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Cover image for Notes - How to become a Product Manager

Notes - How to become a Product Manager

koscheyscrag profile image Andrei Fedotov Updated on ・3 min read

Recently I've listened to talks on GitCommitShow. One of them was about becoming a product manager by Gaurav Nemade. I really enjoyed his speech. So I made notes for myself according to what he talked about. But I suppose perhaps these notes would also be helpful for someone else.

The speaker focuses on two points:

  1. What exactly is the job of a Product Manager

  2. Getting into product management

Let's go over the points.

What exactly is the job of a Product Manager

Let's imagine that we are developing an application. What the app is gonna be doing is it is just gonna be helping people to play the guitar.

What game should we be playing? (aka define the product strategy)

  1. What kind of solution should we build?
    1. A peer-to-peer network of tutors & learners (Uber for guitar learning)
    2. A collection of guitar chords (wikipedia for guitar learning)
    3. A tutor app with coaching functionality (Karoake style app for guitar learning)
  2. What is the goal for company & project?
    1. Increase users; ear more revenues; side project out of interest
  3. What are the core user needs & segments?
    1. What are user pain points and needs?
    2. Should we target the amateur players of advanced guitar players?
  4. How is the overall industry & trend?
    1. What's the value proposition of Ultimate Guitar, Yousician & others.
    2. What new technologies are that can help improve guitar learning.

Prioritization of Efforts

What game are we playing -> Build a guitar tutoring app for newbies with a goal of building user base.

Next we are listing the whole bunch of features we want to build.

Features to build

  • Library of chords
  • Lessons with progressive difficulty
  • Record what user is playing
  • Pick mistakes by using a ML model
  • 25 others...

What we need to do next is just to decide which features we want to see first and choose them; which features we can develop later; and perhaps some feature not actual anymore during the work. So I understand it as a kind of prioritizing.

Features to build

  • Library of chords [Phase-1]
  • Lessons with progressive difficulty [Phase-1]
  • Record what user is playing [Dropped]
  • Pick mistakes by using a ML model [Phase-2]
  • 25 others...

Balancing act

  • User requests
  • Business needs
  • Best for the product (short-term vs long-term)

A good phrase is: "If Everything Is a Focus, Nothing Is A focus"

Product manager's responsibility is to define what is in a focus.

Execution

At the end of the day, Product Manager ships products and they do whatever else it takes.

A. Clear specifications on what to build and why

B. Analyze user data

If there is no data analyzer then it is PM's responsibility.

  • Which lessons are being played the most? Add them as features lessons?

C. Quality Analyst of the product

  • Learn to play guitar and test the product everyday.

D. Interface with (or fill in for) x-functional needs

  • Running marketing campaign, working with lawyers to build privacy policies, working with UX, partnerships team and more.

Getting into product management

The question is "Should I be a Product Manager?"

"It depends!", the speaker says.

The positives and the challenges of being a PM

Positives

  • Solving a real-world problem
    • Front and center of identifying problems to solve
  • Breadth vs depth
    • Broad exposure to industry, competitive products, x-functional teams (Design, Sales, Marketing, Legal, etc.)
  • Leadership training
    • "What" & "Why" in development cycle (vs SWEs primary focus on "How")
    • People skills

Challenges

  • Lack of tangible skills
    • PMs rely a lot on intagible skills
  • Leading w/o authority
    • PMs almost never have direct authority over SWE team and have to work with influence.
  • Busy than most other roles
    • Have to work with different areas
    • Meeting are a way of life no (or very less) coding
  • "If it succeeds, it's because of the team. If it fails, it's because of you (the PM)"

Prepping to be a PM

  • Product & strategic Insights: Build your product insights & strategic insights by studying loads of case studies and being curios about products around you
  • Communication skills: Develop negotiation (& preferrably) public speaking skills.
  • Understand different types of PM roles: B2C vs B2B, Hardware vs Software, Front end vs backend technology PM, etc.
  • Prepare well for interviews: different companies have different interview process (common themes are product & strategic insights, analytical, creativity, communication as main criteria).

Strategy: THINK LIKE A PM - "What would I do if I were the PM of the product?" (So PM thinks this way for every product they see)

All these wonderful things I caught in Gaurav's talk.

Cheers!

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