The pros and cons of becoming a product manager

If becoming a product manager is your career goal, these tips from experienced product managers about what you need to know can help to ensure that you're set up for success.

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Product development is not an easy job. The pressure to develop high-quality products or enhancements over short periods of time for an organization are all job expectations that can cause many stress-filled days and nights.

If becoming a product manager is your career goal, keep reading. Four experienced product management experts share the pros and cons of being a product manager as well as their best tips to help you be successful in this position.

SEE: 10 ways to prevent developer burnout (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Product manager job pros

  • The best thing about the job is the creativity required to keep ahead of competitors in terms of content and functionality. --Darren Cottingham, product manager, DT Driver Training
  • Most appealing is capturing the talents of a vast team and aligning the vast personalities to execute against a common vision.--Charley Miller, head of product and co-founder, TouchCast
  • Understanding complex customer problems and building the right solutions for their problems is definitely appealing. -- Ashish Malpani, director of product marketing, HID Global. Malpani also enjoys driving product strategy and marketing requirements.
  • There's a creative and intellectual challenge of balancing new vs. practical vs. profitable that is legitimately exciting.--Christopher Getner, chief product officer, wirewheel.io

SEE: Telephone interview cheat sheet: Project manager (Tech Pro Research)

Product manager job cons

  • The worst thing about the job is having to overcome the limitations imposed by budget and technology.--Darren Cottingham, product manager, DT Driver Training
  • The Product Manager role takes tremendous soft skills to align everyone, so you have to budget a lot of time around communication while concentrating on product details. I love communicating, but I dislike having to repeat myself to the same people yet that comes with the role.--Charley Miller, head of product and co-founder of TouchCast
  • Malpani said that one aspect he doesn't enjoy is the expectation that product managers are very technical and deep into the weeds of the products. This sometimes impacts the ability to see the bigger picture and overall market needs.
  • The challenge for any product leader is that you need to learn to be comfortable being accountable for things largely out of your control.--Christopher Getner, chief product officer, wirewheel.io. Guest added that the organization controls the resources to build, and sales and marketing control access for customers. The product is the one that brokers the intersection, often with limited resources.

SEE: Quick glossary: Project management (Tech Pro Research)

Advice

  • To be a product manager in the IT space, it's important to have an excellent understanding of the user experience (UX), as well as being able to bridge the communications gap between what users say they want and how you convey that to the developers and designers.--Darren Cottingham, product manager, DT Driver Training
  • It's important for product managers to learn how to visually communicate and articulate product plans efficiently. --Charley Miller, head of product and co-founder of TouchCast
  • It's important to understand what it means to be a product manager in your organization. Shadow a product manager for a day, attend product camp (a free conference for product managers organized by product managers) and do training via LinkedIn, pragmatic marketing, etc. before making a decision to become one.--Ashish Malpani, director of product marketing, HID Global
  • Learning to sharpen your technical skills, while simultaneously exposing yourself to as much design and UX information as possible, said Getner. He further explained that talking to people that use the products or services you are working on, and listening is a product manager's unfair advantage.
  • In addition, spend some time researching the job requirements, look at job postings and training options to see what the role will entail and talk to professionals about their experiences.

Also see

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