Over the past several years, my career and learning path has dove deeper into leadership strategy and product marketing. As with many organizations, the excitement of machine learning, AI, and rapid prototyping has found a home in our team as we research, learn, test… and then either succeed or fail… then start all over again! I recently had a chance to sit down with product team leads from a few different organizations and talk about ideas, trends, and how teams were keeping up.
One interesting disagreement in the room was how deep a product team’s understanding of their technical should be and why. Given my technical background, I’m sure you can already guess my opinion, but it felt important to lay it all out there.
I believe that one of the key areas where product managers must excel is in their understanding of the technical domain of their product. In this blog post, we will explore why it is important for product managers to understand the technical domain of their product and why positioning themselves as lifelong learners is critical to their success.
Understanding the Technical Domain
Product managers are responsible for creating and executing the product strategy, defining the product roadmap, and ensuring that the product meets the needs of the target market. To do this effectively, product managers must have a deep understanding of the technical domain of their product.
Understanding the technical domain means having a working knowledge of the technology and engineering principles that underpin the product. This includes understanding the underlying architecture, the technologies used, and the technical trade-offs that must be made when designing and developing the product.
Without this understanding, product managers will struggle to communicate effectively with their engineering and design teams, make informed decisions about the product roadmap (specifically, prioritizing technical improvements over product features, when necessary), and evaluate the technical feasibility of new features and functionality.
Benefits of Understanding the Technical Domain
There are several benefits to product managers who have a strong understanding of the technical domain of their product. Here are a few of the most significant:
Better Communication with Engineering Teams
When product managers have a solid understanding of the technical domain, they are better able to communicate effectively with their engineering teams. They can speak the same language as the engineers, understand their challenges and constraints, and collaborate more effectively to deliver high-quality products.
Improved Product Roadmap
Product managers who understand the technical domain are better able to evaluate the technical feasibility of new features and functionality. This allows them to make more informed decisions about the product roadmap and ensure that new features align with the product vision and strategy.
Product managers who have a solid understanding of the technical domain are better equipped to make informed decisions about the product. They can evaluate technical trade-offs, assess the impact of new features on the product architecture, and weigh the costs and benefits of different technical approaches.
Positioning Yourself as a Lifelong Learner
So how does a product manager brush up on those technical skills? Continue to engage as a lifelong learner!
The field of product management is constantly evolving, with new technologies, tools, and methodologies emerging all the time.
Product managers who position themselves as lifelong learners are better equipped to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the field, including technical capabilities. They can bring new ideas and approaches to their work, stay ahead of the competition, and continue to grow and develop professionally.
In conclusion, understanding the technical domain of your product is critical to the success of product managers. It enables effective communication with engineering teams, improves the product roadmap, and supports better decision-making.
Positioning yourself as a lifelong learner is also critical to success in this field, allowing you to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments and continue to grow and develop professionally.
To learn more about the importance of understanding the technical domain and positioning yourself as a lifelong learner, check out the following resources:
- “5 Technical Skills Product Managers Should Have” by Michael Shashoua (https://www.codecademy.com/resources/blog/technical-skills-for-product-managers/)
- “Product Manager Technical Skills: Important Tech Topics To Know (video)” by Alex Rechevskiy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUQ08X9le08)
- “Becoming a Product Manager without a technical background” by Alessandro Mannino (https://medium.com/productschool/becoming-a-product-manager-without-technical-background-alessandro-mannino-92dc3342fda5)
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