Becoming an outstanding product management consultant can be a rewarding career choice as the world of consulting offers quite a few opportunities. With the right skillset, personal qualities and methods, consultants can shoot any great idea right to the stars.
Making clients happy by offering professional advice, flexibility, knowledge and precision is the goal of any product management consultant. They know how to move around the market, provide solutions to problems and utilize the latest technology. Most importantly, they possess a professional outlook that allows them to spot great potential and immediately visualize the road ahead.
With that being said, what are the right qualities of a product management consultant? Can anyone take on such a role and launch a successful career? Let’s find out!
What is a Product Management Consultant?
First, let’s try to define what a product management consultant is.
A product management consultant is someone who collaborates with clients, project managers and other involved parties to provide optimal products and satisfactory business results. They are capable of navigating both the business and technical aspects of a product, in order to recommend solutions that will help with achieving business objectives. Some of the product management consultant duties include:
Analyzing client requirements
Attracting prospective new clients
Maintaining relationship with existing clients
Optimizing training materials
Overseeing marketing efforts
Identifying technical problems
Sharing product knowledge to staff
Delivering product demonstrations
Talking to customers
But, most importantly, an outstanding product management consultant should be capable of:
Coordinating multiple teams to get the product built and launched.
Analyzing data from various sources and using it to make final decisions on product development and launch.
Ultimately, it comes down to handling and overseeing a lot of little pieces. That’s why product consultants play a key role in small businesses and startups. They are professionals who work with products from idea to their execution.
In addition to experience, knowledge and vision, one of the most important qualifications a product management consultant brings to the table is their ability to work well with people and communicate effectively. By doing so, everyone will surely work towards achieving the same goal.
What are the Most Important Qualities of a Product Management Consultant?
A good product management consultant should get people from different areas of the business, company or organization to unite behind one single vision. Moreover, they should have brilliant leadership skills, problem-solving abilities, time management and attention to detail. What else, though? Here are the top qualities of a product consultant:
Killer communication skills
If you want to be a product consultant and build products, you have to learn how to communicate effectively. Internal communication is just as important as external communication. Consultants have to know how to talk to clients, as well as to the rest of the team members. Moreover, a good consultant should be able to change communication styles and adapt based on the current situation. A successful consultant must have good speaking and written communication skills that will help him clearly communicate ideas, responsibilities, tasks and expectations.
Good at building relationships
This comes as an extension of the first important skill. When you are a good communicator, you will easily start building better relationships. Better and stronger relationships with team members increases employee productivity and ultimately, product success.
Great industry knowledge
It’s beneficial when product management consultants have great communication and networking skills. It’s even better when those skills are added to a great understanding of the business world. Knowing the latest technologies and how to use them is also insufficient. A consultant should understand the business world, how to prepare a business plan, how to work with budget, analyze competition and identify target markets.
At the end of the day, clients seek consultants because of the expectation that a consultant will surely have better knowledge and expertise than the client. For this reason, consultants should have comprehensive industry knowledge and the ability to research, ask questions and provide deeper solutions. There are plenty of information sources and industry literature that can help any junior consultant find out more about a specific business or industry. Networking is another great way to obtain important information. Remember, a good consultant is not just someone who knows a lot but someone who is a continuous learner and is always looking to know more and improve their skills.
Product management consultants can’t go far if they’re not tech-savvy. Here, we’re talking about numerous tools that accompany any product development and release. From project management apps, to analytical tools, a consultant should be skillful at recognizing what set of tools should be used depending on the project.
Time management skills
If you want to build a product consulting career, you have to be great at managing your time. A good consultant adjusts schedule, work style and deadlines according to the current job requirements and timeframe. Regardless of time constraints, consultants should always produce quality work. You should mentally prepare yourself for harsh deadlines and quick adjustments at the last minute if you want to be successful at your job.
This is a must-have skill for consultants. Being able to look at a problem from all angles and apply good decision-making skills to figure out the best possible solution will get you far in your consulting career. Listen to your clients and analyze their situation. Consider every little detail and piece of information you’ve acquired from all departments or teams working on the project. Solving problems with all that essential data taken into account will make you an invaluable consultant.
Sometimes, a good reputation is more valuable than money. Your business reputation will follow you wherever you go. That’s why, if you want to be remembered as a brilliant consultant and referred to potential new clients, make sure you’re kind, polite, professional and responsible. Always work with integrity, transparency and positive attitude. At the end of the day, you may be the most knowledgeable consultant in a certain industry but if you’re not considered trustworthy or reliable, nobody will want to work with you.
What are the Methods of a Great Product Management Consultant?
If you want to be an expert in product management and become a product management consultant, you have to know how to move around the market. The following methods will most certainly help you do that.
Create / Analyze a Roadmap
The first thing you should do when becoming a product consultant is take a look at the product plan or create one by yourself. Establishing a plan for product development is absolutely essential. A document like this should include the following specific elements:
Technology and various conditions needed to create the final product
Logistics and Operations
A clear roadmap helps with structuring, managing and growing a new business. It allows consultants and clients to keep track of progress, changes and product development. If anything changes, a roadmap can easily be updated and shared with team members and clients.
Think Strategically and Analyze Every Piece of Information
Before you make any decision as a product manager or a consultant, you have to first collect enough data for evaluation. This means communicating with your customer about their needs and expectations and measuring them against factual data and specific numbers. Be open-minded and come up with a solution that will satisfy the current situation. Remember, not every problem will have a solution that will benefit everyone involved in the business. However, your goal is to get the product to the final stage and sometimes, certain sacrifices have to be made and expectations have to be adjusted.
Flexibility Should be Your Superpower
Your business plan didn’t work out? The marketing strategy you agreed on didn’t produce any results? Don’t worry. It’s never too late to adjust your roadmap or propose a new direction. Don’t stick with the current plan if it’s obvious that it’s not working. Fulfil your customers’ expectations and not yours. If you advised on a certain strategy about a product launch, for instance, and it didn’t work out for the best, suggest a back-up plan. Follow the outcomes.
As mentioned before, communication and coordination skills are a must-have for any product consultant. You will have to work with employees and team members in different departments so it’s good to make sure everybody will understand you and your vision for the product. A competent consultant will know how to convey information the right way and turn any group of employees into a high-performing team.
Moreover, solid communication channels and good team coordination motivates everyone to do their best. It shows that you care about the product and are willing to go the extra mile for finalizing the product. Motivation, on the other hand, leads directly to productivity, increase in sales and improved company image.
Learn how to Integrate the Right Set of Tools
We’ve briefly mentioned that a good product management consultant should be tech-savvy and know a thing or two about product and team management software. Depending on the situation, proposing a set of useful tools that will accompany the initiation and development of the product should be part of your business plan. Evaluate factors like budget, number of team members, type of working situation (remote or in-office) and type of product/service, in order to conclude which communication or data analysis software to use. There’s plenty of them, that’s for sure. Asana and Trello are useful for task management. Google Sheets or Slides is good for sharing documents or presentations. Mombit is suitable for managing all your meetings.
Product consultants know how to translate their vision to developers, designers, writers and any other member of the team. Consultants manage expectations and make sure everyone, including the client and employees, is looking towards the same objective.
Consultants should understand why is teamwork important in the workplace and be part of the team, ready to provide advice and also learn from the other team members. Great product management consultants work efficiently. They are hired to provide expertise on certain matters and complete their work in a timely manner. If they do so, they will end up with more than a client to add to their portfolio - they will end with a satisfied customer and a connection they can rely on for future references.
One last thing - if you plan on consulting businesses on how to develop and manage a product, you should always act in a professional and courteous manner. Remember that a single good impression or a fruitful business talk can quickly turn into a tremendous new opportunity to advance your career. Good luck!