The 4 Must-Have Skills for Product Managers

The Essential Guide for Effective PMs

Sydney Chen
Published in
4 min readApr 24


product team discuss the product feature with product manger, UI/UX designer, engineers
from Unsplash

Product management is a critical role in any software company, responsible for bringing ideas to life and ensuring their success in the market. To excel in this role, product managers need to possess a unique set of skills and knowledge, from strategic planning to user research and technical expertise.

In this article, we will explore the 4 essential qualities that every successful product manager should possess, and provide practical tips on how to develop and refine these skills.

1. Product planning/Product design

As a PM, you are responsible for determining the product direction. This involves identifying the problems the app will solve, deciding on the features to design, setting goals and objectives, and more.

When planning a product, you need to consider several key factors, including:

  1. Requirement Document: This document clearly outlines why a particular feature or product is necessary. It should describe the problems that the app will solve and why it is important to address these issues.
  2. Specification Document: This document is presented to the engineering team during the development phase. It outlines the technical details of the product, such as the architecture, user interface, and functionality.

By considering these documents and effectively communicating their contents, you can ensure that everyone on the team is aligned on the product’s direction and that it will meet the needs of both the business and the end-user.

💡Recommend learning resource:
Become a Product Manager | Learn the Skills & Get the Job: A complete guide for product management.

2. Project Management/Agile development

In addition to planning product positioning and direction, PMs also need to promote the actual implementation of the project. These works include scheduling, organizing resources, confirming priority, etc.

Prioritizing requirements:

There are always many tasks on the to-do list, but the resources are limited. Therefore, prioritization is the crucial process to ensure that we’re making the best use of our limited resources and delivering the most impactful features to our customers.

There are many ways to prioritize, such as RICE/ICE or CPU (cost, performance, urgency), which is adopted by our team. By prioritizing quantitatively, we can present a compelling case to our development team and stakeholders for why certain features should be prioritized over others.

Scheduling the development of each department:

As a product manager, one of your key responsibilities is to oversee the development of new features for your product. However, developing a new feature is not a simple process. It involves the cooperation of multiple departments such as UI designers, backend and frontend developers, and others.

Here are some questions you need to clarify before arranging the project:

  1. Confirm which department is required to implement the feature.
  2. When is the feature expected to go online?
  3. How long does each position need to spend?
  4. Arrange the time for each position to implement this feature.

Of course, obstacles often arise during the development process, and it’s essential for a PM to be flexible and adjust the schedule accordingly. Being able to adapt to these changes is crucial in ensuring the success of the project.

💡Recommend learning resource:
The Project Management Course: Beginner to Project Manager
Learn more about Agile and Waterfall project, and the real-life project scenarios.

schedule project management
from Unsplash

3. Domain knowledge of Marketing/UIUX design/Programming

To effectively work with people from different professions, it’s important to speak their language and understand their domain knowledge.

Among the various fields, engineering knowledge especially requires more time to learn. You don’t have to know how to write code, but you have to have the ability to estimate the complexity of each feature and to understand some professional words such as APIs.

I recommend learning how to create your own software by using App Inventor, which will help you quickly understand programming logic and give you a sense of accomplishment, even if you do not know how to write code.

💡Recommend learning resource:
1. Product marketing:
Product Management Marketing: Dekker’s Product Marketing MBA
2. UI/UX design:
User Experience Design Fundamentals
3. Programming:
Technical Product Management: Learn on 4 Real Industry Cases

4. Data analysis

As a PM in a software company, data is key to making decisions. With the right tools, you can analyze data, gain insights, and make data-driven decisions to improve your product and marketing strategy.

According to the product, you may oversee retention rate, usage time, or conversion rate, which are all important metrics to track to understand how users are engaging with your product.

To effectively analyze the data, you can use various tools such as Google Analytics, Flurry, Firebase, Metabase, or Tableau. These tools can help you visualize data, track metrics, and gain insights to make data-driven decisions. If you want to monitor marketing results, you can use tools such as Google Ads and Facebook advertising tools. These tools can help you track the performance of your advertising campaigns, such as click-through rates, conversions, and impressions.

By understanding the data behind the features and marketing efforts, you can adjust your strategy to optimize performance and achieve better results.

💡Recommend learning resource:
1. Become a Data Driven Product Manager (online course)
Data Analytics, Data Visualization & Communicating Data: 3 books in 1 (book)

Congratulations! You now have a clear understanding of what it takes to be a successful product manager in a software company. Remember mastering these four skills, you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals as a product manager and delivering successful products that meet the needs of your customers.



Sydney Chen
Writer for

From accounting to design thinking, to UX and then to PM. Too many things to learn, so just relax & enjoy in the life!