Future-proof your role: How to keep up with the latest engineering & PM best practices
🦃 I love any excuse to bring my family and friends together, but Thanksgiving is extra special! It's a reminder the grass will always be greener on the other side but happiness comes from choosing to be satisfied and thankful for what you already have. So here's to wishing you happiness and you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!
Welcome to my monthly newsletter. I'm an experienced software engineer, a tech mentor to product managers, and the founder of Skiplevel. Every month I share:
- technical skills and knowledge you should know
- tips for working with and collaborating with dev teams
- tips for non-engineers struggling with confidence in technology
- tips for managers looking to build a more technically literate team
Ask me anything (yep, anything) and I'll cover it in an upcoming newsletter issue!
Q: How do I future-proof my role as a PM to ensure that my capabilities/contributions are keeping up with the evolving best practices in engineering and expectations of my PM role?
Asked by Business Development (BizDev) Director @ Brillio
Well, first things first, let’s define “future-proof” to mean taking extra steps to prepare yourself for a changing workforce, especially one where we’re increasingly reliant on technology and software. In relation to the PM role and working with engineering, this means taking steps to improve in two broad areas:
(1) Your technical fluency (knowledge and skills) as it pertains to best practices in engineering now and in the future
(2) Your ability to work well with and meet developer’s expectations of you as a product manager (or anyone that needs to communicate with devs)
There’s no magic bullet for improving your technical fluency and keeping up with the latest tech trends all at once. You simply don’t have access to the same level of exposure to building software as devs do. And even for devs, keeping up with the latest tech trends is like playing a game of whack-a-mole. Technology simply evolves too fast.
So what’s the magic sauce? How should you approach future-proofing?
First, ditch the mindset that you need to be 100% kept up with and aware of the latest tech trends and best engineering practices at all times. Technology is too complex and moves too fast for that to be a realistic goal.
Ok, now that the pressure is off, you should approach future-proofing your PM skills as it relates to engineering in two ways: keep up with news happening in the industry through external sources, and through personal support from someone in engineering.
- External sources: Keep an eye on new terms, tools, and tech trends in convenient and digestible ways via social media (most notably twitter), tech & PM newsletters and using content aggregator tools like SS feeds.
- Personal support: Get 1-on-1 support through cross-functional tech mentorship and an open line of communication. This is the best way to stay up-to-date with what devs expect of you as their PM.
Keep an eye on best practices & tech trends via convenient, digestible bits of information
Keeping an eye on trends means you need access to what’s going on in software. There’s lots of ways to do this, like attending popular tech conferences, signing up for newsletters, reading tech news websites, etc.. but these options can be overwhelming and time and energy intensive.
The key is to consume content in a convenient and digestible way. Here are some super easy ways to do that:
(1) Follow tech leaders and communities on Twitter
If you’re not on Twitter, get on Twitter. Twitter is a content-rich, convenient place to keep up with the latest and greatest in software from leaders in the field. You don’t have to post if you don’t want to–it’s perfectly fine to just lurk.
Carve out an hour of your time to follow PM & dev leaders and communities on Twitter. I tweet regularly about tech knowledge for PMs at @iamireneyu. I also suggest following the Product Twitter community, and the Tech Twitter Community to start. Browse around and search for folks and communities that interest you.
Other social media platforms like LinkedIn have great content from tech leaders as well, but I like how Twitter’s content is much more digestible due to the tweet character count limit.
(2) Save, highlight, and re-visit valuable content using a tool like Readwise
Pro-tip: Use Readwise to quickly save and aggregate Tweet content you find interesting. All you have to do is comment “@readwise save thread” on a tweet or thread that you like and it’ll automatically save it to your Readwise dashboard.
Readwise will surface your best highlights back to you at the right times, and let you review them every day with the daily email and app. You can even tag content with “PM” or “Engineering” so you can easily find past content when you need it.
This is a great way to keep up with evolving best practices in engineering and product management by keeping everything in one place!
Note: There are other Twitter aggregator tools out there like Save To Notion, so pick one that suits your needs best!
Got a question? Ask me anything & I'll cover it in an upcoming issue!
This month's Tech Term You Should Know:
SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS represent the three different ways to describe how companies can use the cloud for their business.
SaaS (Software as a Service): The most popular "as-a-service", SaaS products are apps hosted on the cloud. SaaS companies create products for both the end consumer (you and me), and businesses.
PaaS (Platform as a Service): PaaS products provide tools that allow businesses and developers to host, build, and deploy apps. PaaS is not a service that you and I would pay for, but SaaS companies would use them to easily create SaaS apps that we consume.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): IaaS products are created for businesses/orgs to manage their infrastructure resources — such as their network, servers, and data storage — on the cloud. This is super low-level tech stuff that we as consumers don't see, but are completely necessary for building all the software we enjoy on a daily basis.
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Missed the mid-month PM & Tech Jobs Newsletter?
Looking for a new PM role? My team and I decided to create a shorter newsletter issued twice a month with a list product role job listings from senior to entry-level roles.