Q&A: What technical skills do I need to be a product manager?
I’m asked questions about product management from time to time. Here’s one I’ve answered recently:
I saw you speak recently and I read about your work. I was looking for inspiration and guidance as I am searching for a career change and Product Management/ Project Management are my areas of interest.
I was looking to understand, based on your experience, if in such roles technical skills are required. My profile is more on the business side, I have experience in managing transformation protects, consultative engagements and client relationships in business process management.
I love solving business problems, lead discovery workshops to understand client needs and design/envision a digital solution. I would very much appreciate your feedback on my CV whether I would be a good fit for a Product manager or a Project manager role or if you see a big gap, I would be happy to work on that and up skill myself.
Thanks again for your message, all the best and hope to meet you when you speak next!
Read on for my reply!
Thanks for your message. It’s great that you’re interested in getting into product management.
The first thing to note is that product management and project management are very different disciplines, so it’s a good idea to decide which you’re interested in pursuing.
The short answer to your question is that product managers are generalists with some experience in lots of different areas, who then work with specialists in design, research, project management etc. You need to know enough about each discipline to have a decent conversation with each specialist on a product team.
It’s okay and perfectly normal not to have skills or experience in all these areas to begin with, everyone has to start somewhere. You would probably need to focus on building up areas such as user research and design, and on technology (what is typically used by teams and for what reasons).
So if you have gaps in your CV, you need to find ways to fill them by either working in different areas for a while, or by collaborating with someone who is a specialist in a discipline you’re not familiar with.
The longer answer is in my book :-)
Also, these blog articles may be helpful:
- The 16 most important technical skills every product manager needs (I Manage Products)
- Should I take a different role before applying to become a product manager? (I Manage Products)
- Getting into product management (I Manage Products)
- What, exactly, is a product manager? (Martin Eriksson, Mind The Product)
All the best,
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