As non-technical PM, would you rather improve your existing skills or acquire the ones you lack in particular?

Hello everyone!

I’m considering investing a year in honing my technical knowledge and abilities because I’m a non-technical PM. I haven’t determined how I want to approach this yet. But I’m thinking about doing either self-training or earning MS in Computer Science. However, the more I debate on this, the more I understand that perhaps I should be spending time on really diving deep with my business expertise and finally become the best version of business expert in the PM sector that I could ever be. This is because, even after a year, I won’t be able to become an expert in technology and be able to handle complicated technical tasks, which, in most cases, I won’t even have to do since I’m a project manager. However, having a lot of ideas swirling in my head I want to be able to create MVP myself and maybe it will grow into a profitable startup someday. All those concepts are currently dead because I am unable to construct them.

Would appreciate your thoughts on this! Thanks.


A MS in computer science is not something I’d recommend. You’d be on the verge of becoming the most hated of PMs: the PM who believes s/he can build the best solution.

Of all the strongest PM’s I’ve known, it was not their technical expertise that made them better. It was their capacity to understand the demands of their clients, find the chances to productize those needs in a way that produces actual value, and communicate that productized answer to a team of professionals who could deliver it.

Keep in mind that PMs specify the Why and the What. Your experts deliver the How.


On the plus side, though, he or she would likely be well-positioned to succeed the current CTO if they had an MS in Computer Science and a strong history in goods or businesses.

If you can get an MS in computer science, go for it. That is not at all a straightforward degree, and I have observed two primary paths: one that concentrates more IT Management and another that emphasises more rigorous theoretical notions in computer science (such, for instance, machine learning). Don’t settle for mediocrity out of concern that people won’t like you.


If CTO is the goal, then:

  • Why are you a product manager? product manager is the path to CEO/CMO/CPO
  • A MS in CIS would be better than an MS in CS

Yes, I would concentrate on business if your aim is to manage your own startup and your goal is to produce an MVP. Even if you can only afford a year off, why not start working on this goal right away? The best project managers I’ve worked with were distinguished by their “soft” abilities, including leadership, discretion, communication, and empathy. Although computer science is important, that is not where you would go to learn these more advanced skills.


Whether you are technical or not, you are a PM first. Technical know-how is always advantageous, but if you find yourself coding as a PM, you should consider how effectively you are using your time and value.

Get a tech cofounder (if you can’t, that says a lot about your soft or selling talents) or hire a dev house are two options if your ultimate goal is merely to bring your ideas to live. It might be better to build it yourself, but in my opinion, you should spend your time making sure the correct product is made and let someone who is far more qualified handle the construction process.


Totally agree with this. While their peers in other teams feel that they are absolutely weak in system design and user testing, some of the other PMs at my firm spend HOURS performing SQL queries and analysing split tests. Analysts that we currently underutilize might complete this work concurrently.


I’d advise taking a beginner’s course on Coursera, Treehouse, Pluralsight, or any of the hundreds of MOOCs available if you’ve never programmed before. To better grasp how software functions and anything relevant to your specific field, you might read one or two high-level books. I think you can stop there if you want to be technically proficient. Read Hacker News, High Scalability, and/or listen to relevant episodes of Software Engineering Radio to keep current.

The ability to recognise new opportunities brought about by technological advancements is crucial for a PM. It’s also crucial to keep in mind that you offer the why, what (and when), and the specialists deliver the how, as other people have mentioned. However, understanding the “how” a little bit better will benefit you in the following ways:

  1. Know new how’s open up
  2. Aid your team’s communication
  3. Aid you in recognizing when you are stepping into the how
  4. Knowing how software is delivered will help you identify any potential vulnerabilities in a team and who you need to enlist for support if you ever find yourself working with a team that isn’t doing well.

Any book/course recommendations for a high-level understanding of how software works? I’ve looked into some coding courses, but I’m mostly looking to strengthen my knowledge of software deployment.


Totally, in three categories:

  1. Coding
    A fantastic “reset” on the principles of how code functions is provided by Code by Petzold. If you want to delve a little deeper and learn a little bit of coding, try Cs50 at engaged in a powerful way. Eloquent JavaScript comes highly recommended if you want to delve even little deeper and enjoy working from a book.

  2. Deployment
    The Phoenix project is a software deployment implementation of The Goal in a narrative fashion. Although it is a little antiquated, Continuous Delivery by Humble and Farley offers a very thorough explanation of CD’s how and why.

  3. Tech
    Weekly piece from high scalability entitled "Things the Internet Says on Scalability."It’s great. usually quite humorous and diverse. The radio podcasts from IEEE on software engineering are frequently quite detailed and approachable. Pick previous episodes from CDs, Docker containers, Kubernetes, etc.


MVP at a startup? MVP of a product in a portfolio at a bigger company?

Startup suggests you will be the only PM in the startup so business learnings may be more helpful – though you will need a strong product focused head engineer that you trust to make the appropriate tradeoff decisions.


Right now, improving at your current job is the best thing you can do. Make the items for which you are currently accountable extremely successful. You will discover more about your interests if you do that. On your team, meet the obvious needs. Establish connections with potential funders and co-founders. Being able to draw in and keep great talent is the startup CEO’s most crucial competency. Launching your startup will be considerably simpler if you have a track record of success as a PM.


Thanks for all of the informative comments on this thread team! I’m working my way through a thought process of whether I should try to transition to a more product focused role internally or find it at a different company. This really helped put things into perspective for me so thank you for all of your contributions - keep it up!

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Thank you all for your valuable insights. Really appreciate the time you’ve taken to post. Thanks once again.