The Perfect Product Manager Methodology

Alena Solutions’ process for selecting Product Managers, and what they need to bring to the table for our partners.

Let’s assume for the sake of this article that you’re in an executive or upper management role at a company that’s expanding your digital product output.

You don’t have too much if any, hands-on engineering experience, but your business savvy is next to none – you know how to run a company well; excellently, in fact. Yet, you’ve noticed that as your company is expanding its stable of engineers and developers, to match the amount of digital product delivery the company is charged with, simply hiring top tech talent and telling them “Coffee is down the hall and to the left, now get to work and let’s make this happen,” doesn’t equal product development success.

The digital industry has noticed that the humorous example above doesn’t work. In fact, even an industry as unseemingly tech-intensive such as publishing has reflected the demand for companies to hire more and more product managers. Engineers and developers are experts at their craft; Executives at steering the ship towards profit; Product Managers an invaluable conduit between the two.

As vague as a job title as Product Manager is, the bridge between technical execution and management has become a strikingly hot role to expand upon within organizations that operate in any of the digital industry verticals.

“There’s a huge demand,” says Eddie Koller III, a managing partner at Koller Search Partners. Because of this demand, product management had one of the largest hiring growths in 2018 and will continue this year.

Further, according to a report by LinkedIn, there are ~12,000 job openings in the US for PMs, which is double both that of the number of real estate agent and data scientist vacancies. Yet, along with such a hiring rush will come a slew of either inexperienced or ineffectual applicants to fill these roles, along with the qualified product management candidates.

You might be asking yourself, “How can I navigate this tide of candidates?” We’ve spent time in the past asking ourselves the same question and now we’re here to share our insights with you.

How do we go about choosing which Product Managers are a fit for the Alena Solutions team?

At Alena Solutions, one of our core services is Product Management for companies that we believe in. We won’t work with a team unless they’re eager to create a product that we ourselves will become personally invested in seeing become a success.

This means, that our Product Managers need to possess some key attributes, of course in addition to advanced product management skills, that align themselves with our company’s beliefs/philosophy, culture, and modus operandi.

Before we get started, keep this is mind – Product Management is a role where the scope and daily activities can be significantly different across industries, companies, etc. It can be as hands-on as needed or performed as a supplement for specific initiatives.

The concept of a Product Manager is the Jack of all Trades on the office floor, but finding a Product Manager King of all Trades is desirable and possible. Here’s what Alena Solutions looks for when we recruit Product Management Kings (PMKs):

Food for thought – be cautious

Even if you’ve worked with Product Managers before, don’t start salivating once you’ve received a seemingly stellar resume from a Stanford graduate with years of experience at a Fortune 50 company.

People can always talk the talk, and much of what we’ve covered in this article contains industry buzzwords that anyone can regurgitate and sound informed. Exercise empathy when evaluating Product Managers, but also exercise scrutiny and caution. Take the liberty of proposing a set of hypotheticals for how they would manage several situations that are common to your organization’s typical projects.

Each organization’s pipeline varies in terms of scope, complexity, staff, etc. You know your company better than anyone, so familiarize your candidates with the ins and outs of what makes yours unique, and continue to evaluate whether they match your team’s culture, while possessing the aforementioned attributes as well. Line those up and you have a Product Management King of all Trades in your hands.

Questions? Insights? Industry stories? Leave them in the comments below – we’re eager to hear from you and discuss.

About the author

David Tashjian

David is the Business Development Manager at Alena Solutions. In addition to his experience in B2B business development in the tech sphere, he has professional experience in content management and writing, digital marketing and business consulting. David studied History, Philosophy, and International Relations at Rutgers and Georgetown, and spends his time outside of work with his wife, Emma. They have two kids, Taline (cat) & Ruben (dog) who they dearly love.

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