What it Takes to be Successful as a Software Product Manager

I often hear of inexperienced Software Product Managers (PMs) failing because they do not have the values, skills, and experience to execute properly.

Below is a clear outline of the PM role and the values, skills, and experience that are required to be successful:

The Role of a Software Product Manager -

PMs empower a product team of designers and engineers to solve customer and business problems. The products that are built need to be valuable, viable, usable, and feasible.

PMs are responsible for ensuring that the solution is valuable (customers choose to buy or use it) and viable (solution works within the many constraints of the business).

Product designers ensure that the solution is usable (users can figure out how to use it).

Product engineers ensure that the solution is feasible (product can be built given the skills of the team and the technology stack chosen).

Given the above responsibilities, PMs need to ensure that they have the right team in place by having a clear understanding of the culture that needs to be established and the skills and experience that are needed in order to solve problems.

PMs contribute to the team’s success by being experienced in the domain as well as marketing, sales, service, finance, legal, and privacy to mitigate risks.

PMs remove roadblocks for the team and track industry trends as well as the competitive landscape to ensure that the product features are properly prioritized.

Products succeed due to innovative problem-solving, proper feature decisions, and effective marketing so PMs must create an environment of transparency and collaboration so that the team can solve hard problems easily and conduct continuous discovery and continuous delivery effectively and efficiently.

Values, Skills, and Experience of a Software Product Manager -

Product Managers need to be servant-leaders and extremely effective in developing relationships and problem-solving. Servant-leaders are empathetic, creative, and persuasive problem solvers.

PMs have solid skills and experience in business, marketing, design, and technology. They need to have enough experience with UX design to hire the right designers and do the necessary wireframing or clickable mock-ups to earn their respect. Likewise, they need to have experience in technology stacks and system design to hire the right developers and ask the right questions while processing the information to earn the respect of the engineers.

PMs need to have 2+ years’ experience leading software teams in the complete product lifecycle: vision, strategy, and development to be effective as there is no substitute for experience.

Specifically, PMs need to have experience in the following aspects of the product life cycle:

a) Concept (Lean Startup): persona development, opportunity sizing, problem validation, design sprints, pitching

b) Design (Design Thinking): requirement elicitation towards MVP, risk management, hypotheses testing, UX, system design, product roadmap, OKRs & KPIs, communications, go-to-market strategy

c) Launch & Growth (Agile + Lean + Kanban): go/no-go decision, sprint 0, release & sprint planning, marketing, web & data analysis, delighting customers

d) Maturity (Agile + Value Stream Mapping + Lean + Kanban): operational excellence, stakeholder management, web & data analysis, hiring and coaching A+ professionals, fostering a collaborative servant-leader culture, and structuring systems for continuous discovery and continuous delivery

The above is a quick summary to assist hiring managers.

Please let me know if you have any questions at: juan@juanbarberis.com

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Sr. Product Manager | Converting IoT products into fast-to-market global competitors

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