To be a profitable company, you need product managers who are on top of trends and have the best skills. The right kind of training can help polish skills and create the right kind of product managers.
Effective product management courses provide the technical knowledge that product managers need to know. Product managers should be able to talk about some key technical topics and be aware of product management rules. The courses they take should give them that knowledge. Product managers should understand technology because:
- It lets you be better at knowing what’s feasible and what’s not;
- It allows you to be more involved in the planning, sizing and task breakdown discussions;
- You get another internal “language” that you can speak and translate; and
- It gives you some common ground with which to build a trusted, respectful relationship with your engineering teams.
We live in a connected world and knowing how those connections are created, what they mean and how they work helps managers to be more informed. In this digital arena where apps and specially made helpdesk software are helping small and big businesses do everything, not being informed can be a very bad thing.
What Technology Should Courses Include?
While some technology is important in some businesses and different technologies are important in other businesses, some technologies should be part of every good product management course because they apply to all businesses.
All product managers should at least understand the following technologies:
Databases — The Internet operates almost entirely by some form of database. For example, social media or Netflix wouldn’t work if they didn’t have some form of database running on their backend. In some cases, the database is the actual product. For others, the database gives the user way to search or find connections in addition to the product itself. A good product manager should know what a database is, how it’s used and the differences relational and nonrelational databases. You want a course that can tell you how to know what NoSQL is and what MS SQL is and some basic cases for each.
HTML and CSS — Databases might be on the back of a technology product, but HTML and CSS are on the front. These are the most common form of web pages on the Internet. A good product manager course will teach you how to create a basic page with HTML tags and styling that page through the application of basic CSS styles. HTML and CSS can help you create interactive mockups or wireframes of your product or for testing out ideas for layout and interaction.
Common Programming Languages — Although product managers do not need to know how to write code, they do need to be able to talk about the three most common programming languages in use today — Objective C for iOS and Mac development, CSharp (“C-Sharp”) for Windows-based development, and Java for cross-platform or Android development. You want courses that help you figure out these programming languages. Knowing the language that your development teams employ will give you credibility when you refer to it correctly.
Common Scripting Languages — Even though developers know the difference between scripting languages and coding languages, product managers do not. Your product manager course should explain the differences. Common scripting languages that you’ll encounter include PHP (Pre-Hypertext Processor), Ruby (on Rails), Perl, Python, and PowerShell. You want to determine what these are and which languages your team uses to keep you from putting your foot in your mouth.
Version Control Systems — Most development team puts in some form of version control to their code. You should understand why version control systems are used. If something breaks, you will be able to revert to previous versions. Knowing which one your teams are using helps you understand common and expected technical practices. Good product management courses will cover these systems thoroughly.
The point of taking the product management courses is to become a more effective manager. Therefore, you should be curious and want to learn new things. You should keep an open mind about what technology you need to know. Look for courses that will give you the technological background you expect.