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Product Managers & the 4 Main Challenges They Face

Zuzanna Parulska

Jul 22, 2022・5 min read

StartupsProduct management

Table of Content

  • What is a Product Manager? 

  • The 4 biggest Product Manager challenges

  • Conclusions 

  • Recommended readings:

As the pace of growth in information technology continues to accelerate, so does the Product Manager’s role become increasingly relevant. In turn, so too does our awareness of his or her impact on discovering, building and maintaining products.

We witness the growing prominence and popularity of the Product Manager in The 2021 State of Product Management Annual Report, where it cites that even over the past year, for instance, in gender-related diversity of hired Product Managers, the well-being of Product Managers, 72% of PMs claim that they are extremely satisfied in their current roles.

Many people wonder whether they might rebrand themselves and seek work in the IT industry. From the outside, this may seem an idyllic career option: you know, find a great idea for a product, do some proper research, conduct your product–building team accordingly – and make some good money while you’re at it.

But what does the practical side of working as a Product Manager look like? What obstacles do they encounter and what are our tips for tackling them? Let's find out.

What is a Product Manager? 

Like it says in Wikipedia, the definition of the Product Manager role is: “A professional role that is responsible for the development of products for an organization, known as the practice of product management. Product managers own the product strategy behind a product, specify its functional requirements, and manage feature releases.”  

More specifically, a Product Manager must be knowledgeable about stakeholders, development lifecycles, business goals, digital transformations, and user experiences, among other things.

Product Manager Responsibilities:

  • Establishing the internal and external stakeholders involved
  • Identifying success metrics
  • Getting to know customers and interpreting their feedback
  • Defining product features 
  • Assessing customer needs
  • Establishing a vision and roadmap for the product
  • Taking a leading role in innovation
  • Taking on a presentational role
  • Connecting the team involved in building the product

Product managers must find the best possible ways to connect the team and to ensure the product meets all requirements. The best product managers are able to create a perfect collaboration among teams of designers, engineers, salespeople, marketers and oftentimes QA and Support.

These are duties that Product Managers must carry out on a daily basis. So, what are their biggest challenges and how do they overcome them?

The 4 biggest Product Manager challenges

Aligning the team

Product Managers work in an environment of different people with varying skills, experience and opinions. Therefore, the challenge is in integrating those different people for the most effective team possible. One that avoids conflict and misunderstanding. Managers must learn to set clear goals that each team member will understand and strive to achieve. 

However, problems can easily begin when this variety of perspectives interacts. Here, managers must successfully manage team expectations, emotions and motivation.

How to face this challenge 

Remember that your team members are, even if professionals responsible for delivering the product, still humans with a variety of inner workings and idiosyncrasies. 

Guidelines for Product Managers and team alignment: 

Empathize with your team members; talk with them about their needs and concerns regarding the project at hand.

Define goals and objectives that everyone understands. 

Create a framework that suits your team and one that will help everyone communicate more efficiently. 

Be flexible. When you’re confident the team understands their goals and objectives, give space for each member to work his/her own way towards achieving the goals you’ve agreed on. 

Dependency and technical restrictions 

When building product strategies, managers need to not only think about business goals, product-market-fit; and competitors, but they must also remember that every idea, even if well fitted to market, business and customer needs, may suffer technical limitations(e.g. service functionalities, third-party solutions dependency etc.). 

How to avoid mistakes in Product Management while being challenged by technical dependency 

Always consider risk assessment when creating a product strategy

Learn how to address the risks of dependency in order to minimize that risk

Think about dependency and limitations as something that must remain transparent to the organization and the teams involved. This way, potentially related issues can be more easily and clearly discussed. 

Managing internal and external changes

To build a product is to incorporate micro-processes within, involve people from a range of disciplines, reach business, sales, and marketing goals, and in the end, create value for the customer.

When building a product, changes from without may include changing market conditions, the emergence and disappearance of competitors, alterations in customer needs and requirements, and new technological solutions. 

Changes are also occurring internally, including product roadmaps and personnel changes within the team.

How to not let changes influence the Product Manager

This requires preparation for the changes that are so common to this process. The key is in an efficiently managed, full adaptation to these changes. Sticking to an agile mindset will enable you to do this more fluidly and provide you with some margin for predicting such changes in future. 

Multitasking 

Despite the fact that multitasking is a default skill for product managers, most successful inventors, musicians, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs insist on a singular focus. Specifically, such focus means giving one specific thing your undivided attention.

It may seem easy for a product manager to simultaneously handle stakeholder management, multiple prototype tests and budget planning. However, the reality may be less than what one expected.

Whenever you face a multitude of tasks to complete, consider delegating some of them to others within the organization or team. Management tools come in handy when you have too much to do all at once. 

Conclusions 

Product Managers face numerous challenges on a daily basis, but here's a tip that will change everything: turn those challenges into opportunities. Although it isn't always easy, you can gain maximum enjoyment out of a challenging job with the right approach.

Want to know what it's like to be a Product Manager at Startup House? 

Product Managers & the 4 Main Challenges They Face

Published on July 22, 2022

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Zuzanna Parulska Product Manager

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