The roots of product management go back to the early 1930s when Neil H. McElroy, an employee at Procter & Gamble, came up with an idea of a “Brand Man”. According to him, this person is a business strategist of a kind responsible for the end-to-end product road mapping who should handle advertising, managing, and monitoring sales of a certain product with the purpose of promoting it.
With the advent of Industry 4.0, the range of goods to manage has grown to include digital products of all sorts – from edtech and medtech solutions to CRMs and mobile apps. Such an expansion caused the appearance of the role of an IT product manager whose responsibilities have been reshaped to address specific challenges endemic to the industry.
IT Product Management Made Plain
The classical definition of an IT product manager views them as the CEO of the product, who determines goals, maps product strategies, identifies success, motivates teams, and is ultimately responsible for the outcome. Such a complex mission requires a product manager’s mastery of three domains – business, technology, and user experience.
The business aspect dominates all activities of an IT product manager since their overarching goal is to maximize the product’s business value. To do that, the manager focuses on the optimization of the solution to augment ROI as much as possible.
Defining the characteristics of the item to be created is impossible without understanding the basics of product development. Naturally, no one expects a product manager to be able to do coding in Ruby or React. However, they must be able to determine the tech stack that will be utilized in the process and gauge the level of effort necessary for it.
In fact, their role is close to what in Scrum methodology is known as a product owner with their chief responsibility of creating backlog items according to standard templates. The tech expertise is so essential for a product manager that a technology expert has all chances to grow into a product manager at the end of the day.
The above-mentioned considerations are also true of the product manager's UX agenda. Being not a UI/UX designer, (s)he must adopt the point of view of a user upon the solution and actively participate in testing it as well as in culling users’ feedback firsthand.
With all the three sectors being extremely volatile in the fast-paced civilization of the early third millennium, it is mission-critical even for seasoned specialists (to say nothing of greenhorns) to constantly hone their skills and keep abreast of the latest trends in the field. The modern IT-powered education industry offers plenty of product management training opportunities to fit all learning preferences and wallet sizes.
The Best Product Management Courses to Choose from
Here comes the list of courses that we recommend to consider if you are looking for learning and training opportunities to enter the realm of product management or improve your current expertise. To let you judge their quality, we provided a 5-point-based rating of each.
1. Become a Product Manager Nanodegree Program by Udacity
In fact, this is not one single program but a whole galaxy of product management courses tailored to fit students with various starting levels – from beginners to currently working specialists. Moreover, the providers offer related management courses (Become a Data Product Manager and Become a Growth Product Manager) that cover various aspects of this activity.
The title course lasts for up to 4 months with 10 hours per week of training sessions that will leave no professional stone unturned – starting with product strategy and design and ending up with development and launch. Its unique feature is access to a student community which, together with a flexible schedule, personal mentor support, and extended career services (including LinkedIn profile optimization and resume review) ensure the quality of training you get.
The major downside of it is the high price – $399 a month (alternatively, you can pay the total upfront of $599). Besides, it doesn’t grant university credit but it doesn’t require any prior experience either. All in all, its rating is 4.6.
2. Product Management 101 by Udemy
Existing in the form of the 5-hour on-demand video course (plus 20 articles and over 40 downloadable resources), this training program is intended for product managers with some experience who would like to upgrade their skills. It covers the entire product lifecycle focusing on strategy, new product and lifecycle development, sales support, growth hacking, pricing, and market intelligence.
The chief asset of this training program is its greatest affordability among all available product management courses ($19.99 with frequent discounts to boot). This, and a plethora of practice activities, makes it a perfect choice for thrifty and time-squeezed businessmen. Although, many people find it too basic with not very engaging lectures, which earned it a 4.4 rating.
3. Become a Product Manager – Learn the Skills and Get the Job by Udemy
As you can judge from the name, it is geared towards job seekers and current managers who want to improve their skills. It is one of the most popular product management courses completed by over 70,000 people over 1,000 of who cinched the position at some blue-chip ventures including Google, Airbnb, Walmart, and Boeing.
You are to be aware of the basic business concepts and pay the full lifetime access fee of $94.99 to make use of about 13 hours of workmanlike content. The latter embraces not only videos and interviews with the top instructors and real-life product managers. Its varied learning activities comprise building user stories, UX wireframing and prototyping, quizzes, experimenting with MVPs, etc. And don’t forget the extensive reference list of 25 articles and over 121 downloadable resources.
Being a little too basic for professionals in the field, this course is rated 4.5.
4. The Complete Product Management Course by Udemy
Paying the same sum, you can onboard this program which is primarily designed for specialists in related fields who want to switch to a product manager career or junior personnel in this profession. At the same time, its structure and contents can be embraced by novices in the realm as well. Its almost 6-hour long on-demand video will take you all the way through the basic road map of product development starting with ideation down to obtaining a finished solution. All the examples the course relies on are real-world ones from the major league of business (for instance, the NASA app with its 10 million downloads).
What distinguishes this program from other product management courses is the hands-on experience of implementing a product idea of your own by completing the series of 10 exercises, where you leverage working files and sample templates. By doing this, you get wireframes, a backlog of features, and an interactive prototype.
Special perks of the course are its section on the Agile methodology aimed at training a product owner and teaching to employ product management tools, such as Axure, Pivotal Tracker, and Workflowy. However, it is rated 4.4, which is explained by the outdated software tutorials it utilizes.
5. Master the Product Manager Interview – The Complete Guide by Udemy
The same price, the same rating, and almost the same duration – but a totally different focus. Unlike the previous product management courses, this one is meant for those who want to hit the bull’s eye at the interview for a product management vacancy. To start with, it teaches you to navigate a specialized job search site, write an impressive resume, and create an adequate portfolio. The very procedure of such interviews is also tackled with the tips on responding to over a hundred commonly asked interview questions – not only behavioral and estimation ones, but also those related to the product vision and execution together with those that test your problem-solving abilities.
To make the application procedure seem real, you are offered 25 mock interviews, resume examples, email templates, and more. Besides, by learning to use your body language properly, you will be able to make a positive impression during an interview for any other managerial position. A 30-day money-back guarantee comes as icing on the cake for students who will take up this course.
6. Product Management A-Z: Excel as a PM & Build Great Products by Udemy
This one is perhaps the shortest out of all product management courses provided by Udemy, however, it covers an exceedingly wide range of topics – from the Agile methodologies and user journey mapping to designing an MVP and usability testing. Paying $19.99 for the full lifetime access to it, you will get a little under 5 hours of video content divided into 28 lectures as well as real-world case studies, hands-on exercises, interview tips, quizzes, and a plethora of other activities.
Somewhat deficient in offering an in-depth curriculum (and that is why having a 4.3 rating), this course is a solid pick for novices in the field or acting product managers who want to brush up on a certain skill (say, creating wireframes or getting to grips with metrics frameworks). Yet, the readability of slides could be better.
7. Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals by the University of Virginia
Delivered by the Coursera platform, this program is the most popular one at the site and evidently one of the most academic among product management courses on our roster. The course costs $79 and can be completed within 4 weeks at a student-friendly pace of 2-3 hours per week. However, deadlines are rather strict so some busy learners may find it hard to fit the training into their rigid schedules. Yet, the verified certificate of completion you will get is well worth finding a room for it in the timetable.
Providing comprehensive product management instruction to students, the course has a primary focus on managing solutions that require frequent updates. Its excellent video tutorials (which can’t be said of slides, though) with subtitles in several languages enable students’ participation in hands-on projects and develop skills of exploring fresh product ideas and enhancing existing solutions.
The course is intended for beginners but some basic software development expertise would be instrumental in mastering it. Generally speaking, the target audience of this 4.7-rated program mostly comprises acting product managers with an aspiration for perfection.
8. Brand and Product Management by IE Business School
This is one more Coursera-powered, academia-developed, and certificate-issuing program. The platform claims that 19% of people who completed the 4.6-rated course got a promotion or salary increase and 40% launched a new career.
On paying $49, you receive a 14-hour-long content split into 6 modules containing interviews both with experts and consumers (subtitled in multiple languages), quizzes, graded assignments accompanied by feedback, and more. Passing from module to module, you will learn the lifecycle of brand development and product management, including strategy mapping, portfolio creating, and the choice of metrics to implement them.
The only downside we have spotted is the absence of the ability to view quiz solutions, which is more than offset by the weighty assets the course promises.
9. Digital Product Management MicroMasters Program by Boston University
Provided by EdX, this program is the longest to complete (8 months) and the most expensive of the product management courses we review in this article (a little under $2,000). In fact, it is a master’s degree-winning online course comprising five graduate-level units with 6-8 weeks per unit and 4-8 hours of learning workload per week, that can be viewed as an integral part of classical education.
As a serious academic endeavor, the course provides fundamental theoretical knowledge and fosters practical skills in all aspects of product management, which earned it one of the highest ratings in the niche (4.7). The units the course embraces can be taken in any order and, having completed them all, you are sure to become a well-trained product manager to apply your qualification in projects of your own.
10. Google’s APM Program
By contrast, this is the cheapest option because it is free. It can hardly be rated since it is more of an internship program than a learning course. You need a background in computer science or related fields to join it and have a chance to share in the experience and knowledge of the top product experts of Google and try your hand at a full-time or part-time job as a PM with this world-renowned brand. The fortes of this program are its robust mentorship scheme and vibrant social events offered to participants.
Product management is a rapidly developing sphere that constantly onboards novel approaches and addresses fresh challenges that crop up at a neck-breaking speed in our quick-paced world of the 21st century. By enrolling for one of the product management courses, you will be able to stay up to date with the recent advent in the domain and keep your professional skills honed for new achievements and career prospects.