Looking for a Product Management Job in 2016? 5 Trends you Need to Know

product management job

Like you, we have now seen a dozen articles predicting the top trends for product managers in 2016. Yes, we know that better communication is on the rise.

But what is really happening in the product management world? At ProductPlan we have the opportunity to engage with hundreds of PMs every month. We’ve identified some long-term trends that will take place not just in 2016, but in the coming years. If you are looking for a new product management job, here are five trends that should be on your radar.

1. It’s time to boost your skills: More training choices than ever

We’ve noticed a proliferation of training and other opportunities to learn the skills that product managers need. This includes training classes, both through traditional organizations such as Pragmatic Marketing and newer entrants such as General Assembly.

Even academia is getting involved, with several universities offering continuing education and specialized programs for product management and software product management.

We expect that this trend will continue with grassroots events such as ProductCamp, meetup groups, and other informal learning opportunities that appear for product managers.

2. Lean startup methods will continue to be in demand

Companies — even large enterprises — are continuing to embrace lean startup and customer development processes. As a product manager, it’s important to continue to read up and practice these skills in your role. These skills include rapid prototyping, engaging early with customers, iterating rapidly, and killing bad ideas.

3. Product Managers will have access to more data than ever

With so many data and analytics tools coming on the market in the last few years, product managers have more metrics-driven data for making decisions. But with the good comes the bad — there is a firehose of data. As a product manager, you’re at the intersection of so many data streams from support, finance, sales, IT, and other departments. Product managers are needing to deal with more complexity than ever.

Luckily these tools continue to become more mainstream and refined. And the best practices around metrics-driven product management are becoming more well known and written about.

Many of these tools such as Pendo.io, Kissmetrics, Intercom are specifically geared towards product and customer engagement.

4. Proliferation of product management tools

In 2016, vendors will continue to fill software gaps and product managers will have a stronger set of purpose-built tools at their disposal. With specialized tools for roadmapping, customer engagement, analytics, project management, and more, product teams will be able to work more efficiently than ever.

For example, our 2015 product roadmap survey revealed that most product managers are still using and are frustrated by presentation software (PowerPoint) and spreadsheets (Excel) to manage their roadmaps. PMs are hungry for new solutions that let them engage with stakeholders in a more productive way.

5. Living roadmaps will become more predominant

A roadmap should be agile and thought of as a living document rather than a plan set in stone. Unlike the product roadmaps of a few years ago, today’s roadmaps, at least in the longer term, are now fluid. This is partly the result of agile development techniques, but also because of a growing awareness that decisions made in the executive conference room may not be the right answer once customers are engaged in the validation of new ideas.

Like the backlog, the product roadmap should be regularly discussed, prioritized, estimated, updated, and shared. And product roadmap software or other web-based tools enable the roadmap to adapt quickly as decisions are made.
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