Can you help with managing a project?.
We all know that myths exist. And no, not the tales you had to read in your mandatory Literature classes but myths about one person or another. Or one title or another.
When I just started out I did not know anything about the profession. Gosh, I did not even know that I was doing the job! No wonder people working with me were confused and could ask some ridiculous things about what I do and how.
I’ve collected these misconceptions from the web mostly, but many of them are anecdotal and happen to me at least once.
1. Product Manager? It’s the same as Project Manager.
Of course, it is. I don’t even know why we are here in the first place.
And this is where you are not even going to argue. I hear that so often that I don’t know what to say. Yes, as a Product Manager you do have a project management skill, but it’s an entirely different field.
Or, well, to be honest, the field that helps you do the work better.
In well-established companies, Product Manager and Project Manager usually work very closely together because they have a similar goal — finishing a project and get the product to the market.
The major difference is:
- No, Project Manager doesn’t care about UX and UI, functions, features, interviews and Q&A problems.
- Yes, Product Managers care about the budget, but only to the extent which is relevant to the product, not the project itself.
- No, Project Manager don’t do any marketing research or anything
- Yes, Product Manager has to keep everything on track, and yes, she needs to see a bigger picture.
Some people say the responsibilities are similar. Or, “You are the Product Manager. Can’t you be a Project Manager?” and vice versa.
Well, the answer yes and no.
It’s like answering “You are a neurologist. Can’t you be a surgeon?”
Of course, you can! But you need a particular skill for this, which you can learn. However, you would rather avoid that and dedicate yourself to studying brains. It doesn’t make you less neurologist if you don’t perform any surgeries, right?
I was an unlucky one who had to mix both responsibilities at the very beginning. I cannot say that’s impossible to deal. It’s just usually too much pressure and you would appreciate some help after all.
2. You need to be a “tech” person or a degree in Information Technology
Well, you never know where your degree in Information Technology will help you, but Product Management is not only about development.
You are a part of the process, and everyone needs you to know the nitty-gritty of the platform your product is built or developed. But you don’t need to be a developer yourself.
You have to be willing to get “techy” if you manage mobile apps or any software. But for physical products or any other products, your technical background doesn’t make any difference.
I had this thought myself. I thought that if I have a BA, nobody would ever take me seriously, especially in IT. Guess what? Nobody even asks me about my degree when we work together.
If you are willing to learn, what can stop you?
3. You can decide what features to have or what product to develop. You are an idea guy.
It may be somewhat true for startups, but generally is the nicest misconception I have ever heard.
It’s like your job is full of creative endeavors and you are sparkling like lightning producing one or another idea for a feature or an app. Or anything else.
If you have this thought and you want to get into product management, you should stop yourself now.
It’s not true. Not valid from the very beginning to the very end.
If I had to explain what’s Product Manager’s the most important responsibility, I would say “metrics.” It’s true. And because it’s the only way to stop bombarding everyone with ideas and start doing your job.
As Product Manager your primary task is to make a product successful and make sure that marketing is targeting the right people, developers create the right features and designers make these features natural and easy-to-use for customers.
Your ideas? Yeah, cool, but next time.
4. A roadmap is just a list of features and deadlines
Yeah, right. Let’s all go home. Nothing to do here.
Although a roadmap may look like a fancy thing with a list of features and deadlines, it’s usually more than that.
A roadmap is your backbone, the spine of your project and one of the things helping you be on track with those fantastic ideas you come up every day as Product Manager (kidding).
Roadmaps reflect the strategy, the very core of the product, outline the potential possibilities for the further development and is your guide through the tough times when you are not sure whether you are going in the right direction or not.
You need this as teachers need their teaching materials or as doctors need pills and drugs to treat their patients.
You can even name a roadmap as your personal Bible for this or that project, depending on what you are working.
And stop adding more brilliant ideas to your roadmap! It’s ridiculous (just kidding again. You will have no time for this anyway).
5. You are the CEO of the product
And this one is a bit controversial, but I leave it as a misconception anyway.
Yes, you have your roadmap as Bible for your product. Yes, you in charge of making it work. Yes, you need to make the product successful and customers happy. But you are not the boss.
You don’t hire or fire people who work on the product or project. You don’t even choose them from the available staff.
Funnily enough, you are on the same level as they are. But you have more responsibilities. And a roadmap. And you are Project Manager. And lots of ideas. And technical background. That all should help you, right?
That happens. But, you are the balance. You are the fluid, or if you wish, you are the substance that makes the joints move. Without you, they are just two rusty bones with no purpose at all.
Are you responsible for your decisions? Yes, you are.
Can you make any strategical adjustments or decision? Oh, hell, yeah, you must.
But you are not CEO. And will never be. You need to be flexible and stand aside from any hierarchy. And being CEO means being on top.
Which is not going to help you at all.
There are plenty of other miscinceptions about Product Managers and Product Management. Have you ever encountered any of them and what did you do?
Let’s share some wisdom and be smarter together!