Should Product Managers know How to Code?
By Arijit Banerjee
A Product Manager is often expected to be a ‘Jack of All Trades’, as he/she meanders his/her way through the entire product development process. He/she is expected to be everything for everyone involved in any way with the product. This brings us to the question - So is he/she also expected to know coding?
In today’s market, regardless of the product, the sale of the product or service is driven by technology - one way or the other. So it can be established that although coding is necessary to make a good product manager, it could be the difference between a good product manager and a great one. Knowledge of coding gives the manager a clear insight into every part of the development process, product launch, sales and after-sales processes as well.
Advantages enjoyed by a Product Manager who knows how to code
1. Scoping & Prioritizing Work – There are a number of smaller projects and processes in every product development process. A product manager who can code, understands why certain timelines are set by the development team, as he/she understands the nuances of the particular project or task at hand. This in turn translates into better management, better product strategies and better relationships with the people he/she is working with.
2. Understanding the workings of any system – Although a product manager does not need to know how to code, understanding or knowing how to code works to his/her benefit. It helps in understanding the platform on which the product is built, the product market, the system on which the product is created, model of their users, etc.
3. Ability to comprehend product details – Every product manager is entrusted with the burden of making a number of product decisions. This includes deciding what features will finally become a part of the product. In the product management process, a leader who is truly able to understand if it is possible to implement a feature or not and capable of determining timelines based on the same, is a more able leader.
4. Capability as a Problem Solver – The role of a product manager certainly has its share of problem-solving. The product manager who is able to code is capable of understanding the problem logically, and be a part of the solution instead of being reduced to a middleman who shifts the problem from one team to another.
There will be variation in the decisions taken by Product Managers at different levels of seniority. When you start growing as a Product Manager, you learn from experience what is important to be better at your job. With coding being the language of tomorrow, there is a tremendous return on investment for those who make the effort to learn to code. To conclude, even Steve Jobs, one of the greatest product managers, knew more than just the basics of coding.