What does it take to become a good product manager?

If you do not see or do not know a difference between product and project management, then you probably have a big problem. To manage something efficiently one need to have clear understanding of what exactly is managed and how far area of interest/influence should go. If you are not sure, then it is probably a good idea to think about it.

Knowing who you are is a first step in becoming a good product or project manager. Seeing and understanding other side interest is the second important step. Carrying only about features while disregarding budget limits and delivery schedule does not make you a good product manager. Delivering your projects on time and within the budget would not make you a good project manager, but rather ensuring that code delivered meets all specified requirements. As a result, good product manager should be in a sense be a good project manager. Same is true for any good project manager.

Another thing to remember is that like in any mutual relationship, both parties benefit from each other, rather then trying fight each other.

Can a good Product manager be a good Project manager? Can a good Project manager be a good Product manager?
Yes and No.

There are many situations when person would wear both hats in his/her everyday work, but it does not mean it is a best approach.

By virtue of the definition, even though both have same target goals but do achieve them in different ways.

It is become more and more important for Software companies and their core management to get clear understanding of differences between projects and products, between methods used to manage them and between requirements for Product and Project managers. If such understanding is not reached then business might be set for failure.

All above covers mechanics of the title, but in reality it goes well beyond. Being a manager you are managing the whole process and team is very important part of it. You will succeed only when whole team succeed.

After being involved in many projects and working on many products the following list of rules have proven itself over and over:

  • be a professional – manager should understand a business he/she is in. One never become a good in something without throughout understanding of the work performed by others.
  • appreciate the work of others and they will appreciate yours
  • communicate – listen what people are to say, do not assume you are the ultimate “oracle” and “know-it-all”. There is always something new in every conversation, and it is beneficial for both parties.
  • develop the talent in each member of your team – trainings, meetings, study sessions – anything which benefits the overall knowledge, benefits the team productivity
  • do not be negative. When there is a negative feelings in the team, it will eventually affect creativity and productivity of the team. Find the source, understand the roots, see what can be done to overcome it and turn to positive side. Do not try to make problem be associated with the person who express it, but rather look for reasons problem exists. Removing person from the team might not solve the problem, but on the contrary make it more wide spread.
  • if you made a mistake – admit it – nothing more frustrating for the team as ignorance of its management.
  • be honest – trust and not power keeps team strong, making work a comfortable place
  • and be yourself– do not “have” different “faces” for your boss and your team, they both deserve the same level of communication.


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