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11 August 2020

What are the Skill Required to be Product Manager

Usually, it is assumed that building a career in Product Management only requires the full-fledged knowledge of your product. That isn’t the case, however. Only the technical know-how isn’t enough. If you want to succeed as a respected and valued product manager, you need to have a set of skills that enables you to develop a product that exceeds customers’ expectations.

A product manager’s role straddles multiple responsibilities. On the basic level, the role is about building and implementing the product map. The PM’s work starts with market analysis and goes on even after the delivery of the product in the market. Further, the responsibilities include both solving day to day hurdles and working on meeting the short- and long-term objectives of the business and the customer.

This wide job description requires the candidate to attain mastery across several domains and skills. PMs also need certain soft skills in order to successfully navigate the many interpersonal hurdles they have to clear on any given day.

Leadership and Interpersonal Skills

Product management involves aligning all the operations to ensure that the product gets delivered in the market. Operations can be completed efficiently only when the people working on them are encouraged to perform their tasks.

Product managers ensure this by supporting others and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. It is important for managers to be able to empathize. It is all about having persuasion and keeping everyone working in the best way possible.

A good Product Manager is responsible for maintaining the alignment between the vision for the product that the company envisioned and the one the product team works upon. This requires connecting day-to-day tasks to the broader strategy. In short, you are supposed to show the people the big picture and where they fit. You have to help each member do their best to support the collective goal.

Strategic Thinking

A PM’s role involves creating a road map of the product. This requires knowing the objectives, understanding the market and competition, and posing the right questions. The Manager should be able to derive the phases of the product journey and forecast the time it will take in each segment. Further, it is important to position the product to work in accordance with the market cycle and manage the risks along the way of the production cycle. For all this to be possible, the product manager needs to create strategies and implement them to maximize profits and efficiency.

To make this possible, the Product Manager should have a solid understanding of the product life cycle, market segmentation, and competitive analysis. If this information is not available, the strategies formed will have less than enough basis to stand on. The probability of such plans executing perfectly is rather low. Some other strategic thinking skills useful in the product management field are problem-solving skills, risk management, goal orientation, etc.

Negotiation Skills

A product manager works with different sets of people, as mentioned earlier. He/she deals with teams, both internally and externally, stakeholders, organizations, etc. All of them have their own set of objectives and desired results. It is the Product Manager’s function to negotiate with each of them and reach an impasse where we are optimizing the situation and maximizing the product profit.

Whether it is about finding the cheapest supplier or the delivery service with the lowest estimated time or finding the lowest cost solution, a product manager is expected to effortlessly swift his/her way through it.

Negotiation Skills aren’t restricted to just the monetary transactions though. The PM’s job is to get the work done. To get that done, he/she requires good negotiation skills to manage the operations and the tasks. This includes negotiating on leaves, pay, timings, etc.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills follow on the heels of strategic thinking; strategies are made on the basis of information available. But for the data to be read and evaluated properly, the product manager needs to be able to analyze it. It's about researching and analyzing the right data to make decisions that maximize profits.

Many times, it is said that a Product Manager works on his/her instinct and gut feeling. However, in reality, an ideal PM makes decisions based on data-driven skills. Data can help notify the managers about the threats and opportunities in the market and can then guide them. It can also verify, before the allocation of resources, if the idea will attract customers in the market. A product manager with solid analytical skills knows how to use data to crunch numbers and create solutions for business strategy, product development, and pricing outlook.

One disclaimer here is that data can catch you off-guard. If someone has more understanding of the data than you have, it will be really easy for them to poke holes in your plan and sink the ship. Thus, it is necessary to be the utmost confidentiality of the data you used and the interpretations you made.

Prioritization Skills

Up until now, we have talked about the multi-dimensional nature of the responsibilities of a Product Manager. One thing to be noted though is that the budget is fixed and the time is limited. The PM can’t fulfill all the tasks. Thus, one of the product manager’s top required skills is to be a ruthless force for prioritization.

This criterion ensures that the efforts are put in the tasks that are most important. An extension of this skill is the ability to say no. This involves requests coming from sales, marketing, customers, even from the stakeholders.

Knowing how to prioritize and how to respectfully turn down requests that could hamper the product’s strategies, is an extremely significant skill. Even Science makes its way in this. Frameworks like Objective prioritization can be helpful in optimizing this skill.

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