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The Hard Skills of a Product Manager

Last updated:
23rd Oct, 2017
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The Hard Skills of a Product Manager

As a Product Manager, the ultimate responsibility for the product’s launch and success rests on your shoulders. You need to collaborate with various departments, such as design and engineering, to get the job done. For this, you need to inculcate a number of skills that will help you understand your product better and manage it in an efficient manner.

“You are kind of the mini-CEO – with all of the responsibility…but without any of the authority.”

– Josh Elman, Partner at Greylock, former Product Manager at Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Here are the most important Hard Skills you need as a Product Manager:

1. User experience design

A knowledge of user experience design (UX), ensures you to visualise a unique and usable product that fulfills expectations of a user. While designing this product a Product Manager must specifically set user context and understand user expectations.
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2. Technology

An understanding of the technical aspects of your product will enable you to leverage technology to solve any problem that may arise. In short, while leveraging technology to solve problems as a Product Manager, you must also build technical expertise along the way. This will ensure clarity of communication with the engineers working on the product, which infuses synergies with them and also helps you earn their respect.
If you come from a tech background already, just remember that you are now a Product Manager and too much interference in the tech team’s work may not go down well.

“As a Product Manager, if you don’t understand tech, you won’t be able to relate to a path that can take you forward. You will have to rely on secondary knowledge only.”

– Akshay Rajwade, Chief Product Officer, Nearbuy. 

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3. Data understanding

If your company doesn’t rely on data, you need to introduce a data-driven culture. Data can help you understand many aspects of your product’s performance as well as validate any instincts you may have in this regard.

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A coherent understanding of data can help you to monitor:

(i) Metrics around product usage by consumers.

(ii) Hits and misses.

(iii) Stages where consumers tend to fall off or drop-off points, during the usage of the product.

(iv) Your instincts as a Product Manager.

“If you want to be a Data Analytics Product Manager for instance, and then if you don’t have domain knowledge, it can get very difficult.”

– Ashwin Venkatraman, Chief Product Officer, Furlenco.

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4. Business sense

You need to mainly decide where to invest two things – your team’s time and resources. Accordingly, you need to build a product roadmap thereafter that leads to success and profitability.
The Soft Skills of a Product Manager

Product Managers are multi-skilled animals. They need to master skills related to data, technology, business, design, etc. But how can one individual know so many things? Well, who said it was easy to make a career out of Product Management? But you can always start somewhere.

Along with the hard skills, you will also need to work very hard to foster in yourself a number of soft skills.

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These hard skills will help you manage all the teams well and work on forming logical, consistent frameworks for building your product.

As the demand for product managers continues to rise, investing in a product management certification course is worth it. upGrad’s Post Graduate Certificate in Product Management is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for aspiring product managers to get certified by premier global institute Duke CE. 



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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the hard skills of a product manager?

Product managers need to have some background in technology – such as a graduate degree in computer science or IT, or an engineering degree. This helps them to work better with product developers. They should also have a basic knowledge of tools such as wireframe, Google Analytics, and Microsoft excel, PowerPoint and Project. Knowledge of data analytic tools would also be a huge plus, especially for someone looking for product management roles in a technology based company. Next, product managers must have a basic understanding of business management such as financial analysis, reading and interpreting cash flow statements, strategy planning, marketing, and so on.

2What is required to get a job in product management?

Engineers with a few years of work experience as developers with an MBA degree from a reputed institution are the top choices for most recruiters looking to hire product managers. For more senior product management roles, recruiters also expect candidates to have a good amount of experience involving functions such as technical product development, project management, data analytics and so on with an exposure towards financial analysis and digital marketing. If you wish to get a job as a product manager, but find yourself short of some of the required skills, you can easily upgrade your knowledge by pursuing affordable online courses in product management.

3Is it possible to get a job as a product manager without an MBA?

Yes, it is possible to get a job as a product manager without an MBA. However, you will still need to demonstrate your understanding of technology through a graduation degree and related work experience. If you have more than 10 years of work experience in a technical role, it may be possible for you to get product management roles at middle management level with technology based firms. Alternatively, you can pursue a course in product management to bolster your existing qualifications and experience with the business management skills you need so that you can easily qualify for product management jobs.