Being a product manager is a coveted job opportunity among freshly minted graduates and those looking to change careers. And why not? Glassdoor listed it among the top five jobs in the United States for 2020.
Why is the product manager role so hot? This career offers high-job satisfaction, compensation, and job growth.
The best part is that while salaries in this space start at around $60,000 per year, they can skyrocket to nearly $200,000 per year, depending on location, experience, expertise, and scarcity of skill, reports Glassdoor.
Imagine you’re planning a holiday to a beautiful, yet remote location. You’ve reached the nearest city, and you’re ready to make your way to your final destination. Then, you realize that you don’t have the map to get there. And as luck would have it, GPS isn’t working, either.
That’s exactly how it feels if you’re leading a product development project without a product requirement document (PRD).
A PRD is, essentially, a laundry list of product development specifications—including what has to be built, who it’s for, its purpose, and the value it brings to its end-users. It provides a vision of what the final product should accomplish and details all the features and functionalities that will be required to meet those goals.
The clearer a PRD, the better the chances of the final product achieving its desired outcomes. An extremely well-defined PRD may even include preliminary sketches of what the final product may look like, and how its end-users may interact with its functionalities.
The primary advantages of a PRD are that it provides immense clarity to all relevant stakeholders (internal as well as external), ensures the realization of specified goals, and maximizes the chances of everyone being satisfied with the final output.
Not only will you be able to get a head start on the full Growth Product Manager Nanodegree program, available in June, but taking this course will unlock 30% off the price of the full Nanodegree. All progress in this course can be applied towards graduation from the full Growth Product Manager Nanodegree program.
Product managers face a common challenge in the nascent stages of creating a product: finding the ideal methodology. While there’s a wide assortment of methodologies to choose from, each one has its own principles, rules, practices, processes, and pros and cons. And, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines product management methodology as a “framework that is used to structure, plan, and control the process of developing an information system.”
Think of these methodologies as a series of steps that a product manager needs to execute (with the help of a team, of course ) to design, develop, and test a product toward its successful launch/ release. While it shares a certain degree of overlap with project management, product management is restricted to managing the life cycles of products only – from their birth (ideation/ design phase) to their distribution (market launch/ release).
However, with so many product management methodologies to choose from, how do you cherry-pick the best one for your product? The short answer is — it depends. The right methodology depends entirely on the variables you’re working with – primarily your timelines, flexibility, and budget.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there’s also not just one approach that’ll fit the bill. You may find that a combination of methodologies, such as Agile + Waterfall, may be right for your team.
As Alex King, Product Manager Nanodegree program instructor and Product Manager at Uber, states, the Product Manager role entails high responsibility and reward.
“Product Managers play a critical role in making sure that the right product gets built. This starts by deeply understanding your users and the problems that you are solving for, then working with a number of different teams to identify and build a solution. After launching a product, it’s an amazing feeling when you see people using your product in the real world.” This Nanodegree program is great for those looking to break into the Product Management space, and has no technical prerequisites, so it’s accessible to learners from a variety of backgrounds. Once you learn the foundational skills required in Product Management, you will be equipped to further specialize your skillset with the AI Product Manager Nanodegree program, as well as the Growth and Data Product Manager Nanodegree programs coming soon.
Product Managers Drive Company and Customer Value
Let’s go through a few examples of why Product Managers are so valuable to companies. Have you heard of ICQ? Most likely not. However, most of you probably have used or at least heard of AOL’s Instant Messenger. ICQ was an early messenger tool similar to AOL’s Instant Messenger, but unlike Instant Messenger, ICQ had too many features that struggled to deliver customer value; as a result, it never took off because it became too overwhelming and inadequate for users. Now, let’s examine an example that is a little more recent. When Apple released its first version of the iPod in 2001, Microsoft released a competitive offering five years later called Microsoft Zune. However, unlike Apple’s iPod, Microsoft’s Zune failed to deliver any additional value to listeners and was late to the market, resulting in listeners sticking with Apple’s iPod instead of switching over to Microsoft’s Zune, causing Microsoft to discontinue production of the Zune product after a few years.
So what distinguishes exciting ideas from industry-changing innovations? A Product Manager. Product Managers make visions a reality by tactfully blending insight-driven strategy with influential execution. Whether it’s adding a feature that enhances customer delight for an existing product, such as in AOL’s Instant Messenger, or a completely new offering into the market, such as Apple’s iPod, Product Managers serve as the bridge between what problems a company spends their resources solving and the value that gets delivered to the company’s customers.
Moreover, with the rise of digitization in the past few decades, all companies, including ones that were previously primarily selling physical products, such as Nike, Procter & Gamble, and Lego, now need Product Managers that can guide the development of software products. As a McKinsey article states, Product Managers are critical for companies in today’s digital era, connecting software-engineering teams to the rest of the organization, and ensuring resources spent internally create extraordinary customer value externally. Such an influential role requires a dynamic set of skills, including mastery of both soft skills, such as influencing without authority, and hard skills, such as distilling customer and market-based insights into a product spec. Being able to apply this breadth of skills throughout the product development lifecycle is what allows impactful products to be delivered into the market at the right time with the right features.
There is a Product Management skill gap in the market due to a lack of industry-relevant programs that focus on both the soft and hard skills
However, this dynamic set of skills that set Product Managers apart are a rare breed in the workforce, especially in countries like Australia and India. The gap of skilled Product Managers in the workforce can be attributed to the lack of practical, industry-relevant training. McKinsey claims the maturity of a Product Manager can be measured across six pillars, and that the best way to upskill in these pillars is through working on real-world projects with regular coaching and feedback. In other words, Product Managers need to have a good sense of business, tech, and design, and be capable of seeing synergistic opportunities and switching contexts between those three domains constantly. However, there are very few Product Management training programs available in the market that enable synergistic problem solving across the business, tech, and design domains, and there are even fewer that teach the hard and soft skills needed to work effectively at the intersection of these three spheres.
The projects in the Product Manager Nanodegree program will prepare you to lead a cross-functional team in your organization, and act as the CEO and general manager of a mini-startup within your company.
Students who enroll in the Product Manager Nanodegree program will learn to define product strategy and KPIs based on market analysis, pitch a product vision to get stakeholder buy-in, and design a user-centered prototype that adheres to engineering constraints. Then, you will develop an execution timeline that handles competing priorities, communicate a product roadmap that builds consensus amongst internal stakeholders, and create a comprehensive go-to-market plan based on product KPIs. Finally, you will build tests to enhance product features based on market data. Projects in this Nanodegree program include:
Project 1: Pitch a Product Vision
Perform market research to identify target users and size the market opportunity for a new product. Compile your analysis into a pitch deck, and present the vision of your product to business stakeholders.
Project 2: Run a Design Sprint
Take a product opportunity and explore potential solutions. Narrow down ideas to the most compelling one, create a storyboard and prototype, conduct user research, refine ideas, and incorporate findings into a final product spec.
Project 3: Manage the Product Development Process
Balance competing priorities, relationships, and expectations to make sure your product will be built and launched within a given timeline.
Project 4: Deliver a Product to Market
Create a pre-launch process, including identification of launch risks and mitigations. Develop a marketing and pricing strategy, and create collateral to prepare the Sales and Customer Support teams to evangelize the product. Use customer feedback to design an A/B test for a new product feature.
Collaborating with Top Product Management Professionals
To develop this program’s world-class curriculum, we collaborated with professionals from companies including Cornerstone OnDemand, Lyft, and Microsoft. Each of these collaborators contributed guidance and feedback to focus the program on the most in-demand skills. Also, each of the instructors in the program has extensive professional experience as Product Managers in technology. Below is a list of contributors to the program.
This program will teach you both the hard skills of leading product development, and the soft skills of sourcing user feedback and influencing cross-functional teams. Udacity’s Product Manager Nanodegree program allows learners to develop experience across the business, design, and tech domains through hands-on, industry-relevant projects and mentor feedback. Enroll today to begin your career in Product Management!
Simply put, no business today, whether a local hobby store or a multinational tech giant, can survive without a well-structured, long-term digital marketing strategy. A majority of said strategy revolves around social media marketing. Because like it or not, every business needs a social media presence to survive and grow in the modern-day economy. So, it’s a no-brainer that social media marketing jobs are among the hottest opportunities in the market right now.
But what you really need to know is that with everyone and their mums being on social media, you’re already inherently primed to take up a job in the field. And from coordinators who drive brand awareness and handle the occasional customer meltdown to aggressive managers who drive customer acquisition and retention goals, there’s a role for everyone. What’s more, the 2020 Tech, Digital Marketing & Creative Salary Guide by Mondo, an Addison Group staffing agency focused on niche IT and digital marketing talent, reveals that chief marketing officers will be among the highest paid professionals this year.
Do you really need any more reason to get going?
“Show me the money!”
Hey. It isn’t just Cuba Gooding Jr. who thinks like that. Who doesn’t? Here’s a lowdown of how the money rolls in social media marketing right now.