Topic outline

  • NB! The last lecture is online. Join with the zoom link (below)

    In this introductory course on product management (3 ETCS), you will learn what it takes to create and manage products from everyday operations to high-level planning, forming a product vision. The course is designed as an introduction to anyone looking into or interested in creating exceptional products – whether you’re an aspiring founder looking to productize your idea, or an individual interested in getting to know the diverse field of product management. The course has been created in collaboration with product managers from a variety of Finnish product-led companies f.ex. from Wolt, Varjo, Hoxhunt, Oura, and Unity.

    • url icon
      Zoom-link for the lectures URL
      Not available unless: Your User account contains (use: is
  • Basics of taking and completing the course
    • The course is open for all, but assumes familiarity with business concepts, especially related to business development
    • The course consists of 12 lectures and 6 weekly assignments
    • Lectures are on Tuesdays and Fridays 12.15-14.00, at campus (except the first lecture on Monday Sept 5th). Lectures are recorded and available in MyCourses also for later viewing.
    • Assignments become available on Mondays of each week, and the DL is the following Monday
    • You can reach course personnel through
    • Key reading are: 
      • Perri, Melissa. Escaping the Build Trap : How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value . First edition. Beijing: O’Reilly, 2019. Available online in Aalto
      • Cagan, Marty. Inspired : How the Best Companies Create Technology-Powered Products and Services . Second edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2018. Available online in Aalto


    The course is designed as an introduction to product management to aspiring founders, to those that have interest in exploring a career in PM, and to those looking to work in growth companies in a role overlapping with product management, such as software development, design, business development or marketing. 

    Learning objectives: The course provides an introduction to the product leadership in software startups / scaleup firms. After the course, student is able to 

    • Identify the domain of product management and how it relates it to design, business development, product development, and other connected domains 
    • Understand how product management - both as a function and as a professional role - contributes to the integration of customer needs, business development, and product development in a growth-oriented technology company
    • Understand how the three key areas (customer, business, development) vary in different business models and at different stages of growth, and how it affects the role of product management
    • Identify and use the key concepts of product management
    Prerequisites: The course is targeted to MSc-level and advanced BSc-level student with basic familiarity business and management, e.g. BSc-level minor in Industrial Engineering & Management.

    Grading system

    The course is graded on a scale of 0-5. Grading is based on points: Each lecture attendance (or later viewing) equals one point, each completed assignment equals two points (or less, if late or iterated). It takes 12 points (50% of all) to pass with grade of 1, 23+ points equals grade 5.

    • Each lecture equals one point. A lecture is counted as attended if you are either present on the online lecture or view the recording of the lecture afterwards through Panopto. Verifying the attendance (zoom or recording) is based on logs. We do not sum up participation and viewings for one lecture from different sources, so make sure that either one you use, you follow it through.
    • Each assignment equals two points. Each completed assignment, submitted successfully and in time, awards two points. If the initial submission is not of sufficient quality, you'll have until Friday of the same week to revise your submission. The revised submission is evaluated with points 0, 1 or 2, depending on the quality. If you submit late, the maximum points available that week is one (with no possibility to resubmit if failed).

    The points from lectures and assignments count towards a grade. Maximum number of points is 24 and to pass with grade 1, you need 12 points. The grading is based the following scale:

    Grade   Points needed

      1                12-14

      2                15-17

      3                18-20

      4                21-22

      5                23-24

    Including the course in studies/programs

    The course can be selected as part of the elective studies to any Aalto student, but also part of the major/track in the following programs:

    • Product Management Minor: Course is an alternative for the broader TU-5040 Product Management
    • Information networks (MSc & BSc): Course can be included in the major/track as an optional course.
    • Industrial Engineering and Management (MSc): Course can be included in the major as an optional course (note the overlap with TU-5040)
    • Software and Service Engineering / CCIS (MSc): Course can be included in the major 
    • Information and Service Management (MSc): Course can be included to optional courses

    Others: If you have a good case of why this course should be part of your major / track, let us know. We can help!

  • Topics & Speakers
    The first week focuses on introducing the field of product management as a field, a function, and a role:
    1. What is Product Management by Marko Oksanen (CEO, Coventures)
    2. Role of Product Manager by Kaisa Salakka (Consumer Product, Wolt)


    Key readings on the matter of the week:

    The first assignment consists of identifying typical product management roles, as well as finding, analyzing and reporting the competence profiles of different product management roles. Deliver results as a single pdf-file: the first page containthe illustration, the second page detailthe sources.

  • Topics & Speakers
    From the second week on, we focus on the key interfaces of product management. First of these takes a look towards users and customers and asks 
    1. Who are the customers, anyway, and how to talk to them? by Udo Szabo (Supermetrics)
    2. How design & PM work together? by Terhi Hänninen (Product Manager, Google) & Pekka Poukamo (Head of Design, Relex)


      The two books - Perri's Build trap and Cagan's Inspired - are organised with somewhat different structures than the course, and this week direct matches between the chapters and the course are harder to draw. However, both discuss the matters of the week in multiple chapters, these segments just take some work to find.

      Accordingly, the more direct readings for the week are based on articles/blogs curated by this weeks experts. 

    For a deeper dive, here's a how-to for talking with humans
    • Constable, G. Talking to humans, "practical guide to the qualitative side of customer development"
    Additionally, the following books / sources were often mentioned by experts while building the course:

    In the second assignment, the objective is to define user’s needs for an existing product using job-to-be-done framework and translating these to a new feature in a chose app.

  • Topics & Speakers

    The week 3 moves the focus of the discussion to the last remaining interface of product management, engineering (also often referred to as development). The week proceeds from the basics of organising development in a single-product setting, to prioritising development in more complex settings:
    1. Organizing Product Development by Otto Hilska (Founder & CEO, Swarmia)
    2. Prioritizing Development by Timo Tervola (Business & Operations Lead, Supercell)


    Similarly to week 2, the two books - Perri's and Cagan's - are shorter on content that has to do with engineering. As we have seen by now, the roles that PMs take, greatly vary according to the context, and the books focus on a quite business (and team leadership) oriented approach to PM role.

    The little that is covered can be found from 

    • Cagan (Inspired): Ch 28-32
    • Also, Cagan's "Empowered" addresses these aspect in part 5.

    A widely recommended book on development (not the easiest read, though):

    • Reinertsen, D. "The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development", 2009, Celeritas Publishing

    Reading suggestions from the lectures

    (will be updated to include reading tips from the lectures)

    In the third assignment, you will continue with the feature you proposed in assignment 2, and define the first slice(s) that development should address. 

  • Topics & Speakers
    The fourth week continues on the key interfaces of product management. After the user and development perspectives, this week turns our attention to the considerations that the markets and business models impose on the product management:
    1. What is business strategy, product strategy and how they differ? by Noora Ahmed-Moshe 
    2. An aspiring product manager’s primer to business understanding by Kosti Lepojärvi


    Key readings on the matter of the week:

    • Perri (Build trap): Ch. 10-14
    • Cagan (Inspired): Ch 22-27, (also 1-9)
    • Rumelt, R. 2011 "The perils of bad strategy" on McKinsey Quarterly
    • (Also, Cagan's Empowered addresses these aspect in parts 4 & 6)

    This is the one book you do need to read on strategy:

    Additional readings and links


    In the fourth assignment, the objective is learn to identify characteristics of good strategic thinking and signs of great product strategy from a case study.

  • Topics & Speakers
    The week 5 starts the last part of the course. The focus returns from the interface to the role of product manager. The prior weeks have already provided a lot of content that structure the field of PM, but this week's lectures provide perspectives and metrics that are especially focal for PM.

    The week starts with descriptions of PM's role in organizations at different stage of development, followed by a set of tools and metrics that PM's use to lead and monitor the development of a product.

    1. Leading products in startups and scale-ups by Osma Ahvenlampi (CPO, Aivo Health) and Heta Ruikka (VP of Product Management, Sievo)

    2. Product Metrics by Maria Petrova (Head of product, Supermetrics)  Marko Oksanen (CEO, Coventures)


    Key readings on the matter of the week:

    • Perri (Build trap): Ch. 15-19
    • Cagan (Inspired): Ch 33-63
    • Also, Cagan's Empowered addresses these aspect in part 9.

    The focus of the course returns to the specific role of product management, and the two remaining assignment reflect this as well as the ending of the course. The 5th assignment takes stock of the course so far. The objective of the task is to form an organising frame for the field of product management. The resulting frame should serve both as a map the topics covered during the course and as a map the product management more generally.
  • Topics & Speakers
    The sixth and final week wraps the course up by taking a higher ground. The week starts by taking an evaluative look at the PM function and considering how to assess how well PM is doing what is should. The last session then turns eyes to future, both in terms of the field and personal careers in it:
    1. Organizing product management PM Tiina Nieminen (Head of Product Management, Services and Solutions R&D, KONE) 
    2. PM across industries with Surbhi Marwas (Zalando), Matias Pietilä (Newil&Bau), Tommi Ylinen (Relex), and Tiina Nieminen.


    Key readings on the matter of the week:

    • Perri (Build trap): Ch. 20-25
    • Cagan (Inspired): Ch 64-67
    • Also, Cagan's Empowered addresses these aspect in part 7 and 10

    The last assignment goes meta and provides you with the task of managing your product management skills as a product. The objective is to the approach your skills and knowhow in product management as a product, and apply the concepts, perspectives, and tools of product management to it. 

  • Purpose and style
    The course includes six assignments, one each week. Each assignment ties to the theme of the week, typically asking you to apply or deepen the concepts. Completing the assignment requires familiarising with weekly readings and lectures and also to materials addressing specifically the aspects of the assignment.

    In addition to refining the course concepts, the assignment are designed to hone your skills in concise and informative visual presentation. Assignments contain usually multiple elements and steps that are essential to the completion. However, the results are (typically) presented as a single graph, figure, or illustration. For this excel and powerpoint are to large extent sufficient tools, but feel free to use what ever tools with which you can produce the desired outputs.

    Submission and grading

    Assignments become available on Mondays each week (at 7:00 AM), and the DL for each assignment is the following Monday (23:59 PM) NB! The DL is strict. Assignments are checked by the Wednesday, 16:00.

    None of the assignment is required, but each completed assignment is worth 2 points in course grading. 

    Assignment are evaluated with pass/fail: If assignment is completed, it's a pass, and you get two points toward your grade.

    Failed assignments can be resubmitted: If the assignment doesn't pass on first try, it can be resubmitted by next Friday, 23:59. Resubmitted assignments are graded on scale 0/1/2, depending on the quality of your revisions.

    Late submissions: If the assignment is late less than 24 hours, the maximum available points for the assignment is reduced to one. After this, the assignment is not graded at all. Also, with late submissions there's no second chance to resubmit if failed. What counts, is the recorded timestamp of the submission in MyCourses, with no exceptions.

  • Readings
    The key reading are: 
    • Perri, Melissa. Escaping the Build Trap : How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value . First edition. Beijing: O’Reilly, 2019. Available online in Aalto
    • Cagan, Marty. Inspired : How the Best Companies Create Technology-Powered Products and Services . Second edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2018. Available online in Aalto
    Both books provide roughly the same type of content and perspective on product management. Perri provides somewhat more coherent narrative, but Cagan is also useful on many individual points

    Additional sources include (list will be updated during the course): 
    • Cagan, Marty, Jones, Chris. Empowered: Ordinary people, extraordinary products. Wiley, 2020. Can be found form O'Reilly's online materials, accessible for Aalto-users.
    • ...

    In terms of weekly topics, the following 

    WeekPerri: Build trapCagan: InspiredCagan: Empowered
    11-910-21 (1-9)
    2(covered in multiple chapters)(covered in multiple chapters)
    310-1422-27parts 4 & 6
    428-32part 5
    515-1933-63Part 9
    620-2564-67Parts 7 & 10