4 Key Considerations When Pursuing a Career in Product Management

Product Management 101

Product management plays a critical role in the conception, development and release of digital technology. Everything from mobile apps to video games require a detailed product management strategy to create the right offerings to meet consumer demand.

If you’re looking to break into that field and become a product manager yourself, there are some important factors you need to keep in mind. Product managers Anand Subramani and Jiaona Zhang recently conducted a webinar to address common questions about their industry as well as give participants a taste of the day-to-day life of a product manager. They offered up four key considerations that students should keep in mind before stepping into the job market.

1. Product management is a moving target

It can be difficult to develop a comprehensive product management curriculum because it means so many different things to different businesses. A product manager’s role in one company could vary wildly from the responsibilities and assignments that someone in the same position handles at another organization.

Still, Subramani and Zhang outlined a few core requirements that will stay consistent, regardless of where you land a job:

  • Setting the vision for the product.
  • Managing a portfolio of projects.
  • Pushing out finished products to customers.
  • Managing the product lifecycle.

2. Products need to solve a problem

Any successful product or service, whether its aimed at consumers or business users, addresses a pressing problem for its target audience. One person’s problem is another person’s opportunity.

Identifying the central concern your proposed product solves is a fundamental step in the product management lifecycle. As Zhang explains, everything else that follows stems from that problem.

3. Find the balance between user and company benefits

It is possible for a product to be too good at solving a problem, and essentially destroy any chance for profitability in the process. Every good product needs to offer some benefit to the user, but if it comes at a significant cost to the company, then the business will fail.

Subramani gave the example of MoviePass, the now-defunct subscription service. It had an extremely enticing pitch: For the cost of one movie ticket, users could sign up to see as many movies as they wanted at participating theaters. The company experienced rapid growth in a short amount of time, bringing in a significant number of users.

But MoviePass lost money on every subscription, and it’s business model was ultimately unsustainable.

An idea needs to be good for both the user and the company, or it will never deliver on its revenue opportunities.

4. Waterfall is not the answer

There are a lot of pieces to the product management lifecycle, and at first glance, it seems like each one should follow the other in a step-by-step process. But a waterfall-style approach is almost never advisable. The product management lifecycle typically proceeds in a much more agile fashion using iterative processes. As a product manager, you should continually incorporate feedback into each phase of the lifecycle and refine your approach to release the best possible final product.

Subramani and Zhang had much more to share regarding their experiences as product managers. Their insights and guidance on the product management lifecycle are extremely valuable to anyone considering a career in this industry.

Register for the on-demand webinar

If you’re ready to take the next step toward a career in product management, consider enrolling in an online professional development course today.