With roughly 15 years of experience in New Product Development, including over 5 years as a Global Product Planner and Product Manager in the Xbox group at Microsoft, I spent some time thinking about whether I should pursue formal certification in Product Management. Here’s a proposal I put together for my management team to evaluate. Any Product Managers interested in proposing something similar at their companies can feel free to leverage this proposal and modify it for your own purposes, as long as you share some stories about the process and your results in the comments below :) For others who have already gone through the process, some questions include (1) did you get support from your company to pursue certification? (2) what was your process to get approval? (3) have you seen a clear benefit in your role/company after going through the certification process?
Hello [Insert Manager’s Name Here] –
Here is a proposal for the Product Management Certification Training that we discussed during our most recent career planning discussions.
Obtain formal training for Product Management certification to learn best practices in the field across industries, enhance Product Management skills, develop professionally, leverage enhanced skillset in our business group, and share best practices with the rest of the team.
I’m involved in several organizations that promote the sharing of best practices and professional development of Product Managers, such as the Product Management Council. Some of these organizations, such as the Association of International Product Marketers and Managers (AIPMM, http://www.aipmm.com/ ) offer formal training courses and certification in Product Management that leverages knowledge across several different industries. I have done an internal search on Learning Central (http://learningcentral) for Product Management and have not found any formal Microsoft training programs that offer the depth of knowledge and breadth across industries offered by these external organizations. Most of what I’ve found in learning central is software development focused, and mainly around Project management.
The certification process for Product Management focuses on some of the following areas (list taken directly from AIPMM Certified Product Manager exam website):
· Building case studies
· Writing business plans segmented for each major function
· Market planning
· Competitive analysis
· Project plans for each major activity
· Product specifications
· Develop product launch plans
· Product Life Cycle Project modeling
· Phase-Gate Process modeling
· Product/Market Data modeling
Additionally, other levels of Product Management training that I’ve found further develop skills and the ability to (list taken directly from UC Berkeley Product Management website):
· Appropriately allocate resources among products
· Prepare a meaningful business case
· Price products to optimize product and product-line profitability
· Determine the most effective methods for obtaining and integrating market feedback to drive product decisions
· Effectively manage your product team, even without direct authority
· Influence all stake-holders in your products
· Develop a top-notch launch plan
· Optimize the marketing mix
· Develop profitable products customers will love
Programs and Fees:
There are several programs that I’ve found that fit within the career development plan I’m proposing to achieve the objective stated above. My proposal would be to take one or two of these courses/conferences, not all of them, to help control costs. The programs include (costs vary and are highlighted below):
· UC Berkeley Product Management Executive Education; May 9-13, 2011 ($6,300) – http://executive.berkeley.edu/programs/product-management/details.html
· Product Management Education and Certification Conference, ~ May 2011 ($1,590) – http://pmecwest.com/
· Product Management Certification through Pragmatic Marketing ($2,590) – http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/seminars/certification
· AIPMM Certified Product Manager Self-Study and Certification through 280 Group ($1,295) –
· Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) New Product Development Professional (NPDP) Certification, April 5-6, 2011 ($1,689) – http://www.pdma.org/certified.cfm
After getting a thorough understanding of the best practices and tools across industries in the field of product management, some of the benefits for me and Microsoft include:
· Develop professionally in my role within IEB
· Gain the ability to improve the tools and processes we use on a regular basis at Microsoft
· Enhance interaction with other groups, including hardware development team
· Share the training and best practices with others in the team to support the commitment of building a world class Product Management/Marketing culture.
I look forward to hearing how I can proceed to add this to my career development plan.
Sr. Global Product Manager – Xbox