Product management looks very different today than it did five, ten, and certainly fifteen years ago. “No code, low code” tools, in particular, have entered the tech industry and turned it upside down!
With the birth of “no code” development, tech empires and companies are now being built without technical coding skills. Makerpad is a great example of a product that practices what it preaches: it’s a no-code platform advancing the no-code movement, built on its own no-code stack.
For product managers, no code/low code opens up opportunities to build apps and new processes without writing, testing, and researching new scripts. And this brings up some hotly-debated questions: is coding a product management skill of the past? Was it ever a necessity? Can a product manager get by and build successful products with no code/low code tools?
The short answer to this is: yes! A talented product manager can without a doubt do their job without writing a single line of code. In fact, 95% of them do. You'll be just fine if you’ve got the right mindset and all the other product management skills.
No code/low code tools can be immensely helpful for non-technical product managers.
But whether they can entirely replace a product manager’s need for technical support is another point entirely.
No code/low code tools are usually used to develop applications that handle simple functions — applications that are essential to an organization’s or business’s core systems, both internally and outward-facing. No code/low code platforms offer reusable actions, templates, and visual editors that users can drag and drop into processes for fast product development.
What are no code/low code tools capable of building? Check out the following for inspiration:
eCommerce sites and marketplaces
Social and messaging tools
Scheduling and project management workflows
Customer relationship management platforms
But, the limitations of no code/low code tools start to show as you approach the edge. If your product requires a unique workflow (for which no template exists today) or you need to build in specific business logic, then you’ll find the no-code movement too rigid for your needs.
And it’s in these use cases that product managers who are technically articulate start to shine.
Though you won’t necessarily be required to code, a basic comprehension of programming languages is a massive advantage in the tech industry. SQL, Python, C#, HTML, and CSS are crucial for product managers because they’re usually used to create tech products.
Understanding the basics of coding allows product managers to effectively communicate with software engineers and developers. It’s also a plus when you need to suggest or implement minor code changes.
With a technical understanding of coding and development, a product manager can make informed decisions on the languages to use in their products. They can also understand the possibilities and limitations of coding and what they ask their development team to do.
Are you a non-technical PM looking to upskill? Here are three ways to learn more about the technical side of product management and development — and the role that no code/low code tools can play!
Funnily enough, no code/low code tools can actually help less-technical product managers develop their technical skills.
No code platforms teach the basic logic of digital development. Sure, it’s a vastly simplified way of looking at frameworks and stacks, but it can help warm a non-technical product manager up to the development way of thinking. Once comfortable in a no code space, PMs can then graduate to low code too. Unlike no code, low code tools require a significant understanding of basic programming code — offering a step-by-step way of learning coding basics.
The product manager is in charge of finding solutions when issues arise. And if you’re not technical savvy, you won’t be able to find reliable solutions and lead your developers effectively.
Set up introductory sessions with the development team. Gather all the tools and learn the programming languages used in the organization. Remember, you don’t need to be a pro developer — you simply need a frame of reference and to be familiar enough with the workflows to help troubleshoot and push the product forward.
Once you’ve progressed through tips 1 and 2, you’ll now be ready to put your newfound coding knowledge to the test. Not all product managers will need to do so, but there are specific roles that require a higher level of technical knowledge — applicants can even be required to have a CS degree or a hands-on engineering background.
The best coding courses include:
There are many, many more, and the type of course that suits your product specialism best may change from team to team. Why not ask your developers where and how they learned to code and go from there?
No code/low code tools have helped democratize and open up the world of product development. But, as it stands today, the no code movement can only get product teams so far.
Product managers still need developers and software engineers to help bring exceptional products to the market. So, when it comes to whether product managers should learn how to code or not, the simple answer is: it depends. Consider the ideal trajectory of your product management career, look for opportunities to better support your development team, and if it makes sense to you — and you think it would be fun! — then, you can certainly learn to code, starting with low code tools.
And as you advance through your product management journey, keep following along with the airfocus blog. We’re product managers writing and building for other product managers.