Advice and best practices for writing SOPs, training for product launch, outsourcing technical documentation, and more.

6 Key Project Management Skills for Product Managers

project-management-skillsGood product managers are continuously looking to looking for opportunities to improve their skills, for themselves and their teams. One of the most important areas for a product manager to develop knowledge is on documentation project management.

For the most part, smaller documentation projects can be easily managed and completed. Typically, smaller projects will be short termed and their requirements will be spelled out by a technical documentation manager or, in the case of outsourced projects, by the Statement of Work that accompanies the project request.

However, larger technical documentation projects benefit greatly from strong project management skills from an experienced product manager.

Experienced product managers know how to...

  • Clarify the goals of a documentation project
  • Identify the right audience
  • Confirm the scope and deadlines
  • Be aware of the budget
  • Identify all regulations and standards to be followed
  • Identify and work with the subject matter experts
  • Develop their documentation work plan and monitor it regularly
  • Be aware of scope creep
  • Support the needs of their technical writers

Missed deadlines are a documentation nightmare. When a technical documentation team misses its deadline, it’s often because of a breakdown in time management, prioritization, and/or communication. Successful product managers who want to add the most value to their technical documentation projects need to hone their skills associated with these three areas.

Top 6 Skills for a Successful Documentation Project

After learning how to estimate a technical writing project, product managers should focus on the areas listed below to increase their value and visibility in documentation projects.

1. Strong time management skills. A product manager who is practices good time management has the ability to properly prioritize project tasks, allowing them to keep the team on track to meet their assigned deadlines. The ability to meet deadlines shows capability and reliability.

 For more help keeping your documentation project on schedule, download our Project Task Schedule.

2. Excellent organizational skills. Without proficiency in this skill set, there’s no way a product manager could get all of their "to dos" done, much less get them done on time. The more organized you are at work, the easier it will be to manage projects, schedules, and people.

3. Effective communication skills. Every team member and all stakeholders need to be in the loop. Regular communication with the project team helps product managers to better set priorities, remain accountable, learn important information and skills related to the project, and effectively manage time. Successful product managers establish a reporting plan at the beginning of each project to give the technical writers guidance and ensure there are no surprises.

4. Problem solving abilities. In an ideal world, all projects are completed as planned without a hitch. But as we all know, that's quite unlikely. To move forward on a documentation strategy when unexpected issues arise, such as scope creep, good product managers who take a creative approach to problem solving can use this opportunity to display their leadership skills to others on the team.

5. Fair team player. Being a team player means being willing and able to work with others in a collaborative manner. In addition to effectively managing a technical documentation project, good product managers also recognize the strengths of their documentation team and are seen as someone who can be counted on to deliver on their project responsibilities.

6. Positive attitude. Having a positive attitude about the work you're doing makes it easier to achieve the goals and objectives you have set. A positive attitude not only goes a long way to assist you if your career if you need to adjust your path, but being positive can also help motivate your team. 

Want to learn more about ensuring a successful project outcome?

Download our free Sample Project Management Checklist


Topics: technical writing, technical writer