Product Management Certification
Product management certification is an investment in your career and shows you’re serious about your professional development.
The Product Focus certification covers the full range of product management and product marketing disciplines. It focuses on how to apply best practice tools and approaches in real-world situations.
As a product manager, it builds confidence and credibility with peers, managers, and employers. As a company, it shows you care about your employee’s professional development and that they’ve reached a certain standard.
Candidates who pass our exam become a Product Focus Certified Product Manager.
Product Manager Certification Explained
There is no standard professional certification for product managers. Different training companies have their own approach. Ours focuses on what matters to product managers and product marketers – are they able to apply what they’ve learned in realistic situations?
Employers increasingly recognize the qualification and ask us to confirm that potential employees have been certified.
The qualification also means a lot to many product managers.
“Thank you for your email letting me know I passed the exam. It gave me a big, happy start to my work day! The exam questions really made me think about the answers, and doing that reminded me how much I learned and enjoyed the training course.”
Trupti Kulkarni, Product Manager, DANTE (now GÉANT)
“I was up very late finishing my exam and the message was that the results would be sent in three weeks’ time. I was preparing myself to contain the nervous anticipation and so your email this morning was the best start I could ask for! Thank you for your support. Needless to say, I am thoroughly satisfied with the entire experience. It was useful, engaging and very efficient!”
Kavya Manjari, Product Focus Certified Product Manager, HTI8
In addition, they can use the unique Product Focus Certified Product Manager logo in their email signature, LinkedIn profile and professional biography.
Authorized training courses
Our 3-day Product Management and Product Marketing for technology-based products training course is authorized for certification. Anyone who attends our public 3-day course is automatically eligible to take the exam free of charge.
Many of our private training courses are also authorized for certification although there may be a charge to take the exam. If you are uncertain, please get in touch.
Certification process (if you’re taking the exam)
All the material in the exam is covered in our 3-day course and Product Management Journals. The exam is taken online after the course has finished. It’s open-book so you can use your course notes and the Journals as reference material.
After the course, you will be emailed a unique code to access the exam. It should take about 90 minutes to complete. You can take the exam at your convenience but it must be completed within 3 weeks.
Marking the exam can take up to 2 weeks and you will be emailed your result. If you fail you are allowed to retake the exam free of charge one additional time. The pass/fail decision is final and to protect the integrity of the exam we will not provide correct answers or recommend areas for improvement.
Understanding training requirements
To understand the training that product managers and product marketers need to be effective it can be useful to use the 2×2 matrix shown below. It examines the knowledge and skills required to do the job.
Product managers need specific knowledge about their product area to be able to make decisions (Box A). They need to understand the customers, technology, competitors, and markets relevant to them. Because this is unique to each role it’s typically picked up ‘on-the-job’ by talking to colleagues, customers, and suppliers, by attending conferences and from research.
Product managers also need to know about the general product management and product marketing skills, strategies and tactics that are successfully used in technology companies (Box C). These tools help them decide what to do. This is the focus of most product management training courses and our product manager certification.
However to get things done product managers also need to know the processes, structure, governance and appropriate contacts in their organization (Box B). This knowledge is specific to each company and is picked up on the job e.g. how the development process works.
Finally, product managers need to have the generic skills to get things done (Box D). They have to be able to project manage, lead teams, influence, and present. Many training providers teach these ‘soft skills’ and in larger companies, in-house training is often an option.
Public courses vs private onsite training?
So what’s the difference? A public course is one that anyone can attend and is put on by a training provider at a particular venue on a specific date. Part of the attraction is the opportunity to network and share experiences with product managers from different companies. It’s the only option if you’re looking for a course for fewer than 6 people.
A private on-site or in-house course is one that is run for a single company. This means the course material can be tailored to focus on specific business issues – and it keeps things confidential. It’s a great way of bringing the team together, getting them talking the same language and working on some of the product management challenges at your company. However, usually, you need 6 or more delegates for it to be cost-effective and to achieve a good level of interaction and discussion.
Both options can offer product management certification.
Training Provider Assessment Checklist
You only have one shot at attending a course or running training for your team so choosing the right provider is really important. Price may be the most visible factor but choosing solely on price risks wasting time and money on a poor quality experience.
We’ve proposed a list of things to consider below. Decide which are important for you and then rate potential providers to see how they score.
|Training provider checklist|
|1||Certification||Is it an option? A certification shows delegates have attained a certain level of knowledge and is good for their CV. Revising for an exam helps embed what's been taught.|
|2||Content||Does the course cover all the areas you need now and in the future?|
|3||Course maturity||Is the course well-established and has it been honed and improved over many deliveries? Are the instructors experienced in delivering it?|
|4||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 how to apply a range of tools, ideas and approaches. You need to decide which is the most useful for you.|
|5||Course style||Does the provider talk about the style of delivery? Will it be 'death by PowerPoint' or will it be lots of interaction, exercises and discussion to keep you enthused and engaged?|
|6||Credibility||Has the training provider been around for some time? Is their focus purely product management and product marketing? Are they active in the industry doing research and publishing articles? Do they have independent reviews of their performance – the sort of thing you can see on our website?|
|7||Flexibility||You might have specific objectives not met by off-the-shelf training. In a private on-site course or workshop is your provider willing to change things to focus on what's important to you? Do they have a library of content and exercises they can use to create a tailored course?|
|8||Instructor to delegate ratio||Once you have more than around 14 people in a classroom there is less time for each delegate and some people struggle to fully engage. Some training companies try to pack in as many people as possible while others have strict limits on the number of attendees.|
|9||Instructors||It's important that the instructors have done the job themselves and have a wide range of experience they can bring to the course. Are the instructors up to date? Do they still work in product management today?|
|10||Location||If you're running an onsite course you can make sure the location suits the team. If you're attending a public course, is it somewhere you can get to easily? Is there a good choice of hotels? It's a bonus if it's somewhere you'd like to go anyway!|
|11||Post-course follow-up||What else is offered following the training? Can you contact the instructor with questions? Is there an alumni group? Are there follow-on courses? With a private on-site course are there additional services available to help implement and embed what's been learned?|
|12||Relevance||Try to choose a provider that specializes in your industry or sector. The course materials and anecdotes will be more relevant and you will get more from discussions with other delegates.|
|13||Tools and templates||Does the course provide a soft copy of tools, templates and checklists that you can adapt and use once you are back at the office?|
|14||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 whole series of courses to get the full picture - which can be expensive and time-consuming.|
|15||Venue||Is the venue 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 for 3 days!|