15 Top Technical Product Manager Skills

Updated on May 25th, 2021
15 Top Technical Product Manager Skills

A product manager is a person responsible for a company's products. They work with teams such as the product team and development team to create an effective product that will sell well in their industry. 

Technical skills are necessary to be a successful product manager because of all the technical aspects involved such as programming languages and data analysis. However, soft skills are also essential because they help them work better with other people on their team. 

In this post, we'll go over 15 top technical skills for product managers and what each skill means.

Let's dive right into it. 

What does a product manager do?

Product managers have many responsibilities.  They are in charge of the product's success and they need to make sure that it develops according to plan. They have responsibilities like developing a roadmap, making decisions on how much time is needed for each phase, conducting research, setting budgets, managing customer relations, and more. 

Product management technical skills

Great product managers possess skills that can be divided into two categories: soft and hard. Soft skills are the interpersonal aspects of a product manager's job, while hard skill is more related to programming languages or data analysis. 

Let's take a look at 15 technical skills product strategists should have:

1. Data analysis skills

A product manager needs to understand the data associated with their product or service. The goal is usually to find patterns and opportunities within that data.

Data analysis skills can be achieved through: 

  • Understanding coding languages like Python, R, SQL, etc.
  • Knowing how to use tools like Excel for statistical analysis.
  • Learning statistics concepts such as linear regression, probability distributions, and more.

Analytics skills are also a must-have for product managers because they help them better understand customer behavior or market trends which will allow them to make better decisions on strategy development in the future. 

Analytics includes an understanding of basic programming (SQL) and advanced analytical techniques (machine learning). It's important that PMs not only know what analytics tools exist but also how to use them, how they can be applied to the business, and what kind of raw data is needed.

2. SQL language knowledge

SQL is a language that allows you to query and manipulate data. SQL skills are useful for product managers because they allow them to get the most out of their analytics software, gain insight into what people want by analyzing customer behavior on websites or in stores, and explore complex datasets when creating new products.

3. A/B testing

A/B testing is a form of market research that compares two versions of a product to see which one performs best.

Product managers often perform A/B tests by using analytics software like Google Analytics or Optimizely, but they can also test things in-person through surveys and focus groups. Product managers need analytical skills for this task because they need to know which version is more effective.

Doing A/B testing is important because it tells product managers what consumers want, which helps them create a better product.

4. Knowledge of Microsoft Excel

Product managers need to know how to analyze big datasets. Excel is a very popular software spreadsheet that can be used for this task, so it’s important for product managers to have some knowledge of Microsoft excel.

Although using Excel might seem like an easy task, it can be difficult to know how to actually use the spreadsheet. Therefore,  product managers might need to take a training course.

Product Managers also use excel for other tasks, like creating graphs or charts and using data for projections to see the product management goals are being reached.  

5. Product roadmap development

Product managers need to be able to prepare a product roadmap for the product development stage. This means that they should have an idea of what their goals are and how the project will progress as well, so it can help them create and manage expectations for everyone involved in the process.

The development of a product roadmap needs to take lots of things into account like timelines, marketing strategies, financial resources, and more. It is important because this tool helps make decisions about where or when something will happen next within the project timeline all while considering other factors such as cost-benefit analyses or risks associated with these decisions.

6. Software development skills

Product managers need to know the basics of software development. This means that they should have the engineering skills needed for developing an app or web services, as well as understanding how these things can work together and what needs to happen in order for them to succeed.

There are many technical aspects of this job such as knowing about data structures, algorithms, security issues, and more. It is important because it helps product managers know what's possible so they can create something amazing with limited resources while avoiding wasted time on tasks that don't matter when building their final product.

7. Knowledge in Agile methodology

Agile is a project management methodology that allows for fast and flexible. It also means more than just architecting an app in the most efficient way possible- it's about how to get things done on time, with limited resources, while keeping the product functional and easy to use.

Product managers should have at least some knowledge of Agile because this methodology has become increasingly popular over the years. In fact, knowing agile can help you land a job as well as make you much more attractive to potential employers. After all, no one wants their product manager to miss deadlines or trying to push through updates that don't work properly.

8. Market research skills

Market research is the task of understanding the target audience and exploring their needs. It's also about finding out what they like, dislike or want as well as how much money they're willing to spend for those products or services.

The Agile methodology requires a product manager to be very customer-centric in order to deliver quality end products that are able to meet user demands. This means PMs have to understand customers on an individual level so they can make sure their requests will be met with each new update from their team. 

Product managers should know how important market research skills are because it often leads directly back into the development process which makes it vital information for any kind of successful project management strategy.

9. Prototyping abilities

A product manager should be able to prototype an idea and show how it will work in order to illustrate the problem, propose a solution, and test the viability of that proposed solution. Prototyping is one way for them to communicate their ideas with stakeholders before moving on into full development mode which can save money by identifying problems early on.

10. Basic knowledge of coding

Basic knowledge of coding can make a product manager's job easier. It doesn't have to be complicated; just knowing the basics such as what are HTML tags for and how CSS works will help them understand what developers need, which helps their teamwork more efficiently.

11. Data structures and algorithms

A good understanding of data structures and algorithms is a must for every product manager. Product managers will need to know how these things work in order to plan features, make design decisions or prioritize tasks.

12. Database management

Product managers are often required to have knowledge of database management systems as they usually play a key role in the product lifecycle from requirements gathering through deployment. You will need skills such as SQL querying and schema design which allow you to store queries across hundreds of servers without losing any data.

13. Product strategy creation skills

Great product managers must have product strategy creation skills such as market research, competitive analysis, and extensive customer outreach. The more they know about the competition or a particular industry niche will give them an edge over competitors.

14. UX, UI, and design abilities

A product manager needs the skills of UX, UI, and design which allows them to create an experience for a digital or physical product. This skillset can also come in handy if they need to share their ideas with engineers who won't be able to visualize it on their own.

15. Marketing understanding

Good product managers need to understand marketing, this includes the basics like branding, positioning, and user experience. It also means understanding how best to reach their target audience with a product they'll love.

Also, the responsibilities of a product manager are to understand the business objectives and customer needs in order to create innovative solutions that will drive profitable growth for the company.

Product manager soft skills

Not only is technical knowledge important, but so are soft skills. These skills are crucial because they help them get work done more effectively.

Let's take a look at some important soft skills PMs should have:

1. Communication skills

Communication skills are used to create and articulate ideas, analyze situations, build consensus with others on the engineering team and lead challenging conversations. This involves speaking, writing, and listening in various contexts. Common communication tools include presentations, email threads, Slack discussions, and one-on-one meetings.

Product managers need strong verbal as well as written communication skills since they often have a lot of contact with customers during customer interviews; preparing market research reports that will be shared internally; presenting new product concepts to stakeholders including analysts who may not work at their company

2. Prioritization skills

Some product managers prioritize work by time or capacity while others are more results-oriented and focus on what’s most impactful for the business. Product managers need to be able to problem-solve, identify opportunities, create a plan of attack and then follow through with their timeline as best they can. They must also have a high tolerance for ambiguity in order to develop plans without being sure that certain features will get approved.

3. Teamwork abilities

Product managers must be able to work well as a team and know when it is appropriate to direct the team. They will also need to balance multiple priorities, so the ability to delegate tasks that are not their responsibility may come in handy, and being an effective communicator who can listen closely enough for others on the team to make adjustments where necessary.

4. Time management 

A product manager will need to be able to set and meet deadlines, which is why they may want to have some experience in a related field before attempting this job.

When it comes to working efficiently,  it is important to maximize time by prioritizing and delegating tasks according to what needs the most urgency.

Product managers should also be able to track their time in order to estimate how much they are working per hour so they will know if a deadline might not be met and need help from others or adjust accordingly.

5. Emotional intelligence

A product manager will need to be able to read emotions in order to better understand what is going on with the team, how their co-workers are feeling, and whether or not they should offer some guidance.

When a problem arises, it may take time for someone else's feelings about the issue at hand to come out so having interpersonal skills can help alleviate any of that stress.

Product managers also have many interpersonal relationships because they interact with everyone from developers, marketers, and executives all across an organization which means being empathetic and understanding others' perspectives is key to success as well.

6. Decision-making abilities

A product manager needs to be able to make good decisions on the fly in order for things to run smoothly.

Decisions will need to be made about what features should go into a given release, how much time and money is allotted for each project as well as other elements that come up such as new ideas or feedback from customers. 

It's important for this position because if an incorrect decision is made it could potentially harm the company, so being confident with their choices becomes imperative.

Product management career path: Is it worth it?

There are many advantages of being a product manager. The career generally comes with high pay, and also allows you to make decisions about products that will be used by millions or even billions of people. Of course, you need to meet certain PM education requirements

The good news is that you can meet those requirements by enrolling in a product management certification program or a product management bootcamp.

It has been said the job is one of the most satisfying careers out there. There are few downsides though - such as long hours, tight deadlines, and pressure from stakeholders.

That said, many people agree that this career path might be highly rewarding.