How to become more tech literate?

I am interviewing for a PM role with a big company that is late to the e-commerce game and it looks promising. I have got the people skills down but I need advice on the tech side. Where do I find resources on necessary skills and ways to advance them? Any advice is appreciated!

To be an effective Product Manager that builds a software product you need to be technical. Not only do you need to be able to speak your engineer’s language, but you need to know the floors and ceilings of what they can deliver. You need to be in lockstep with engineers and designers especially in the early stages of a product or feature.

Now how do you get there? There are no real shortcuts. In reality, it’s going to take real-life experience, working with these folks to gain the true understanding you need to be optimally effective at your job.

For now, since you have this opportunity (congrats, and I commend you for acknowledging this) you need to catch up on a few things. You need to understand the basics of how your technical teams work and deliver and you need to understand the surface-level technical stack of your product.

First, go to someone you know in engineering and ask about their Agile methodology, do they run Scrum, Kanban, Lean? It’s a pretty common question. Find out how long their sprints are. Then go read up on whatever they answer with. It will keep you tactical and focused on your team’s technical process.

Then do research about your current product. Read documents to try to get an understanding of how this product is built. You’re looking for the tech stack. What are all the technical pieces that make up the product? You will likely have a back end, which could be in a language like JAVA, Node, PHP, etc. Then look to the front end, server architecture, etc… Then read up on all of those. It will keep you focused only on the stuff that matters to your situation. If what I’m saying is going over your head already then you need to step back and focus on the basics. The point here is that you just need to have some technical context, you don’t need to know how to build it, just how it’s built.

So first, note down how your technical people talk, the words you don’t understand, then start digging into those. Identify the tech jargon that is a part of the culture, learn what the jargon means, and then you’ll be able to at least have coherent conversations with your tech team.

I haven’t talked about the UX side which is technical in and of itself. Arguably you need even more focus on that end as it will make you even more effective as a product manager.

It will also help to be honest with people. “I’m trying to download everything and get ramped up on the tech so I can be more effective” will go a long way with anyone you talk to. Hope that helps!

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Excellent advice, thank you. I’ve noted some of this for my conversation with the manager.

I talked to some people about your points today, and they confirmed what I thought: we’re a mix of agile and waterfall, and don’t operate the way an actual tech company would. Seems like a great introduction into the field.

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