With the responsibility of ensuring that a company develop and produce quality, in-demand products, a product development manager must have a comprehensive set of skills to be successful.
Product managers have to deal with massive amounts of detail and it requires an immense amount of skill. This fast-growing position is a tad intimidating, so we made the effort for you and made this list of the five most important, absolute must-have skills for a successful product development manager.
There’s always more to bring to the table, but with these five product development skills you will have built a firm foundation on which to construct your successful career as a product manager.
The Top Product Development Skills Employers Are Looking For
1. Business Basics
Success starts here! Some may wonder why this isn’t obvious. Sometimes you’re so focused on the details of the painting you lose sight of the picture. Those intricate details are incredibly important, but without the bigger picture there’s no structure.
A basic understanding of business is so incredibly essential that, without it, everything falls apart like the sandcastles we built as kids. As traumatizing as it was for us as children to see our “products” destroyed by a stray beach ball, imagine the impact a stray competitor could have on our business.
A product manager’s primary responsibilities are to maximize a company’s value by way of marketable and profitable products. Failure of a product is a failure for the product manager and a successful product manager will always make sure the product will fulfill it’s purpose. Never lose sight of the end goal, and always make sure to start with something concrete. Be careful to build your foundation out of something stronger than sand.
2. Technical Knowledge
Imagine this scenario: In some alternate reality, you are one of the giant companies of the world and you’re showing off your new product. You get on a giant stage with lots of music and lights in the background to intensify the excitement. Suddenly everything quiets down, the audience anxiously awaits the details on this new product and in that silence you have absolutely nothing to say.
If you’re a successful product manager that will never happen to you. How can you possibly manage a product without know everything that goes into it? How can you expect to optimize the marketing and profitability of a product if you don’t know how it was made, how much it cost, and what its capabilities are? The answer is you most certainly cannot.
You will be unable to define or oversee the creation of a product if you have absolutely no idea how it is made.
Additionally, as customers request features, etc. how would you know how to implement the changes or even if it were possible? Also, having technical knowledge allows you to have a firm understanding of the time and effort that it will take for the product to launch to market.
This will permit you to make critical decisions as it pertains to labor, budget constraints, and more. Being the head of the product development and launch, means that you need to be able to explain to anyone at any time: what your product is, as well as how it is created and repaired.
3. Collecting and Analyzing Data
According to Wired, data is the new oil of the digital economy. In today’s day and age, data is the most valuable commodity.
Information determines what is needed, what is wanted, and where to go. Most importantly though, this is how you receive and utilize feedback to know your customer base.
What do your customers want? What don’t they like? These are simple, yet imperative questions among a million others that all require answers. This product development skill will make sure you’re not wasting resources on making bananas when your customers want oranges.
The people have the power and they decide the success of your company. Fail to follow them and their desires and you’ll end up where your customers aren’t. That’s a desolate wasteland with only failed companies and products to keep you company.
Collect. Analyze. Produce. Succeed.
4. Ability to Prioritize
We all have that friend that tries to do everything at once. Some of these people are lucky enough to find jobs that suit this trait but product management is not one of them.
Focusing on everything means nothing is done optimally. There is simply too much going on. With all the feedback you’ll receive on any given product you will need to know what should be focused on what should either temporarily or permanently be ignored, what should be put to use immediately, later, or on the next product.
If you build upon the extra details like creating a moat for a sandcastle that doesn’t yet exist, when will you get to building the castle? The castle is the priority and that’s where your focus should be. Once you have your castle you can move on to the moat.
When you know what your priorities are, you know where you focus needs to be. Take everything one step at a time.
5. Strategic Thinking
Here everything comes together. None of the above skills will end up doing anything for you without the right strategy.
As a product manager you will need to solve tricky puzzles and answer difficult questions. The best thing to do is to remember these skills and how to apply them all in every scenario. Once mastered you will find yourself on the road towards success.
In short, don’t be rash. Make sure your decisions and actions are well thought out and takes everything into account. Use your head and most importantly use your skills!
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
There you have it, the five essential skills a product devlopment manager needs to have. Don’t take any of these for granted and lose sight what’s important.
As a product manager you are able and expected to manage the products of a company. You will have the ability to affect the design, profit, and direction of any given product.
With great power comes great responsibility. The product is the central point of any company and is therefore heavily depended on. You, the product manager, are heavily depended on.
Now, all that’s left is to get out there and accomplish your goals as a successful product manager!