The Top 3 Challenges That B2B Product Managers Face

By: Mark @Spectechular Silver

Strategic Product Management is about creating organizational relationships and information flow.

The goal is to allow the implementation teams to execute product and company strategies.

As in any profession, product managers face a series of challenges. Below, I’ll briefly look at some of the top 3 challenges product managers face in the business to business arena. These 3 challenges include; maintaining focus, execution of products, and the challenge of expectations vs. reality.

Gartner Analysts speak about the importance of planning: “Strategic product planning is critical for providers to anticipate and ensure that their offerings meet the needs of customers and the market, and provide differentiation from competitors.”

Maintaining Focus with Concrete Product Goals

The first step to closing the gap from idea to action is to define the overall goal. This is the process of translating business objectives into concrete product goals. This step is not as easy as it sounds. Many teams face challenges when planning to meet specific goals. With product management, a roadmap needs to be developed to figure out what will take the product from Point A to Point B. This will set out organized guidelines for the team to follow to achieve the best execution. Specifically, when creating a road map, realistic timelines must be developed, otherwise deadlines will not be met. In regards to this challenge of maintaining focus, a common drawback is that once the road map has been created, managers step back and do not help with the implementation of the product. By doing so, there is no one guiding the team along the road map and is immediately asking for failure.

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Execution of Products through Continuous Assessment and Review

Now that the road map has been created, it is time to decide how the product will be executed. In order to transform the ideas into action, Product managers must work with the team. Having product management involved will allow for smoother product execution and will keep all team members on track and following the road map. A lot of the time the product manager will step back and only look at the final product once the team has completed. This however, is not beneficial for anyone. Product managers should continuously assess and review the products, follow up with the team, and keep a close eye on the timeline of the road map. Practicing this will not only speed up the process but ensure that there are no bumps in the road during the execution.

The Challenge of Expectations vs. Reality or Proving Value to Management

Another big challenge of B2B product management is the question of “how will the Product Managers overcome the challenge of expectations vs. reality and prove the project’s value?” This question ties in both maintaining focus and the execution of products. Companies tend to hire talented individuals who are capable of producing great products that bring strategic value to the company. In reality, the job is almost made impossible to attain the goal and execute products that will bring in the expected strategic value. Most of the time, the 3 reasons for this challenge is because the product as a line of business is handicapped from the start, there are missed market opportunities, and there are too many product strategies created that are not strategic for the company.

Gartner Analysts remind us to include everyone. That will create a place for expectations to be more realistic: “Get stakeholder involvement. Once primary improvement goals are identified, get buy-in from three sets of stakeholders: one or more senior executive sponsors, business operations stakeholders and the IT organization.”

All 3 challenges are aligned. To avoid the challenge of expectations vs. reality, product management must create a realistic road map that will maintain focus to work with the timeline given. Product management should also be included in not only the creation of the road map but also the process of product execution. After reading this article, all product management will be able to identify well with each challenge. By focusing on the challenges and seeing common mistakes happen, should allow for reconsideration when creating the next product.

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Mark Silver
Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.
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