According to Kevin Wu, co-founder and CEO of job search optimization program Pathrise, “Product management is one of the fastest growing fields in the US right now.” The reasoning? As more companies embrace software and tech, in general, the need for people who can lead and manage the process of planning, building, and implementing products is expanding as well.
While the name might sound self-explanatory, product management is actually more complicated than just managing a product from end-to-end. Product managers generally need to have a large variety of experience in order to be successful. Because the role is so cross-functional, meaning they work with a lot of different team members, product managers need to have knowledge of design, data, development, marketing, and even, sales.
In a survey by McKinsey, they learned that product managers define product strategy and requirements, engage with customers and stakeholders, review metrics, do market and competition research, and collaborate with design and technical teams. But, probably the most important aspect of their role comes with management. Product managers are responsible for building project roadmaps and plans, maintaining timelines and budgets, and coaching and managing their teams.
There are a few different ways that product managers actually manage their teams. One of these methods is called Agile. The goal of Agile product management is to make the large task into a series of smaller tasks. Then, these small projects get owners and deadlines. These mini-projects are done in short sprints that encourage teamwork. Each team member (designer, developer, copywriter, product manager, etc) is aware of the work being done. They try to provide rapid feedback and iterations to ensure it is being done correctly.
Another way that product managers work with their teams is through the Scrum methodology. Scrum is actually a type of Agile, so it has the same general idea: large projects are broken down. But, rather than breaking it down into smaller tasks that lead to the large project being finished at the end, Scrum breaks large projects down into small cycles of project creation. According to ScrumAlliance.org, “Scrum relies on cross-functional teams to deliver products and services in short cycles.”
Both of these tools help product managers successfully manage their products from ideation through implementation. They also keep the team feeling supported and motivated, which makes for a great environment for productivity. There are a lot of online classes and certificate programs that aspiring product managers can take so that they learn how to lead Agile and/or Scrum sessions. Having this knowledge, especially in the form of a certificate, can help separate candidates from their peers and give them a better chance of moving forward in interview processes, making it more likely that they get the job in the end.