We all know a product manager occupies a unique role in a company’s product development process. They are responsible for developing products and services that meet the needs of customers. This includes various skills and tasks, such as analysis of product competition, analysis of proposed products, research, inventory control, forecasting, strategy, and marketing the product to the right customers at the right time. A product manager is involved in every step of the product life cycle.
While desirability, feasibility, and viability are the three most essential characteristics of an ideal innovation process, the product manager plays a key role in ensuring the implementation of all these three factors, by interfacing effectively between the engineering and marketing teams.
In a time when remote work or hybrid work is the norm and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, product managers face many different challenges.
1. Rapidly changing market dynamics
Because of the impact of COVID-19, the market has been more volatile than ever. The changing market conditions have a significant across every step of the product life cycle. The availability of resources and changing requirements of customers are just two of the associated challenges. A robust plan backed by market research with the right identification of potential risks and opportunities impact on product management can help to change direction as and when required.
2. Prioritizing short-term vs long-term targets
While this is a longstanding challenge that product managers have to face, it has been accentuated now. The lack of stability in the market makes it even harder to develop and stick to a concrete strategy that will take into account short-term and long-term goals. It is imperative to stay connected with the different teams in the organisation as well as the customers. Staying engaged in the process and effectively allocating time to both types of goals are important steps in this regard.
3. Balancing empathy for the team and the customer
It may not be possible for every team member to work to their full capacity during this time. There can be many reasons behind it. Additionally, it is possible that remote work makes certain aspects of work tougher. While it is tempting to always want to deliver the best possible and fully-featured product for customers, it may not be the right decision for the team. There are always likely to be some trade-offs, and achieving the right balance is a difficult ask. A well-defined goal with clear communication between all stakeholders can help to make it a little bit easier.
4. Managing time
While this is likely to be a challenge that most professionals across many industries face, it is a significant factor in the role of a product manager because of the multiple demands on their time. Interfacing between various teams and the customers along with all the other demands of the role can lead to a difficulty in maintaining focus and devoting enough time and attention for each task. This also includes balancing short-term and long-term goals. The ability to balance needs and expectations based upon the opportunities in the market and an effective plan are crucial skills.
While there are ways to address these challenges, some product management tools can go a long way towards simplifying some of the complexities associated with a task as complex as project management.
Survey tools like SurveyMonkey, various messaging tools, presentation software, tracking and analysis tools such as Pendo, and roadmapping software like ProductPlan are just a few examples. There can be many other examples of tools and software aligned towards specific needs.
The role of a product manager presents many different challenges that can be mitigated when the entire organisation works effectively as a team. It is a new opportunity for to develop adaptability and flexibility in order to build a more resilient organisation for the future.