Breakthrough Insights

One Skill That’ll Make You a Better Product Manager

The dual forces of increasingly complex development projects and heightened expectations of quickly getting a safe and high-quality product to market have changed the way development teams must collaborate to meet these demands.

At the heart of successfully bringing together disparate teams to accomplish this is one skill, specifically: communication.

Learning to effectively communicate as a product manager can mean the difference between a successful product launch or a minefield of errors and missed deadlines.

During the development process, every team member needs clear visibility not only into their own responsibilities, but also insight into the whole of the project — including what every other team member is doing, what changes occur along the way, and all relevant requirements, feedback and deadlines. This makes communication a critical skill for a successful product manager.

Communication is a Soft Skill That Provides Tangible Results

The value of “soft” skills like communication can’t be understated for an effective product manager, especially in a development project with multi-discipline teams working in different locations on different parts of the same project. Teams may be working apart in proximity, but their efforts are no longer siloed.

Successful product managers should be prepared to articulate the big picture of the project at hand, as well as the granular details that can and will crop up during the process.

A product manager should also know the essential questions of any development project: what is being built (and why?), what problem is the finished product trying to solve, and how do you measure success. Keeping those questions front of mind, adapting the answers as needed due to changes or updated requirements, and always keeping stakeholders in the loop is equally important.

Providing teams with feedback and taking corrective action when needed will likewise keep stakeholders on the same page and ensure all oars are in the water and rowing in sync.

Discovering an error early in the process mitigates the need to revisit completed work, which can cost substantial time and resources, and put undue stress on team members.

The product manager must also keep the project scope clearly defined, updating it as needed to avoid mission creep or wasted effort.

Leveling Up Communications During Development

Clearly articulating the multitude of directives and shifting goals and priorities across teams is essential for ensuring all targets are hit and mistakes are caught and corrected early. Misunderstandings at any point in the development process can have knock-on effects that impact the entire project.

Old standby team communication methods like meetings and whiteboard presentations still have their place, but harnessing the power of software solutions like the Jama Product Development Platform will streamline the process and connect your entire team, looping in all stakeholders to key decisions and big changes in real-time. This greatly reduces the chances of miscommunication with features like project dashboards, targeted alerts and notifications and customized reporting widgets.

Product managers have to juggle enormous amounts of information up and down the development chain, not just customer feedback, analytics data and research reports, but also listening to the concerns of team members. A comprehensive software-based solution can bring all of that information together in one place, in addition to facilitating those essential team-wide communication processes.

The product manager is the central communication hub of a development project, bridging the gap between teams, and concisely relaying changes handed down from the client back to the stakeholders.

Depending on the complexity of the project, and the number of requirements involved, the team will need different amounts of feedback from the product manager to ensure a project is executed and delivered with as few difficulties as possible.

Sharpening your communication skills and investing in modern solutions as a product manager will pay dividends in countless ways, making you more effective in the process.

Learn 21 tips to manage every project like a pro with our eBook, “Project Management Best Practices.”