At Edmentum, the Product Management department is made up of product managers, product analysts, and a release manager. All of us came to product management from different backgrounds, but most of us can’t imagine doing anything else. The biggest reason for that feeling, in my experience, is the unique set of skills and talents it takes to be successful here. Here are the top three skills that we focus on as a team. If these sound like you, we should talk!
Crafting a Compelling Story (aka Strategic Thinking)
In product management, we’re responsible for the product strategy. That means starting with data from a wide variety of inputs (customer requests, competitive intelligence, third party market data, financial performance & sales data, and corporate strategic objectives) and making that data tell the beginning and middle of an interesting story. Then you craft a product vision & roadmap that logically and compellingly finishes the story (spoiler alert: in the end, Edmentum and schools benefit). And finally, you become a master storyteller in order to sell that vision to the rest of the organization in order to get it funded, built, and launched. That is challenging work, but it is a blast!
Seeing the Big Picture (aka Business Acumen)
In order to get your product vision funded, built, and launched, you need a healthy dose of business acumen. That, and because you end up working with every group in the company. You have to tell your story to the management team to convince them to fund it, then make sure that the Software and Curriculum departments know how to build a product that fits your vision, then help the finance and marketing teams understand the vision so that we can launch the product. And don’t forget to include the support, service, and sales organizations so that the product comes to life for our customers. Every single one of those audiences needs a slightly different version of your story – they care about different details, and they use different language.
One of the things I love most about my job is the fact that I can walk through any of our offices or head out into the field and I know most of the employees I encounter by name. That’s because product management touches and works with every group in the company.
Getting to Winning (aka Negotiation)
No matter how good your story is, not everyone will get it the first time. In order to be successful as a product manager, not only do you have to understand how hundreds of people come together to make a business run, you also have to see the world (and, more importantly, your product) through each of their eyes. This allows you to work effectively with them towards a common goal: product success.
When you’re talking to Marketing about collateral for an upcoming product launch, you have to know how their process works and the kind of information they need to be effective. When you’re talking to the Curriculum department about a course refresh, you have to understand their day-to-day life enough to know how hard your request is. And when you’re talking to the CFO about a new pricing policy, you better understand how the pricing you’re proposing will impact the company’s bottom line. That’s the way that you craft actions and initiatives that benefit your product and everyone involved.
Members of the product management team spend a majority of their time interacting with other employees to figure out ways they can make their product more successful. That requires a LOT of great negotiation skill.
Everyone on the product management team, without exception, loves their job. If you want to learn more about why, give us a call!