Why do you need to be a hands-on Product Manager?

Product Management is a hybrid role and depending on where you work, your list of responsibilities vary. You need to have different skill-set to be able to build a product that is valuable, usable and feasible. Also, product manager responsibilities comes from working with multiple teams and within the frame-work of product development. So it’s hard to showcase product manager abilities in a stand alone context. What I mean by that is, a software developer has working code and a designer has portfolio to show for but what is a concrete output of a Product Manager?

This is why it’s so important to be a hands-on in multiple aspects of the job, not only to demonstrate your skills in a practical way but able to remove roadblock you encounter effectively and efficiently.

If you are working in Information Technology like I do, your day-to-day responsibilities change depending on which phase of software development life cycle you’re at. In early phase of software development life cycle you need to work effectively with multiple stakeholders but in order to do that you need to be 1) knowledgeable about product/market fit 2) opinionated about what needs to be built 3) be able to justify your opinion.

If you are working with developers you need to speak their language and be able to understand what they’re saying and what are the implications of their proposal’s for the product will be. Are you able to understand and verify what is said? The same is true when you’re working with designers. When I first started, I worked with a designer who would get on implementing her ideas and I always justified that approach by thinking she’s the expert in her field and I should trust that judgment. I didn’t know about principles of user experience design nor did I about the importance of building customer persona before jumping right in to designing stuff. Now at least I can have an effective  discussion with UI/UX designer and ask questions on why the interface needs to be the way s/he emphasizes to be.

When time is short and you need to get a product released in a tight deadline, there are so many little things to do. It’s so much more efficient to take on these tasks and free up experts (designers, developers) time to do the heavy lifting. Can you jump in as the copy-writer to change that campaign copy for the last time before it goes out, do you have some Photoshop skills tweak the layout, and write the code for the script to get the data you really want but Business Intelligence team doesn’t have time to do it now?

All this hands-on experience becomes invaluable if you want to build your own business.  Do you have what it takes to get to that first MVP?

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