The final three skills you need to become a great PM (toolkit pt.3)
Here is the third and final part of my PM toolkit series.
If you are reading this, I am assuming that you have already read the earlier parts of this series. If you haven't you can check them out here
If not, then check it out first here! You can also come back to it after reading the rest of this article.
So let's round out the final three skills I mentioned in this diagram —
These final three skills focus on the management aspect of the role. Let’s look into why —
Leadership is an integral skill for a Product Manager. Leadership comes in all forms and levels, and even when you are not essentially in a managerial position, you might still be required to take the lead in projects especially when it involves multiple stakeholders who are working on a feature/idea that you proposed.
You would be required to make decisions that would affect the way other people work, and use the money/time/effort resources of your company.
A good Product Manager needs to be able to set the vision and motivate everyone working on the project.
Finally, as you start rising into actual managerial positions such as Senior Product Manager, VP Product, or even Chief Product Officer, you need to be a good role model for the Product Managers working under you and nurture them into great Product Leaders. Assigning the right kind of tasks and encouraging them to take challenges as well as constantly learn from you and other sources around you will ensure that they carry your legacy forward.
Leadership is an innate skill, but it is also something that is cultivated through experience, success, failure, and a lot of retrospection.
When we are not in communication with stakeholders or thinking hard about what problems to solve, most of our leftover time goes into writing documentation for products and features. In general, they are referred to as PRDs or Product Requirement Documents.
A PRD format can be different among different companies or even teams within the companies, but they usually include some similar components like
- The Purpose of the product
- The users and different scenarios that your user would interact with the product in
- The features and functionality of the product
- User flow and wireframes
- Further information and links to resources that might be helpful
These documents would be referred to by everyone during the entire release cycle.
- Designers will use this to understand the scenarios that your feature addresses and then creates the design and experience.
- Developers create their own specifications using these
- Finally, the testing team will use your scenarios to create and execute the test cases.
These sacred texts need to be written very clearly because once it is approved, it is the golden word. If you fail to define anything clearly or miss some important functionality, it would be very hard to fix that in the later stages as the priorities of the team may change.
Trust me I have made this mistake in the earlier stages of my PRD writing, and some of my tools are still missing some core functionality today. :(
I have already explained the difference between Product Management and Product Management in a previous post, however, PMs may have to perform Project Management from time to time. Especially if there is no actual Project Manager in your team.
This is because a lot of times when we are dealing with budgeting, deadlines as well as multiple departments and stakeholders, the tasks of getting it all together is usually intuitively taken up by the Product Manager so that everyone else (designers, developers and testers) can focus on the actual implementation in a smooth way.
So don’t be surprised if you are suddenly tasked with creating schedules, delegating and defining responsibilities, or managing the product budget, it's all part of the job.
Honestly, anything and everything required to get a product released is part of the job.
Product Manager is one of the most versatile roles in the tech industry, or I would go on to say any industry.
You need to have a good mix of skills ranging from technical and business to management and communication. You get to define the broad vision of a product, but you might also be required to go into it and find the smallest of bugs within it.
But in the end, it's all worth it. The satisfaction of seeing your product being used by people is the reason we all became PMs in the first place. Along with that, you get to interact and work with people from all types of backgrounds, ages, and skills.
So if you are interested in becoming a Product Manager, review the nine skills in the Venn diagram and see which you're strong in already and which ones you might want to improve on.
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Here is my article series on Product Management if you are interested to read further.