Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

5 Reasons Why Product Managers Should Learn to Code

1 min read

product manager learn to code

If you’re a product manager (or in a role where you manage a web development team) you need to know, at the very least, the coding fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Here are 5 ways product managers waste money by not knowing how to code:

1. You have to ask your developer to make every little change

How to edit HTML and CSS on your site

“Hey Tom, can I see the text in Red?” “Blue?” “Green?” “Honey Yellow?”If you knew just a little bit of code you might be able to update some basics HTML or CSS (it’s not that difficult).

Every product manager should at least know the basics of using Chrome’s Web Inspector (it’s a tool that will save you and your developer a lot of back-and-forth time on revisions). How long does it take to learn the basics of HTML & CSS? Everything I’m showing you here you should be able to learn within the first 5 hours (or so) of learning to code HTML & CSS.

2. You hire the wrong people

Learn to code and make better hiring decisions

3. You chose the wrong language for your project!

“Should we use CSS, XML, SSL, or CMS?” If you don’t know the basics of coding, they all look the same.

Unfortunately, if you start coding a project in PHP and then, months later, want to change it to Python you’re going to be stuck rewriting all of the code. That’s inconvenient and expensive. Being able to choose the right programming language for your project is important for anyone managing a team of developers.

4. It takes 30 minutes to understand basic coding concepts

If you don’t know the basics of coding, you’ll often get sidetracked trying to make sense of the most basic coding concepts.

What you might not know is that there are 10 coding concepts that are the same in every programming language. The four most common concepts are variables, comments, conditionals, and functions. If you understand how to use these concepts in Python, then you can easily read and write similar code in Ruby, JavaScript, Java, or PHP.

In my Programming for Non-Programmers course, I break each of these concepts down so that product managers can speak more confidently about programming.

5. You can’t properly estimate a project

In programming, it can be hard to explain the difference between the easy, and the virtually impossible. Knowing how to code makes that easier, and saves money. 

estimating web development rates

During my career, I’ve watched managers waste tens of thousands of dollars due to mismanaged developers and poor technology choices. I’m sure you’d like to save some money, and learning to code helps project managers manage better. It makes team leaders more confident, and it makes you look more attractive (…as a hire…). Now go get ‘em!

Learn to Code Comment Avatar
Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.