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Kent J McDonald
Product Manager & Writer
Asked a question last year

What's a good way for someone who has primarily worked on software development inside organizations (ie IT) to move into a product management role?

Where am I?

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I can speak to this both as a person who has come from a software development role and as a person who is wanting to hire a specific internal developer as a product manager.

There are a few attributes that are desirable:

Possess Industry Knowledge

When changing roles it's helpful to do so within the same industry where you have performed as a software developer. Context will be your best friend! You'll naturally have a great understanding of how solutions work, how to support the ideal customer, how to build things repeatable within the scope of the offering, and you may even know "where the bodies are buried". 

Display Extreme Ownership

I often tell product managers to act as the CEO of their product line. Own outcomes and be decisive. When bringing problems to your leadership team come with possible solutions and your recommendation.

Have a Bias Toward Action

You've heard the saying, "Ask for forgiveness, not permission." This holds true in any leadership position! 

Possess Great Communication Skills

Experience communicating internally and externally helps you develop framing techniques which will be key when positioning product and managing objections. 

Be Organized

The best engineers I have worked with are extremely organized. They are great about updating user stories and epics on a regular basis so that stakeholders can review progress and lessen the need for internal alignment calls. Watching them organize their work often leaves me wondering, "What does the program manager do?". That comment is not meant to take away from program managers out there... I'm mostly highlighting something that I see in great engineers.


Now getting back to the question of "How". If you are looking to move roles within your current organization simply speak with management about your desire and let it be known. You may be overlooked if you don't express interest!