If you’re thinking about getting product management training, here are 6 great online programs here in the U.S.
Taking Product Management Classes Online
Why should I take training classes? Before I landed a job as a product manager, I took a few training classes online. Initially, I thought that I was all set with 2 courses. I was wrong! If you want to compete here in Silicon Valley, you’ll have to commit to continuous improvement.
The good thing is that online courses are extremely accessible. Some are several hours while others are for several weeks. Because product managers need a diverse skill set, few programs cover the entire spectrum of topics. Most programs focus on an aspect of product management, such as strategy, road mapping, or methodology. Pick an area that you struggle with and find product management training that addresses it.
Here are 6 online programs from accredited universities that offer some form of product management training.
Northwestern Kellog College of Management
Kellog offers a two-month program focusing on a product’s journey from conception through successful delivery. It uses successful products from companies such as Microsoft and Apple as a basis for discussion before moving to hands-on exercises. The exercises provide an opportunity to put theory into practice. The program is useful for anyone who hasn’t seen a product through its entire lifecycle. If you’re new to the field, this may be a place to start. To earn certification, complete the program with an average score of at least 80%.
University of Virginia
This four-week program teaches the basics of product management. It introduces modern product management methods and explores ways to find new product ideas. It is customer-focused. It reviews different methods for collecting customer input and validating data collection methods. The program outlines various ways to determine customer outcomes and to achieve stakeholder buy-in. Different methods for qualitative and quantitative analysis are presented. You do not need to complete any prerequisites before enrolling in the program. Look into this program if you need to brush up on your customer-focused methodology.
Boston University’s program is not for everyone. It really is an online master’s degree in Digital Product Management. It is not a general product management training program, although many of its techniques apply to more than just digital products. Boston University sees digital products as the future and is offering a program to train product managers in the product-specific requirements. The program consists of five courses of six to eight weeks each. The typical workload assumes four to eight hours a week.
A team of nine trainers from Boston University provides instruction. The five courses cover the following:
- Principles and processes for developing product roadmaps
- Tools and software for smooth development and management
- Social media metrics for overseeing the launch of products and software
- Lifecycle management such as versioning and pricing
- Techniques for getting buy-in
This program is the most extensive and requires a significant time commitment. More details about the program and its certifications can be found on the University’s website.
University of Alberta
The Canadian university offers a specialized program for software product management. Although all product cycles share similarities, software products have slightly different requirements. If you are interested in managing software products, this program covers management practices for Agile software development. It does not require programming experience or skills, which is a plus for entry-level product managers.
A final project requires you to apply management techniques to real-life scenarios. It tests your ability to interact with developers and customers much as a software product manager would. You will also learn from others in the class and apply management theory to industry-inspired problems. The course has flexible deadlines and is designed to last four months at around seven hours per week.
The product management training program is offered through eCornell. It is a certification program that follows a product through its entire lifecycle. It is a self-paced program. If you can’t block out hours at a time, this may not be the best fit. Personally, I have difficulty finding blocks of time after work or even on weekends, so I know this program wouldn’t be an added frustration.
Cornell’s program is unique in that you follow a product from design to launch through the certification program. It gives you much-needed exposure to the design and development phase of a project. The course will expose you to roadmaps, prototypes, and feedback loops. You will learn how to incorporate changes throughout the product’s lifecycle. The program will help you identify the best management technique for a project. When you complete the program, you receive a Cornell Certificate for product management.
Stanford University offers several product management courses through its Continuing Studies program. The classes are listed under the Professional and Personal Development programs. They include courses on agile management, fundamentals of product management, and user design for product managers. Courses are taught by Stanford University staff and are ten-weeks long. There is frequent online interaction among instructors and students, so you are not learning in a vacuum.
Stanford offers an extensive catalog of courses. Some courses are listed under the College of Business, others through the Continuing Studies program. If you are interested in taking classes through Stanford, you may need to spend some time tracking down what topics are available.
If you prefer in-person instruction, check out your local colleges or universities. Many institutions offer product management courses through continuing education, and some will offer classes through their Business colleges. Some offer product management training through Executive MBA programs.
If you have minimal experience working on remote teams, an online program is an excellent way to gain experience. More companies, especially in the technology industry, are moving towards remote teams. Not everyone may work remotely, but a percentage of your team members may. Any experience you can gain on how to collaborate and communicate on remote teams will be an added plus as a product manager.
Whether you choose formal online or in-person programs or shorter workshops and seminars, don’t skip ongoing training opportunities. The industry is changing so rapidly that if you don’t keep up, you will quickly be left behind.
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