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The Complete Guide to Tech Product Management

Guide to product management

The Complete Guide to Tech Product Management In Brief

Product Management is in increasing demand especially in the Tech world. This is due to its unique value that this role brings to the business where it’s implied. This value lies in the link that this role makes between the internal assets and external needs and realities of the market. This post introduces The Complete Guide to Tech Product Management by answering the three basic questions of What, Why and how Product Management is practiced.

On the What side, Product Managers are considered as the CEOs of the product. They are the first responsible for its success or failure.

On the Why side, Product Managers play a key role of connecting very different stakeholders, whether they are internal or external, in the sole aim of guaranteeing a maximum likelihood of success for the product.

On the How side, Product Managers need to have a widely versatile range of soft and technical skills to be able to communicate with very different players. They also need to have an entrepreneurial spirit encompassing leadership, creativity and technicity.

The “What” of Product Management

The what

Let’s start by the What among The Complete Guide to Tech Product Management.

Even if Product Management can exist in all industries, the focus of this content is the Tech industry.

A Product Manager is defined as the CEO of the product. Even if this definition is raising some debates, it nonetheless has the merit of providing the true idea of the versatility and largeness of this key role. This is especially true in the Tech world.

Indeed, the Product Management activity spans from product development and business justification to pricing and marketing, passing by planning and testing. All these activities are under the umbrella of Product Managers aim at one single and major goal that is: Product Success.

Now what is meant by product success can depend on the initial goal of the product. This goal is derived often from the vision and objectives established by executives. Even if the Product Manager participates in the establishment of this vision, he’s not the sole generator of it.

The goals behind the product

The initial goal behind the product can be financial, marketer or operational. 

  • The financial goal is obvious, it’s when the product builder is aiming at creating value and monetizing it through the built product. 
  • The marketer’s goal is to use the product as a means for gaining awareness and visibility for any reason behind that can be whether for profit, for activism or something else.
  • The operational goal is seen when the product builder aims at simplifying a process using the product. Products built internally by companies for optimizing their operations belong to this category.

Hence, the Product Manager is the first and most responsible for the success of the built product from whatever perspective the success is defined.

It may be counterintuitive, but the Product Manager is also responsible for the obsolescence or End of Life (EoL) of products. This is a crucial role since it can save tremendous amounts of time and effort when executed efficiently. Obsolescence planning includes almost all the above-mentioned steps that are involved in the creation of a new product.

Deeper dive into the PM role

From a slightly deeper perspective, a Product Manager’s role is to define what product to build, why to build it, when and how to build it and promote it, for which customers, how to launch it, how to maintain it and when to kill it. 

In other words, a Product Manager is a problem solver through the creation of the appropriate product for the dedicated customers.

Why data skills are important for PMs

Product Management with Data Science belong to the most well-paid roles in the Tech world. According to a study published by Hired, the average annual salary in the US for a Product Manager is $129k and it’s growing on average by 2.8% per year.

Quantitative research on keyword analyzing tools and Google trends show the high popularity of the Product Management field. In fact, Product management keyword is searched 33k times in the US and more than 18k times in India with a global monthly search volume estimated at 100k. Google trends show the steady increase in popularity of Product Management. The study shows its popularity in North America, Asia and particularly India.

A study published by the MIT Management Sloan School shows that 17% of MBA graduates choose Product Management as their career path upon graduation. This choice is the third right after consulting 40%, and finance, 17% as well.

Product Managers have a direct impact on the performance of their companies, they learn highly valuable skills that they can leverage along their careers, and they often have very rich networks with strategically positioned individuals.

The “Why” of Product Management

The why

Now let’s tacke the Why among The Complete Guide to Tech Product Management.

The Tech world is in a continuous and endless evolution. Hundreds of new products are released worldwide every week. In addition, the competition is not local when it comes to Tech and often involves players from all over the globe.

This highly challenging ecosystem creates the visceral need for someone who is constantly up to date regarding both the external and internal statuses of a product. This is the major Why of a product manager.

He is indeed a connector, a compass and a bridge that links the company to the surrounding world.

The need for Product Managers is not recent since it goes back to the great depression and the twenties of the twentieth century. Back then, a 27-year-old marketer felt the big gap between the production teams and the marketing teams and proposed the idea of creating that hybrid position for connecting those two crucial fields. Since then, the big success of this new role made it increasingly popular worldwide among organizations of different natures.

This need is particularly true for Tech companies.

PM scope

From the perspective of role wideness, the closest position to a Product Manager is the CEO. Now why the need for a Product Manager if any company has its own CEO. The answer depends on the considered company: 

  • If the company is of small size or it’s at its early stages, then often the CEO is the Product Manager indeed. 
  • On the other hand, for bigger structures, the need for a Product Manager is vital because: CEOs often do not have enough technical proficiency to communicate efficiently with the product development team. Second, CEOs focus often more on the marketing, sales, and human resources aspects. Third, CEOs naturally need direct reports which is against the principles of Product Management. This latter point is more explained in the “How” section. Finally, with bigger structures with more complex product portfolios, there are often more than one single Product Manager since managing efficiently many products is simply nearly impossible.

The “How” of Product Management

What about the How among The Complete Guide to Tech Product Management.

Product Managers are not managers of people, but they are managers of the product. In fact, they never have direct reports. This is made on purpose since they need to gather honest and objective feedback and ideas from everyone. Naturally, it’s way more realistic to do so with colleagues that you don’t manage directly.

Successful Product Managers are often those that create highly differentiated products that solve efficiently painful issues for a clearly defined profile of customers. What is meant by solving an issue is often making the user of the product gain time and money, feeling a positive emotion, or deleting a negative one when he interacts with the product.

The 2 activities of PMs

Product Managers must deal with two major activities that are: Inbound product management and outbound product management.

  • Inbound product management involves all the activities that the Product Manager executes internally like: Product development, interactions with the internal teams, market intelligence and customer research, competitive intelligence and data analytics.
  • Outbound product management includes marketing, sales, external communications via events, social media, and advertisement, defining and participating in the Go to Market (GtM) strategy.

One major know-how of top Product Managers is listening to the market. This includes First to perfectly know the pains and needs of the customers. Second, the competition out there.


Among the versatile toolbox of Product Managers, if it comes to identify the most important and famous tool, one can state confidently that it’s roadmapping. Roadmapping is the Product Management way of saying planning. It’s about planning the next features and capabilities of the product through time during the couple of next years.

Roadmapping is tied to an inevitable project management framework that is the Agile framework. The Agile methodology refers to the way of managing the product development lifecycle in a flexible and iterative way. Agile advocates primarily to divide the complex development cycle into small chunks that foster continuous feedback gathering from the market.

This is where the intersection between roadmapping and Agile comes into play. Indeed, the roadmapping should be flexible when considered from an agile perspective. In addition, the roadmap should be divided into smaller pieces that can be put in the backlog, or the list of developments to be performed in order to build a given feature, also called an Epic in the Agile language.

PM and software dev

It may be counterintuitive, but the top Product Managers don’t focus on bringing the best ideas to build or enhance a product. Indeed, they focus instead on being animators, listeners, and collectors of the best ideas. They look for ideas whether from internal resources like colleagues and partners, or external resources like customers and even competition.

Top Product Managers do not interfere with the tech choices to be made by the development teams. They focus rather on what problem they want to solve with the new feature to be developed and let the development team choose the best way of implementing it.

Soft skills of PMs

Top Product Managers naturally have an entrepreneurial spirit, they have a wide range of both technical and soft skills and they come from very different domains that may be engineering, marketing or sales. Consequently, Product managers, even the best one, do not necessarily excel in all the skills at the same time. Indeed, they have deep mastery of one or two aspects and know how to deal fairly with the other aspects. They should know on the other hand how to speak the languages of the different stakeholders.

Product Managers need vital soft skills like leadership, curiosity, ethics, sociability and creativity. They should not be afraid of losing and making mistakes because this is their daily routine. They are ready to lose but when they win, they win big. 

Product managers also need vital technical skills like: Analytics, financial knowledge, project management, research and office tools.

The 4 main traits of PMs

Product Managers should have 4 main traits to be successful: the core skills, the emotional intelligence, the company fit and good relationships with the executives.

  • The core competencies are the technical skills that can be taught then practiced and fine-tuned in the field. Those core competencies include: Market research, conducting interviews, surveys and focus groups, in addition to fundamental business knowledge like financial reporting, pricing modeling and business planning.
  • Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness and social awareness. It’s vital for a Product Manager to have healthy and constructive relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Company fit refers to the fact that unfortunately, because of its vast hence sometimes ambiguous role, a Product Manager can’t guarantee that the company that he will part of, will understand his role well and will empower him enough for doing his job correctly.
  • The relationship with the different stakeholders is important for a Product Manager and it’s particularly vital with the C-Suite or executive mre generally.


  6. Steven Haines. “The Product Manager’s Desk Reference.” Published by McGraw Hill. Page 390.
  7. Scott Sehlhorst, Tyner Blain. “Foundation Series: Inbound and Outbound Product Management.” January 18, 2007. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  8. Tarquin Clark, Toolbox. “Which is more important, inbound or outbound product management?” September 12, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2012
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