In an increasingly harried and worried world, effective product managers are more critical than ever.
Product managers are a stabilizing force. They provide consistent oversight on a project’s development, keep all workers on the same page, and ensure the product vision isn’t lost in the shuffle. Product management has seen a surge in interest over the last decade, says Carl McDaniel from The Product Manager: a big reason for that is their valuable perspective and responsibility.
2021 and beyond is going to continue to see a rise in product management roles…but will there be enough qualified people to fill them? Let’s take a look at why this position is becoming so popular and what you should expect.
Product Management Trends Show Heightened Appeal
Innovative and bold people are often attracted to product management positions. While more strict roles might limit skillsets, the product manager needs to be flexible.
Multitalented people are inevitably drawn to the product management position, eager to make steady pay for their strengths. The product manager is involved in all stages of development, states Mohammad Abdul Saleem from What Makes A Project Manager Successful?, and is therefore consistently high in demand. This volume of responsibility can be daunting, so it’s not a position for the faint-of-heart.
“Experience in scale is very appealing to candidates, because the more challenging (in a good way!) a role or environment is, the further career growth and development they will have.”
Remote Work Has Increased the Need For Communication Skills
Remote work options, while not new, have exploded in popularity over the past few years. Going over project scope by the water cooler isn’t an option for many anymore.
Product managers that are comfortable with hybrid work teams and completely remote work teams will have an edge. Remote working conditions have been consistently challenging for traditionally-minded managers, says David Nickson from Remote Working. The heavy focus on tasks, instead of in-person interaction and relationship building, has left some at a loss.
When seeking out a product manager, you must emphasize the need for remote work familiarity. That means operating across multiple time zones, checking in on project progress more consistently, and using apps like Trello or Asana.
Digital Technology Gurus Are Leading the Charge
Cloud storage systems. Search engine optimization programs. Video conference software. There are a thousand and one digital tools at our disposal, which makes the particularly tech savvy product manager an in-demand resource.
While it’s not reasonable to expect a product manager to know every single last program, they need to be adaptable enough to learn digital technology quickly. This isn’t just for their own benefit, but the benefit of their team. Product managers are the glue that holds everyone together: if they stumble, everyone will.
“UX designers these days are intimately familiar with the step-by-step process that goes into the patient experience, from logging in to editing a profile. They’ve mastered the art of putting themselves in a user’s shoes and identifying their pain points, which is crucial in building tools that get patients the treatment they need.”
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Customers Have More Options Than Ever Before
A single Google Search can yield hundreds, even thousands, of options for a single product. Product managers are well aware of the challenges facing a product launch.
Retaining customers is one of the hardest tasks facing vendors today, states David Gefen from Customer Loyalty In E-Commerce. They expect responsiveness, reliability, and empathy, among other key features. Businesses that can’t hold a candle to the competition will be quickly forgotten.
A product manager will not just provide oversight for the research and development stage, but marketing prowess. They need to understand how to promote the product over the following months and tap into an already existing audience.
Project Management Specialists Have an Edge
While some job positions are more friendly to entry-level applicants, the inherent complexity of the product manager leaves little wiggle room for error. This gives managers with even a few years of experience an edge.
Project managers and product managers have heavy overlap, making this a good pool to start in. Both are capable at working with multiple teams of people and have specialties ranging from marketing to financing. Product managers are more focused on a digital or physical good, however, while project management can also include providing services.
“Deal sourcing has become a hot topic this year in the throws of COVID-19. Have VCs and PE firms stopped looking for deals? Are they more focused on investing in their current portfolios? Have they stopped activity all together? There hasn’t been a hard and fast rule, but here’s what we know: VCs have and are continuing to raise record funds.”
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Remote work will remain the working option of choice for many, even when the pandemic becomes more manageable again. Instead of hoping for it to ‘go away on its own’, it’s time to adapt.
Product managers that are highly specialized, comfortable with remote work, and regularly research digital tools will be an asset to your team. This role is only becoming more popular nowadays for its wide array of benefits. While competition won’t be as stiff compared to more solo positions, you still need to take your time finding the ideal match.