Why I took a product management certificate course
I wanted to improve my communication skills with product managers but I got so much more out of this course. Product Managers play a very important role in the design process. They help identify opportunities, communicate business needs and most importantly they ensure that the overall vision of the product remains intact so we don’t get lost along the way. I have had the absolute pleasure of working with many talented product managers throughout my career and identified these skills as being highly transferable. Taking a course in product management helped me gain an understanding of product strategy and how to communicate with the business which I have been able to apply to every project I’ve worked on.
One of the things that sets Brainstation apart from the other schools I was looking at is their sense of community and building a culture around a digital skills education. I saw that they provide a ton of opportunities to grow your network and career. My relationship with Brainstation has been nothing but productive and extremely valuable. They hire industry practitioners to teach these digital skills class, so you get to hear real world examples and ask questions to someone who currently works as a PM. I was lucky enough to learn product management concepts directly from a very talented product manager who worked on the team at Facebook.
The course is broken into 3 main sections. The first section is Opportunity Discovery, during this part of the course we learned different techniques to discover and evaluate product opportunities. First focusing on understanding the problem we are trying to solve then using market research and competitive analysis to help us identify key success metrics that will validate our assumptions. Building on these ideas of how our product might add value to the customer segment as well as hitting key business goals and objectives.
The next section in the course focused on understanding Agile Project Management. This was extremely valuable to me. Up until this course I had been working in an agile framework for a while but never had a real command of it. Getting a chance to really break down the scrum process so that we can learn best practices for writing epics and user stories really helped me see the value of working in agile. Taking this zoomed out view of the scrum process also helped me see the dependencies involved across the product team. Since almost every team at every company uses agile slightly differently it’s very important to know the fundamentals so that you can apply them when needed.
The last big section covered in the course was the concept of an MVP. Up until this point I understood what an MVP is but I didn’t ever really get a chance to peek under the hood to see how those decisions were made. Learning how to really trim down a product to its Minimal Viable features helps you learn about scope and sizing, but also about how to choose features based on the value they bring to the user/customer. This part of the course also taught some general UX and prototyping which I also enjoy learning.
If you’re a product designer and you’re interested in really understanding the role of a product manager or you want to think more strategically about the product, I recommend taking a product management course. You will also get a sense of what is valuable to the business/stakeholders when presenting design solutions, this skill is super valuable and will help you when you are demoing and reviewing designs with your team.