The benefits of effective product management are significant. Forbes has noted that effective product management in IT, for example, can:
- Reduce costs
- Improve productivity
- Strengthen internal controls
- Better align information technology with business needs
Product management entails a range of responsibilities focused on the development, marketing, and refinement of an organization’s products or services. And while product management is often closely associated with IT, a host of other industries such as finance or biotechnology can benefit from the diverse set of product management skills that professionals in the field possess.
Ranging from soft skills like leadership and communication to technical skills in areas such as data analysis and agile methodology, the skills of product managers enable them to make valuable contributions to many enterprises. Those considering enrolling in a graduate product management program can benefit from learning about the skills that make product managers effective.
Honing Technical Skills Enables Product Managers to Achieve Objectives
Strong capabilities in product management encompass a range of technical skills, as the examples below demonstrate.
Product managers don’t just focus on high-level ideas for products or services. They also need to be able to specify the technical requirements for those products or services. Their skills in creating detailed requirements and specifications are critical in setting direction for development and engineering teams.
Data analysis is useful in many professions, and product management is no exception. Product managers apply their skills in data analytics to identify market trends, respond quickly to market needs, and gauge consumer satisfaction levels.
A primary responsibility of a product manager is to look at a product or service from a consumer’s point of view. Product managers benefit from developing an understanding of the needs of those who will use their product and addressing those needs in the design stage.
The agile methodology can accelerate the phases of the product life cycle and promote better understanding and cohesion among diverse teams. It’s crucial for product managers to develop skills in agile methodology because this approach can provide them with vital feedback more rapidly than traditional approaches to product development.
A critical component of the product management skill set, market research skills enable product managers to determine whether a market exists for a new product or service. Strong market research skills also help product managers identify ways in which a product or service could best meet users’ needs.
It’s always important for product managers to keep the bottom line in mind. Individuals who work in product management benefit from developing skills in areas of business such as budgeting and revenue projection. They also need to be able to understand cash flows, interpret financial information, and explain how product development strategies align with business objectives.
Cultivating Soft Skills Helps Product Managers Succeed
It’s also important for product managers to possess a range of soft skills. Some prominent examples are discussed below.
A large part of their job involves asking for and receiving feedback, so it’s crucial that product managers communicate effectively. Product managers also need strong communication skills to build relationships with all the stakeholders involved in developing an organization’s products or services.
Having the ability to manage the time it takes to develop, market, and refine a product or service is essential for remaining within established budgets. Strong time management skills also help product managers satisfy the expectations of stakeholders and achieve objectives for an organization’s products or services.
Product managers who possess strong leadership skills can inspire others and motivate them to give their best effort. Skills in leadership also enhance a product manager’s ability to delegate tasks effectively.
Having the ability to adjust is also an important skill in product management. Flexibility enables product managers to reset priorities in response to changes in the business climate or when new competition emerges.
A great deal of the work associated with managing products or services involves solving problems. Successful product managers know how to pinpoint issues and identify the best solutions. They can also empathize with the problems that customers encounter and devise ways to address those problems when developing new products or services.
Stakeholders can have competing needs and viewpoints. Therefore, product managers need to know how to resolve conflicts and develop compromises that can satisfy all parties.
How to Build Product Management Skills
Aspiring product managers can acquire and maintain the aforementioned skills, along with a host of others, through a variety of means. For example, they can:
- Pursue advanced education. A great way to develop skills in product management is to earn a graduate degree in product management. Regis College’s online Master of Science in Product Management offers courses in areas such as business communication, data analysis, and marketing that are valuable in launching a career in product management. Designed to address skill gaps in the market, the program is also ideal for product professionals who want to take their careers to the next level or move into a different area of product management. Additionally, the program includes a capstone project that allows students to devise a product road map and take a product through the entire product lifecycle.
- Develop skills on the job. After landing an entry-level position, aspiring product managers can look for opportunities to hone their skills. For instance, they can volunteer to take on responsibilities that enable them to advance in areas such as leadership.
- Work on side projects. In their spare time, individuals who want to further cultivate their product management skills can practice identifying a problem and developing a unique solution to address it. For example, they can develop an app to address a specific issue.
- Learn from experienced product managers. Reading books written by experienced product managers, joining online communities of product managers, or listening to podcasts that focus on product management can expose aspiring product managers to insights about the skills they need.
Gain Product Management Skills with a Master’s Degree
Organizations of many kinds value strong product management skills. Equipped with both soft and technical skills, individuals have the potential to carve out a fulfilling career in product management.
Those who are interested in a career in product management should explore Regis College’s online Master of Science in Product Management degree program to learn how it can help them reach their professional goals. Offering specializations in IT, finance, and pharmaceuticals/biotechnology, the program allows you to tailor your education to a particular area of interest and can help you develop the skills to advance in this growing field.
Start working toward your career goals today.