Digital products have been taking over the market for about 15 years. As more and more tech companies emerge and non-tech companies transform themselves to tech companies, there is a shift towards digital products. Along with that comes Digital Product Management. So, what is Digital Product Management, or more specifically, what are the tasks of a digital product manager? A product manager is a technologist who tries to solve different business problems by using a feature or a program.
Of course, the manager cannot just produce any kind of product. A product manager has to work across several departments, especially with the stakeholders, learn the demands, make a vision out of it and then deliver a specific product. There is a host of analytics that goes into the business. Product management is not an easy task – but it’s a task that is coming in demand. And what is the primary requirement for a product manager – being a Software Developer?
How can you go from a developer to a Product manager?
Well, there are many steps one could take but you have to have one thing: passion. You must have a passion for coding and along with that, a creative insight.
First up, you have to build your credentials as a coder. Start coding young, move up to mastering data structures, algorithms, databases, etc. Earn an Engineering degree if you can and start your work as a developer in a company. But do not stop right there, continue going to hackathons and build your career.
Once you are in a company or you meet people in Hackathons, you will have made a strong network with other software designers, product designers, software developers, etc. Try to test out your product developing skills by teaming up with other people and making an Android app. Here is where your creative skills will come to use. Use your ‘design’ insight and how you want the app to work and try to implement it. It will give you an immense boost when you work and manage a team. Bring the product management mindset in your daily tasks. You can also sharpen your skills with constant competitive programming practice.
Generally, a move from developer to product manager takes place within the organization. Show your innovative skills in your work. Take an initiative and build unique features to the products you work on. Show your skills to the product manager of the company. Expose yourself to the CEO. Involve yourself with product managers more and learn from them. Plus, it is always a good thing to get an additional certificate on product management. After that, you can opt for a Product Management Internship within the company or outside. A product management internship will show you all the little things that you need to learn about product management.
Once you have a certificate and internship under your belt, you are all set to opt for the product manager role. The transition can take time but it should happen. If your current job does not have an opening for a product manager, you can always search and go to a different company which will value your hard work.
However, remember that there is no prescribed path to become a product manager. Also, you don’t need a technical degree to become a product manager. A person holding an MBA degree is eligible for the job role as well. However, in a technical field, you will have a bit of an edge due to your technical expertise. So, become a master of your field.
Some important tips
If you are on your way to becoming a product manager, you should prepare yourself in this manner:
- Learning: You should always be in an active learning mode. Be passionate about your products and the new products that come in the market. Learn about their back story- learn what makes them special. HackerNews and Product Hunt are great sites to refer to. Also, start reading more on products and product management. You can go for Inspired or other books like Cracking the PM Interview. To power yourself with different capabilities, you can check out the courses by Coding Ninjas.
- Networking: Go out and learn more about people and their demands. Create a network of different software developers and product managers. Talk to other entrepreneurs, growth hackers and engineers. The more you talk and create networks, the more chances you create for yourself. You become exposed to a larger audience, you learn more about product manager and you become aware of your goal. Hackathons are a great way to create networks. You can also follow Lean Product & Lean UX.
- Building Products: Product management has a lot to do with customer satisfaction, feedback loop, understanding trends and learning from mistakes. Even if your company does not demand it, you can always build new products on the side and try to understand customer demands. By building new products and teaming up with other people, you can understand how to work in teams as well as engage in some managerial activities. Along with that, you build up your reputation as a product manager which will further your chances to become a product manager in the future.
While there may not be a sure way to become a product manager, you can learn a lot from the process. Be active in learning and always take the initiative to do something better. Lead your own life, take action – make it go to the places you desire to achieve.
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