There are a lot of paths people take to get into product manager, product owner or business analyst roles. There are as many product people with a marketing, accounting, or finance background as there are people with a software development background.
People who didn’t develop software somewhere in their career inevitably ask some variation of the question “I don’t have a technical background (read software development) can I still be a product manager (or product owner or business analyst)?”
Yes, you can be an effective product person without a technical background. And you probably should at least have a working understanding of the technology your team uses to build a solution for the problems you’re trying to solve.
This week’s Inside Product Management includes a look at that discussion from the perspectives of the different types of product people, explains some benefits of gaining technical skills, and suggests some ways to gain a technical understanding.
Do product managers need technical skills?
A common thread around product management involves how technical a product manager should be in order to be effective. This post from Product Manager HQ describes the two viewpoints to this age-old question and covers steps you can take to develop your technical foundation.
Do product owners need technical skills?
Roman Pichler shared an interesting view on the question of whether product owners need to have a technical background or not. His perspective – if you’re working on a user or customer facing digital product, you don’t need to be as technical as you need to be if you’re working on a technical product, or a component of a larger product.
Do business analysts need technical skills?
Laura Brandenburg takes a look at why technical skill requirements show up so often in job ads for business analysts and what those requirements really mean. The short answer: it’s helpful to distinguish whether you need technical understanding or technical skills. You always should have the first, the second is more dependent on the situation you’re in.
What are the benefits of having some technical understanding and skills?
Maddy Kirsch suggests that while having some technical skills can be helpful in your career as a product manager (or product owner or business analyst) it’s not necessary. She also suggests five benefits that product managers experience when they build up their technical skills.
If you want to expand your technical skills, you may want to focus on these
Colin Lernell suggests that all hard and soft skills boil down to empathy – you want to build a relationship of trust with your team. If you come from a technical background, don’t immediately question everything your development team tells you. If you don’t come from a technical background, learning these five technical skills will strengthen your relationship with your team.