making
Staying abreast of industry trends is among the most essential product management skills.
A prerequisite of this is doing extensive research and keeping up with current events. Empirical insights position product managers to make evidence-based decisions that are more likely to be successful.
The first step is internal research. Since product managers need to be experts in their own product, understanding the evolution of the product within the company is necessary for developing plans for the future.
External data and research about what competitors are doing can spur ideas about your own product. Assessing other companies’ products, and seeing what works and what doesn’t is a simple way to identify areas for improvement.
Since products are designed for certain demographics, gaining consumer insights are also extremely valuable. Product managers should seek consumer feedback and be open to incorporating those ideas into future product updates.
4. Product Expertise
Hardcore tech skills are not necessary to succeed as a product manager. However, expertise in the product is.
A product manager should know everything about the product, including its benefits and pain points. They should be constantly looking for ways to make the product better, and recognize which ideas have the potential to become new product features.
A day in the life of a product manager can be hectic. It includes working with a variety of people across different teams and departments, creative thinking and continuous learning. But with these product management skills, product managers are well situated to succeed.