In 2016 while working as a software developer intern at SAP Labs Waterloo, my manager introduced me to Agile Methodologies and Product Management. When I first heard of it, I was very skeptical and wanted to learn more about software development. A few months into the team, I realized that Software Development is fun, but there are more challenges and decision-making opportunities as a Product Manager. Soon after my internship, a friend and I started Hyfer Technologies, and my only focus was to help clients build good digital products. I wanted to learn about product management and show how software developers make the best product managers. I will explain why my assumptions were wrong, and that product management has many faces.
As a student of Computer Science, I had never planned to pick up product management as a career. I have always enjoyed writing code, and the satisfaction of fixing an error to produce the expected output still fascinates me. However, when I started working as a product manager, I realized that I had the power to set up the logic. In this blog, I want to outline the top three reasons you should pick up or explore Product Management as a career.
1: Business Decisions
When I worked as a developer, I had the power to write my program in a manner that I saw fit for the company. I was allowed to pick the tech stack I was comfortable with and implement the code that felt right. But there was one thing missing. I was not involved in the business decisions made by the company. As a young developer, I wasn't confident enough to speak up during my retrospective meetings. When I put my suggestions, they got shut down as they did not meet the overall vision/mission of the company. I was hungry to learn more about the company's mission and vision. But when I started working as a Product Manager, I had the opportunity to work closely with the business owners and help identify the mission and vision.
My Tip: As a software developer, try to involve yourself with the product team to understand the direction of the product. Understanding the business will help you build better products.
Sometimes I feel like I have too much information and number in my head. If you enjoy reading and writing, you will enjoy the role of a product manager. While working with Kynza, I read about how other FinTech companies are building their product. I get to read about the problems they are trying to solve, understand their users, and read about design patterns they are using in their companies. Research is key to building strong and viable products. If you enjoy reading and enjoy learning facts, then product management is something you will enjoy. When working as a software developer, I did not have time to learn things outside technology. Most of my readings were on how to write solid and bug-free code. But as a product manager, my research varies from UI/UX patterns, human behaviour, technology and their limitations, to name a few.
- When reading, try to understand the crucial stats you should remember.
- Make mindmaps to recognize your research.
- Remember, recognition is faster than recall.
3: Work close to technology
Of course, I kept the best reason for last. If you are a software developer and looking to move into product management, you will not miss software development. Your daily role will not involve opening your IDE and writing code, but it will have you wish you did. Building good products will be easy for you if you have a technical background. Of course, my perspective is a bit biased as I come from a technical background. Many great product managers come from a non-technical background and can build great products. If you want to change your role but are passionate about technology, then the product manager role is your next best option.
My Tip: Keep in touch with software development. It will help you understand its strengths and limitations. Also, tap into your experience as a software developer, work closely with the development teams and understand their perspectives.
Product management is the fine line between a developer and a business analyst, your experience from your past will help you vastly. The top reasons to pick up product management are:
- Business Decisions: As a product manager, you have more room to make business decisions. You are regularly involved in meetings that require you to think about what is suitable for the product.
- Research: You will learn a lot of things daily. You will learn about human psychology, habits, UI/UX, and more on the job every day.
- Close to Technology: Product managers work closely with developers and help them understand the technical requirements. If you want to move into tech or stay close to tech, this is the most suitable role.