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What documentation, skills & tasks should a new (Technical) Product Manager concentrate on learning first to effectively do their job?

I have read this Wikipedia article, and it didn't answer my question. It tells you about product management, not how to learn it and what skills are the most important to learn.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Tob, Mark Phillips Sep 16 '15 at 1:35

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This wikipedia article is not sufficient? You should be more specific in the question, in order to get more specific answers. – yegor256 Apr 3 '11 at 10:17
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    Not sure what the connection between Product Management and Project Management is: can you clarify the appropriateness of this question for a Project Management source, please? – Iain9688 Apr 3 '11 at 10:50
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    No, the wikipedia article is not sufficient. It tells you about product management, not how to learn it and what is most important to learn. The same reason that just pointing to man pages isn't an effective way to teach someone completely new to UNIX. – Dan McGrath Apr 3 '11 at 10:52
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    @Iain9688, I checked for questions on meta before I asked. If you look, you will find the exact question you just asked: meta.pm.stackexchange.com/questions/7/… – Dan McGrath Apr 3 '11 at 10:54
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this site if for Project Management, not Product Management. The skills sets are very different. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Jun 8 '15 at 22:16
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As far as my recommendation would go, it would be that learn from some of the best product managers out there. Read their blogs and see how they manage their products. Getting Real and Rework are excellent product management books from 37Signals. Getting real has an online version which is free.

http://gettingreal.37signals.com/

Besides read guys like Steve Yegge who is a good product manager:

http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2006/05/not-managing-software-developers.html

http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2008/08/business-requirements-are-bullshit.html

Steve is a technical product manager and has many other posts on product management that give you insights into good product management.

Joel Spolsky has an excellent blog and books where is he fairly open about decisions that he took while managing his products at Fog Creek.

Here is one of his books which should give you some good insights into product management:

http://www.readershideout.com/Book/Show/50

His blog Joel on Software also has some nice articles on product management ranging from pricing products, how to decide if a feature makes it into the product etc.

The best way to learn product management is from product managers like Joel, 37Signals, Steve Yegge and product management blogs like How to be a good product manager:

http://www.goodproductmanager.com/

All of these links should get you started and if you “crawl” through the references that the above books and blogs should provide you should bump into other good product managers and pick up some serious product management advice. The information is based on real life products and the experiences their managers had instead of the Wikipedia page. I am hoping this is what you were looking for.

Happy reading and do let us know how it goes.

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As a Technical Product Manager, I find that I can frequently apply Project Management skills and techniques to my job. However, Product Management varies greatly from one company to another. At my company the PM performs the role of a technical resource, project manager and as the lead on continual improvement for a product once it is out the door.

In this case nearly 100% of the skill set I need is Technical/IT or Project Management techniques.

Please let us know what skills you've found useful since you first posted this. Are you finding Project Management skills valuable?

  • 1) Time Management, 2) Task Prioritization, 3) Cat Herding, 4) Customer relationship related-skills and 5) Domain Knowledge. Those are the top 5 skills I have found most valuable in my first 6 months of product management. We have a dedicated project manager, so that helps out a bit. – Dan McGrath Dec 28 '11 at 4:07
  • Cat herding is right! Having a firm grasp of Project Management principles has been a great help to me as a Product Manager. This book[amazon.com/Project-Management-Demystified-Sid-Kemp/dp/… helped me a lot with that. – Elliot Jan 27 '12 at 22:06
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Dan, also being a newbie to Product Management, let me know if you find some really useful sites/materials. I just wanted to add a few blogs to the list for you that I have found useful...

  • Obviously, Pragmatic Marketing is probably the accepted standard location to start with for Product Management. I've been through their Practical Product Management and Requirements that Work seminars and they were very helpful. They also have a lot of useful articles and postings on their website.
  • Eric Krock has a blog over at Voximate that has a lot of good material on it.
  • Scott Sehlhorst has a blog on Tyner Blain that is really good.
  • Of course, there is also the Cranky Product Manager.
  • Roman Pichler also has a great blog as well as a good book on Agile Product Management.

Best of luck!

P.S. I would have included more links but apparently I'm still too much of a newbie here and am only allowed 2 hyperlinks. :( The ones I didn't link should be easy enough to find by name.

  • As soon as a get another split second of free time, I will do just that. First lesson of Product Management: 'What's free time?' – Dan McGrath Nov 17 '11 at 18:55
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I'm doing the product management at ]project-open[. It's open-source product management, but we compete mainly with closed-source tools, so the difference should not be too big. Here are my 5 cents:

  • Learn about Marketing: You now need to define where the "project" should be heading, not some customer type. Learn about strategic marketing, segments, surveys, focus groups etc.
  • Learn to speak and think like your potential customers. You need to understand their decision process and what's important for them.
  • Learn about public speaking: Visit loads of conferences and preset bits and pieces in order to involve your target group in discussions.
  • Learn to talk to your sales guys: They know what their customers want. But don't believe them, just listen :-)
  • Learn about release processes: Many people will get angry at once if there are bugs in the product...
  • Learn about localization and internationalization: Software companies usually earn more than half of their money outside the US
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Here are two online courses on Managing Web projects you might find helpful:

  1. eclasses.org: "Web Project Management" for anyone managing on Web or digital projects.
  2. WebProfessionals.org: "Web Project Management Essentials geared more to the small designer/agency.
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First of all, I think that this question is irrelevant to project management. Second, I think that a technical product manager is a specialist in the product under development. Thus, in order to be good at this position one should learn as much as possible about the product you're developing/managing.

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    I rather agree with this meta post that product development is similar and should be allowed: meta.pm.stackexchange.com/questions/7/… But I won't down-vote :) – ashes999 Apr 4 '11 at 19:32
  • being a moderator, if you disagree with the answer in the above meta question, why have you not stated your view on it? – Dan McGrath Apr 4 '11 at 20:53
  • @Dan you're right, I missed that question in meta. Now it has my opinion explained. – yegor256 Apr 6 '11 at 11:48

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