Best product management courses

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There is a range of product management training options available and it can be difficult to decide which to choose. Use the following to help decide the best option for you.

The first thing to consider is whether you want to attend a classroom-based course or take online training.

Classroom-based training

is a great way of making sure you dedicate some time away from your desk and the distractions of the office. As you’re there with other people you get to take part in discussions, ask questions and work on group exercises together. The interaction with the presenter and other delegates is a large and important part of the learning experience. This is the most focused, engaging and effective training you can have.

Online courses

are delivered as videos and presentations over the web along with downloadable notes. It’s cheaper and more convenient than attending a classroom-based course and is a good way of quickly getting up-to-speed on a specific topic. However, compared to face-to-face training it offers less interaction which can make it difficult to focus and is a less engaging training experience.

If you’ve decided on classroom-based training the next question is whether to attend a public course or run a private course.

A public course

is one that anyone can attend. If you’re looking for a course just for you it’s the only option. Part of the attraction is the opportunity to network and share experiences with product managers from different companies.

A private course

is one that is run for just one company. The course material can be tailored to focus on specific business issues – and it keeps things confidential. It’s a great way of getting a team together, talking the same language and doing some dedicated work on product management. However, usually, you need 6 or more delegates for it to be a cost-effective option.

When choosing the company for your training you should consider the following:-

Industry focus

Choose a company that specializes in your industry. The course material will be much more relevant and you will get more from sharing experiences and networking with the other delegates.

Location and venue

Make sure it’s easy to get to and there is a good choice of hotels (it’s a bonus if it’s somewhere you’d like to go anyway!). Also, make sure the venue is conducive to a great learning experience. Is it purpose designed, with airy rooms and good food? You don’t want to be stuck in a hotel basement with no windows and strip lighting for 3 days.

Value for money

Does the course cover everything you need now and in the foreseeable future? Some training companies split product management into various parts so you need to attend a series of courses to get the full picture. This can be expensive and time-consuming.

Credibility of the training company

Have they been around for some time? Is their focus purely on product management? Are they active in the industry doing research, publishing articles and Journals? Is there good, believable, client feedback on their website?

Certification

Does the course have an exam and offer certification? This is something you can mention in your CV. It also shows colleagues and employers your commitment to ongoing professional development.

Experience of presenters

It’s important that the presenters have done the job themselves and have a wide range of experience across the industry. Are the presenters up to date – do they still work in product management today?

Course philosophy

Some companies focus on the theoretical and are formulaic in their approach to product management. It’s their way or it’s the wrong way. Others focus on the practical application of a range of best practice tools, ideas, and approaches. You need to decide which is most useful for you.

Presenter to delegate ratio

Once you have more than around 14 people in a classroom the dynamics change. There is less time for each delegate and some people struggle to fully engage. Some training companies try to pack as many people as possible onto their courses while others have strict limits on the number of attendees. You should ask about this.

Andrew Dickenson
Director, Product Focus

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