The idea to write this post came to me while I was browsing through all the web pages I have bookmarked till date; pages that are related to Product Management. I just wish there was a tool that could create a mind-map of sorts with all the links you have ever bookmarked. I am actually working on building that tool, but more on that later.
In the meantime, I wondered if I could do something with all the information I have gathered while researching Product Management over the past few months, into a sort of easy-to-grasp chart. And was there ever a more recognized chart than the Periodic Table of Elements? I don’t think so! So, here I’ve attempted to organize all the information in this simple format that can help any new Product Manager get a complete picture of what this function entails and the best resources out there to help improve your knowledge of Product Management.
Core Skills for a T-Shaped Product Manager
There is a reason why this skill is at the head of the table. This is the most used and most required skillset of a Product Manager.
There are always thousands of things that can be done, hundreds of strategies to follow, dozens of ways something can be implemented, but you have limited resources in terms of time, manpower, capital and the opportunity to satisfy the customers. In such a scenario, a Product Manager has to know what to prioritise and what to say NO to. It is often said that a Product Manager’s job is more about saying NO then about saying YES.
But these decisions should not be taken from a position of authority, rather they should be about asking the fundamental questions to understand the root cause and being very clear about the ‘Why’ of the product and the business.
Read: Product management jobs and their career prospects.
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Research skills (Rs)
From market research to user research, or just researching on the internet about the best tools that can be used to solve a particular problem, Product Managers have to develop good research skills.
Business acumen (Ba)
An understanding of business profitability, competitors, industry dynamics, regulations, unit economics, pricing and ecosystem play is critical for the success of a Product Manager. In most companies, Product Management is actually a business function. Product Managers act as the critical interface between the business and its customers, and the management and engineers. Understanding the business of your product is very important to succeed in this role.
Check out our business management courses to upskill yourself.
Technical know-how (Tk)
There is no industry in the world which is untouched by technology.
Knowing what lies under the hood of your product is very important for a number of reasons, Mainly, for communicating with engineers and understanding what they are talking about; and strategising better about issues, shortcomings and potential opportunities to achieve business goals better, via technology, etc.
Sometimes it is better to show than to tell. Making quick prototypes are a good way to not only communicate better to customers and other stakeholders, but also to collect feedback. Words and presentations can only convey so much, but if you give someone a prototype (no matter how rudimentary), that’s when things finally become clear and quality feedback is collected.
upGrad’s Exclusive Product Management Webinar for you –
How to craft GTM Strategy for a Product?
Analytical skills (As)
A Product Manager must be good at handling and inferring data. In fact, a crucial part of a Product Manager’s day-to-day life is studying data around customer behaviour, revenue growth, etc, and trying to decipher all sorts of patterns from this data, to guide the product better.
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Communication skills (Cs)
Effective presentation, team management, and goal-setting start with being good with communication. A Product Manager has to lead without authority and so these skills become even more important for a Product Manager. You might be a whiz kid, but not having good communication skills will neither make you popular among your engineers nor the decision-makers in the company.
Frameworks to keep in mind
- AARRR (Ar)
AARRR or (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue) is a framework for the customer lifecycle.
- Agile Methodology (Ag)
It describes a set of principles of software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organising cross-functional teams.
- Network Effect (Nw)
It is a phenomenon whereby a product or service gains additional value as more people use it. Understanding this is crucial to building good products in today’s world.
- Technology Adoption Lifecycle (Li)
The technology adoption lifecycle is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups.
- Economies of Scale (Es)
A proportionate saving in costs gained by an increased level of production.
- Product Market Fit (Pmf)
Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.
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Books to develop deeper knowledge
- The Lean Start-up (Ls)
- The Hard Things About Hard Things (Ht2)
- Inspired (In)
- Design of Everyday Things (Det)
- Don’t Make Me Think (Dmt)
- The Mythical Man-Month (Mm)
- Sprint (St)
- Hooked (Ho)
- The Four Steps to Epiphany (Fse)
- The Product Manager’s Survival Guide (Sg)
- The Product Manager’s Desk Reference (Dr)
- Traction (Tr)
- Cracking the PM Interview (Cpi)
Subscribe to these newsletters to stay in touch with the latest and learn from the best
- Hacker News (Hn)
- Product Hunt (Ph)
- Ken Norton’s blog (Knb)
- Mind the Product blog (Mtp)
- Silicon Valley Product Group newsletter (Sv)
- Product Management HQ newsletter (Phq)
Some of the curated online courses that are relevant for Product people
- Post Graduate Certificate in Product Management– UpGrad
- Product design by Google – Udacity
- Agile development by University of Virginia – Coursera
- Interaction design by University of Southern California – Coursera
- Become a Product Manager by Cole Mercer – Udemy
- Product Management: Career preparation for success by Felix Thea – Udemy
- Intro to Product Management – Highbrow
Search these on the internet to familiarise yourself with Product jargon
- Voice of customer (Vc)
- Scrum (Sc)
- Sprint (Sp)
- User story (Us)
- API (Ap)
- High fidelity mockup (Mo)
- UI (Ui)
- A/B Test (Ab)
- MVP (Mv)
- NPS (Np)
- Landing Page (Lp)
- USP (Up)
- Persona (Pe)
- User journey (Uj)
- PRD (Pd)
- Product Roadmap (Ro)
- Wireframes (Wf)
- Epic (Ep)
- Churn rate (Ch)
- Hypothesis validation (Hv)
- Bug (B)
- Acceptance tests (Ac)
- Onboarding (Ob)
- Referral (Rf)
- Viral (V)
- Conversion funnel (Cf)
- Performance optimisation (Po)
- Vanity metrics (Vm)
- Core metrics (Cm)
- Throughput (Tp)
- Go-to-Market (Gm)
- Alpha test (At)
- Beta test (Bt)
- Usability testing (Ut)
- User experience (Ux)
- Feedback loop (Fl)
Product Management Tools
In place of Poor metals (15 elements)
- Invision (Iv) – Design prototyping tool for basic to interactive prototypes
- Asana (Aa) – Easy project management tool
- Hotjar (Hj) – Tool for visitor recordings, heat maps, etc
- JIRA (Ji) – Popular issue tracking, bug tracking and project management tool
- Zendesk (Zk) – Used to track, prioritise and solve customer support tickets
- Zapier (Za) – ‘If this, then this’ tool for business that integrates various apps
- MailChimp (Mc) – Email marketing software
- Typeform (Tf) – Engaging online forms, surveys, quizzes, etc
- Webengage (We) – On-site customer engagement tool
- Intercom (Ic) – Customer messaging app for sales, marketing and support
- Google Analytics (Ga) – Web analytics service by Google
- Unbounce (Un) – Create landing pages and website overlays without the help of developers
- Mixpanel (Mx) – Mobile & Web analytics tool for tracking users
- Zeplin (Ze) – Collaboration tool between designers and developers
- Moqups (Mq) – Wireframing tool
- Freshdesk – Improve customer experiences and business processes
People to follow on Twitter
In place of Lanthanides (15 elements)
- Josh Elman – @joshelman
- Hunter Walk – @hunterwalk
- Julie Zhou – @joulee
- Ryan Hoover – @rrhoover
- Ken Norton – @kennethn
- Jake Knapp – @jakeknapp
- Marty Cagan – @cagan
- Steve Blank – @sgblank
- Eric Ries – @ericries
- Ben Horowitz – @bhorowitz
- Martin Erikson – @bfgmartin
- Nir Eyal – @nireyal
- Roman Pichler – @romanpichler
- Dan Olsen – @danolsen
- Paul Graham – @paulg
I hope this summarised set of information will help you focus on the more important thing – learning what needs to be learnt, and not waste time on finding what needs to be learnt.
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What are the skills required for product management roles?
The main skills required for product management roles involve a good understanding of technology, product development and core business management functions such as understanding how to prepare and analyse financial statements, projections, strategies based on data, and so on. Having a good understanding of marketing strategies and channel management would also be a plus, as it would help a product manager understand the best way to make their product profitable throughout the product cycle. Tools such as google analytics and wireframe would also be a plus, along with the ability to lead and manage cross functional teams.
Who should pursue product management courses?
Product management courses are best suited to professionals or post graduates who are interested in getting roles as a product manager, or wish to gain relevant experience creating, managing and driving products in the corporate world before starting their own business. Young entrepreneurs who wish to start their own product based company, but wish to gain additional skills can also pursue these courses. These courses enable students to gain a holistic knowledge of the different skills required by product managers including a basis of technology, business management skills and useful tools such as wireframe CC.
Why are some product managers more successful than others?
Product managers form career paths based on 2 things – the first being qualifications, and the other being experience and career choices. Individuals who have an MBA degree from a reputed institute, and start out their careers in a good organisation typically have an excellent start. Depending on their performance and ability to launch successful products, they can work their way up the corporate ladder within the same company, or by switching jobs. On the other hand, choices also matter. Passionate product managers who make the right choices in terms of roles and companies are often more successful than their peers who become product managers solely for the sake of getting good salaries rather than their love for the role.