What Makes A Good Product Development Manager?

In my limited experience, I have found three different characteristics which are absolutely necessary to become a rockstar Product Development Manager.  Here are the three characteristics:

Innovative & Detail-Oriented
Anyone can manage a team of engineers, or ask for the lowest cost with these benefits.  The best product managers are the ones who can take a look at a prototype (or better yet, a concept) and quickly analyze different things they could do to take cost out while maintaining the benefits of the product, or find ways to enhance the benefits for the same cost.  A good product manager will notice improvement opportunities in the first 5 minutes that a marketing guy will not notice after seeing the product a few dozen times.

Customer-First Attitude
While it is very important for Product Managers to worry about best-cost, innovations, and end-prices, maintaining a customer-first attitude is crucial.  For example, no one cares if you add additional features for free if the end-user would never actually benefit from them.  Also, if you take out one feature, in the name of cost-reduction, that was crucial for your end-user, your product will likely fail against competitors offering that same feature.  By constantly placing yourself in your customer’s shoes, a product manager can always stay centered on the one person their product has to impress:  The customer.

Learn To Speak “Engineer” and “Marketing”
In most companies, the product manager is the link between the engineers and the marketing departments.  The marketing department will always want things faster, cheaper and better to make more money sooner.  The engineering department will always want more time and money to get things done right.  As a product manager, if you can become fluent in knowing your audience and what they care about, you will be 100% more effective at delivering a product on-time and on-cost.  Your team’s will get along better, your communication will improve, and everybody will be driving towards the same end-goals

Those are the first three characteristics I would suggest when looking for an outstanding product manager.  I hope that helps.  Good luck out there!

Todd Hagopian

Please follow the conversation at quora.com:  http://www.quora.com/What-makes-a-good-Product-Manager/answer/Todd-Hagopian

About Todd Hagopian (@ToddHagopian)

Todd Hagopian received his BA from Eastern Michigan University with a major in Political Science. After graduation, he worked as a Financial Advisor and a Bank Manager before returning to school. He attended Michigan State University, where he completed an MBA with a double-major in Finance and Marketing. Todd is now a Senior Product Development Manager for a Fortune 500 company. He frequently writes about business issues, social media strategy, and political issues that he finds important. Enjoy the blog!

Posted on September 23, 2011, in Business Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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