A product manager is someone involved in all areas of production, including setting strategies; developing products; and working with relevant project team members, such as designers, developers, and marketing and sales specialists.
As such, their goal is to ensure each stage of product development is completed on time and within budget. They also work to ensure product plans align with the company’s goals and the customers’ needs. Read on to learn more about what a project manager does and what skills and experience are required to become a successful product manager.
Portions of this definition originally appeared on CIO Insight and are excerpted here with permission.
What Skills Are Most Important for a Product Manager?
A product manager is responsible for monitoring and managing products both before and after launch, so they need a variety of soft and technical skills to make sure each product is a success.
Some of the soft skills of a successful product manager include:
- Leadership: A product manager should be a role model for their teams and inspire them to do their best.
- Time management: Product managers should be able to complete tasks on time without sacrificing quality or creating stress for the team.
- Communication: Written and verbal communication skills, as well as the ability to present complex ideas simply and clearly, are imperative for a product manager.
- Delegation skills: Product managers should be able to determine when it is and is not appropriate to delegate tasks.
- Prioritization: A product manager should understand which tasks are the most important to ensure they are completed before moving on to less critical ones.
- Strategic thinking: The ability to identify problems and create a plan for solving them is a necessary skill for product managers.
Technical skills that project managers typically need include:
- Development principles: Product managers must understand the software development life cycle in relation to product development and task duration.
- Research and analysis: It’s necessary for a product manager to research and analyze market conditions, competitors, company needs, and more from various sources to ensure product development meets company goals and customer needs.
- A/B testing: Product managers should know how to conduct A/B testing—an experiment comparing two versions of a web page, app screen, or other product—to ensure their product is the best it can be.
- User life cycle: A product manager should have an idea of what support users might need, depending on which stage of the user life cycle they are in while interacting with a product.
What Is the Difference Between a Product Manager and a Project Manager?
While both product managers and project managers work with stakeholders to ensure a product is delivered on time, project managers tend to work with tangible deliverables, and product managers depend on interpersonal skills to work toward a company’s long-term goals.
Moreover, project managers tend to work on a smaller scale, building and relying on strategies to ensure particular projects meet their deadlines. Comparatively, product managers focus on a much larger scope, overseeing everything from the conceptualization and design phases to the maintenance of products once they’ve been launched.
Read next: Best Product Management Certifications