Product Management

What’s wrong with Product Management?

There’s so much that’s not right with product management. We made a list of the common problems, and came up with possible solutions for each.
Jacob Koshy
12 min to read

Out of the 30,000 new products launched every year, 95% of them fail to leave an impact on the market.

One of the reasons is that — product managers simply follow the same processes and repeat the old mistakes. Though product management differs from one organization to another.

Moreover, product managers need to be a ‘flash’ at communication, strategizing, managing, organizing, and much more. Thus, product managers need to level up their game and switch from traditional to more technology-driven methods.

There’s so much that’s not right with product management. We made a list of the common problems, and came up with possible solutions for each.

Too Many Calls to Handle

The product team and sales team of an organization rely too much on product managers. Most companies involve product managers on the sales call even at the early stage of acquisition.  

Definitely, a product manager knows more than anyone else about the product offerings, but they can’t always do the job that salespeople need to do.  

A product manager will be seen as the “demo guy” if they are involved in too many sales calls. Moreover, they will become a crutch for the salespeople who will have a hard time articulating the value provided by the product. Then there are the calls with engineering managers, marketing and so on. In short, you can never find a product manager without a calendar full of scheduled calls for weeks at a time.

What Can Be Done?

The best possible solution is to equip your sales team with sales training and provide them with an uber knowledge base.

The adoption of a sales enablement tool will result in better training, guidance and provide the sales team with the right content.  

By integrating the sales CRM or enablement tool with your product management workflow, you can brisk the process.

Releasing Too Many Features at Once

Most products fail because the product team is burdened with releasing too many features in a particular release.

Doing so would either result in missed deadlines or customer dissatisfaction.

Furthermore, it will derail the product roadmap leading to disruptions across various departments.

Even if you manage to release these features at the climax, the sales team will find it hard to provide the customers with the right assistance because of the lack of training.

What Can Be Done?

It’s always imperative to have a shorter release and provide better sales training to the sales reps about the new features.

Product managers should convince the stakeholders and Heads of Product as to why too many feature releases can prove to be a disaster. The cherry on the cake would be to do a beta release to sort quality issues initially.

Ignoring Customer Needs & Expectations

Customers should be paramount to any business. In 1970, AT&T launched the Picturephone.

The executives were of the impression that they will reach millions of units in production within 10 years. However, the company closed its unit production in 3 years because consumers didn’t show any interest.

So, what went wrong with the product?

First, the Picturephone was too bulky and less handy for the users. The interface was too complex from the beginning and the screen size was too small to enjoy long videos.

Above all, the pricing was too high to be accommodated by the general audience.

What Can Be Done?

The first thing that needs to be understood is the user persona.

  • What is your audience looking for?
  • How can your product help them?
  • What features are they missing in their current product?
  • How much are they willing to spend on your product?

Hence, it is important to set up a user persona to identify user behavior and goals. Put up a survey or a questionnaire to get insight into customer satisfaction and the features that will add the most value.

Lacking Intent for Competitive Research

You can be a market leader and still be beaten by a company that you have never heard of before.

For instance, Netflix being the most popular video streaming service stacks up against an underdog Hulu that has 43  mn subscribers in the US. The difference lies in the content and some functionalities that Hulu offers.

For example, Hulu offers live TV shows that Netflix may fail to offer at a higher price than the former.

Thus, a disrupted market needs a close watch on each of your competitors. You can spend hefty resources and expenditures on your product development. Perhaps build a large product team but will still fail if you haven’t done a solid competition analysis.

With time, your direct competitors will constantly evolve for their existing and new customers adopting unique features, providing innovations and changes in pricing.

As they evolve, your prospects will compare those pitches with yours and choose the more viable ones for them.

What Can Be Done?

Your competitors can be your indirect allies.

The first step is to identify your primary, secondary and adjacent competitors. Monitor their social media channels, forums and learn about their customers.

Create a realistic assessment of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses to define the market. You can use competitive analysis and research tools to build a list of different competitors and keep an eye on each.

By keeping a regular tab on your competitors, you can predict what they are going to look like in the future.

Heavy Operations and Tasks

With great responsibility comes great stress!

Product managers are always at the forefront of product creation. Product managers play a crucial part in training, onboarding, and empowering the existing product team to achieve product goals.

They are also answerable to the company executives and stakeholders and responsible for handling a team of engineers, UC designers, data scientists, and sales & marketing.

With so many responsibilities on their shoulders — and the focus on creating a product/market fit, they are likely to fail and quit.

What Can Be Done?

It’s true that being a product manager is a stressful job, but the freight can be reduced with planning and organization.

Using these organizational strategies, product managers can collaborate with various remote teams internally as well as externally.

By maintaining a workflow, the product managers can instill collaboration between different departments and bridge the communication gaps within.

Since 86% of the products fail because of the lack of collaboration, product managers should focus on bridging the communication gap between the teams.

Most PMs Are Doing Project Management

What most organizations fail to understand is the difference in roles and responsibilities of their PMs.

Product managers possess an extensive set of skills like domain knowledge, product knowledge, business skills, technical ability, communication and leadership skills, and so on.

With so many skills under their belt, product managers also sometimes undertake the role of project managers…

While this might work — you can’t expect product managers to always take up tasks like tracking deliverables & communication and delay their major responsibilities like tracking product goals, monitoring user needs, and aligning the stakeholders.

Also, aligning the product managers’ goals with the project managers’ will only cause delays and disorganization.

What Can Be Done?

Even if the company has a little bit of project management, it is always a good idea to hire a project manager for a short period of time or on a contract basis.

And If it’s product-related project management, the best way is to use a project management tool in tandem with a product management dashboard.

This way, product managers can track the progress of the ongoing projects and collaborate with project managers.

For instance, Zeda’s product management dashboard seamlessly syncs with project management tools like Jira, Trello, or Asana to efficiently manage features on the product roadmaps.

P.S. PMs can add or remove features and track the progress using a single dashboard.

No Central Location for Collaboration

Most often, the product fails because of the unplanned executions and lack of collaboration that increases friction causing poor product implementation.

Product managers have the responsibility of aligning the stakeholders and maximizing their relationships.

They also need a collaboration channel for communicating efficiently with different teams and sharing a successful product roadmap.

What Can Be Done?

Successful product management is all about collaboration.

Product managers should engage with stakeholders at different stages of product development. It is of utter importance to get all your stakeholders to the same room.  

This way, product managers can reduce the friction at each development stage and fasten the process.

Apart from this, there is a dire need of integrating various organizational departments into one place.

For instance, your sales and marketing team might be using Hubspot CRM and your support team is using Zendesk.

To bring the product manager along with the sales team and support team in one place, a single dashboard should suffice the needs.

Or let’s say your engineering team gets stuck at a problem they can’t wrap their hands around. Here, collaborating your engineering team with a designing team would voice out some opinions and might do the trick.

Final Thoughts

Product management might go wrong at any stage and you never know… It might be one of these mistakes.

You’ll enable your team to pull together and respond to hurdles with agility and grace by addressing core issues with communication, alignment, and team operations.

Make sure to troubleshoot your problems by utilizing the market research and releasing the product features in beta versions along with proper sales training.

Problem-solving is a product manager’s core strength.

At Zeda.io, we are building a product management platform for product teams to build and manage products. Zeda.io will help in creating effective product roadmaps, managing collaboration, feedback collection, prioritization, and reducing hefty workloads.

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