Should a product manager know how to code?

To learn programming languages ​​or not to learn? That is the question. Every product manager has come across it at the beginning of their career. In short – no, but there are nuances.

Who is this person, a product manager anyway? He formulates product development strategies that achieve business goals, are technically feasible, and meet customer needs. And business is the key word here. The tasks of a manager are related to the business side and are different from those of a programmer; already therefore coding is simply optional.

But what about the nuances?

Company size

First, between the duties of a manager
In order to minimize time costs and get results faster, you will have to learn to code. If you work in a startup with a small number of people and, for example, want to get some data from the database, then it is better to be able to write

elementary Python / SQL queries than writing a task for the right developer. In this case, programming skills become a forced necessity.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to small startups. The culture of many large companies is that they only recruit employees with a technical background, even for the role of product manager. For example, Tinkoff and Yandex do this. In general, this decision is understandable: the overall technical skills of the team are increasing, which allows you to create more complex products.

Deep product knowledge

There are no unimportant features in the product, so you have to dig deep into each of them. Understanding the code will help you think carefully about important decisions regarding the implementation of certain functions and algorithms, and make the right decisions.

For example, the same SQL will help you understand exactly how customers interact with your products, and take this data into account. That is, you will not only be better prepared to make decisions, but you will also be able to explain to your team why you made them.

Communication with the team

Imagine that you went to England without even knowing how to say hello in English. Basically, you can do it this way. But you don’t really interact with the locals.

Just as knowing English would help when traveling, so the ability to program will help you speak the same language with developers, quickly understand both the technology stack and

in the problems faced by its developers. Although you will have to analyze different stacks to work with different products, there are generally accepted standards for each type of development – Java / Swift / Kotlin for mobile or MEAN / LAMP web development.

That is, if you have the necessary skills, then when you read the code, you will be able to understand whether all your requirements have been met.

Expanding horizons

Like it or not, nothing will help you improve your problem-solving skills as well as programming. Not a single issue can be solved the first time. In the process of debugging a program, you have to be patient – as in the process of solving any life problems.

In addition, planning is also a huge part of coding. So if you have problems with the organization of the workflow, then it’s time to take on SQL or Python.

Bonus: Technical interview

As mentioned above, some large companies do not accept employees without a technological background. Even if your duties will not include working with the code, you will still have to pass a technical interview. There is nothing to fear: your potential employers are not crazy people. So you won’t run into incredibly complex programs in a technical interview. It is enough to take a general and short Computer Science course to understand the basics.

Summing up

No programming skills are required to become a product manager. On the other hand, having a basic understanding of languages ​​and technical principles will help you better perform your duties, understand and interact with the team. There are many technical short courses, after passing which you can become a top specialist. For example, I can advise:

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