Ask A Good Product Manager

Your product management questions answered

How can I become a product management consultant?

Posted on March 29, 2008 · 3 Comments

Question: What can I do to prepare me for product management consulting?

I’ve been a product manager for a few years and am thinking about eventually working in product management consulting, either on my own or for a product management consulting company. All of my experience has been with only one product and at my current employer. I’m not sure if I need to “branch out” more to be a successful consultant.

There are other products to gain experience on in my current company, but I don’t know if that would be “branching out” enough. Do I need to work on other products and in other industries? What experience and qualifications are helpful for becoming a product management consultant?

Answer from Adrienne Tan of brainmates: Experience working in different industries, on a variety of products and with different people will definitely help grow you as a consultant but the lack of diversity in your employment history should not prevent you from becoming a Product Management consultant.

There are a variety of ways in which you can “upskill” without having to seek new employment opportunities.

I recommend the following:

  1. Learn a solid Product Management methodology and apply it to your day-to-day Product Management practice and during the Product Development process. This is one of the most important tools in your “kit” that will carry you across a variety of products and industries. My work experience before working as a Product Management consultant was primarily in the telecommunications industry but the methodology that we use in our business has allowed me to consult to banks, software companies, the fashion industry and my favourite, a pizza business.
  2. Review your current work habits as a Product Manager. Act as a consultant and ask yourself a series of questions. Do you know and understand your customer? If you do, have you developed and managed your product based on your customers’ needs?? Do you understand the value drivers of your product and know which levers you can pull to steer your product in the right direction. You’ll find that by changing hats in your current role, you’ll see your product in a different light.
  3. Learn about the consulting process. Consulting is different to being a Product Manager. You’ll have 2 roles as a Product Management consultant. You’ll be a Product Manager + a Consultant and you’ll have to learn to be both effectively. Generally, you’ll use the skills of a Product Manager to get the job done but you’ll use the language of a consultant to obtain and deliver information to your client.
  4. Get a mentor!
  5. Attend Product Management training. There are quite a few organisations such as Pragmatic Marketing that specialise in Product Management training.

Good luck. I hope this has helped. Be sure to ask yourself why you want to be a Product Management consultant before embarking on this journey. You can only measure your satisfaction as a Product Management consultant if you know the answer to this question.

3 other answers so far ↓

  • Derek Britton // Apr 18, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    One more idea, which might turn out to be a good ROI for you personally, is to grab a couple of Product Management books and start checking how far off “de-facto industry standard” you might be in your current role. As well as this site and others, books can often give a fairly evangelical and prescriptive description of how the function ought to work in a typical organization, with of course any of the qualifying nuances thrown in.

    I’ve just finished Brian Lawley’s insightful “Expert Product Management”. It’s a very good and quick run through of some of the key facets (launches, roadmaps, BETAs) and he does it in an easy-to-read, easy-going style. But there are some real gems in there that, even after 10 years doing this kind of job, I’m thinking “wow, this is dynamite”. Brian is Mr. 280 Group among other credentials, so it should be no surprise that he writes well and knows the subject.

    There are plenty of others on the market, of course (I’m not Brian’s publicist!), but instead of the 500 bucks to fly to the courses and get the exam, the book for 30 bucks could be a good early investment – especially if you are doing a gap analysis on your own skillset versus an industry norm.

    Happy reading….

  • Brian Lawley // Jul 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I have been a product management consultant for over a decade. It is VERY difficult but you CAN do it.

    Check out http://www.280group.com under contact in the “work for us” section. Doing subcontracting is how I stayed alive the first few years – you can subcontract through us to get started.

    You can also become a certified product manager through our program or become one of our trainers.

    Hope this helps!

    Brian Lawley
    CEO & Founder
    http://www.280group.com
    Author, Expert Product Management

  • Jonathan // Mar 24, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Hi Brian

    Your organisation is exactly what I’ve been looking for in South Africa. I am currently a Product Manager and would love to work for an organisation such as yours. Working on different projects is something which excites me immensely. Do you perhaps have any branches/partners this side of the world ?

    Many thanks.

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