Product Managers face many challenges, throughout the course of the product lifecycle
Tasked with creating the necessary framework for the company’s implementation teams to execute company and product strategy, their focus and dedication is central to an organization’s success. In the B2B world, they also have a foot in the customer success aspect as well, striving to ensure customer satisfaction and to efficiently receive and respond to their feedback, in order to make improvements to meet their needs.
This article will briefly look at the top 3 challenges B2B Product Managers face. These challenges include; maintaining focus, execution of products, and the challenge of expectations vs. reality.
Gartner starts by telling us to: “Determine your company’s top priorities to improve upon related to product strategy and execution. The key to improving product life cycle performance is to focus on one or two primary improvement goals at a time.”
Like any task or job, the first step is to define the overall goal. This is the process of translating business objectives into concrete product goals. However, this step is not as easy as it sounds. Many teams face challenges when creating a team to follow a specific road map. Product managers help develop the roadmap detailing what will take to get a product from point A to point B. With organized guidelines for the team to follow companies can prepare for the best execution. Specifically, when creating a road map, realistic timelines must be developed, otherwise the execution will prove elusive. In regards to the challenge of maintaining focus, a common drawback is that once the road map has been created, some 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 failure becomes more likely.
Gartner analysts address the issues of time in regards to Product Management: “Manufacturers continue to struggle with reducing the time it takes to define, design and deliver innovative new products. IT organizations can contribute to improved product innovation performance by enabling capabilities that close the gap between R&D activities and improve system-centric product design.”
Execution of Products
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 management must work with the team. Having product management involved will allow for smoother execution and will keep all team members on track and following the road map. Product management 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
Another big challenge of B2B product management is that of product managers overcoming the challenge of expectations vs. reality to prove its 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 difficult in that you must attain the goals and execute products that will meet the expectations of management. Most of the time the reasons is that 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.
Toyota has a product development system with 13 principles. One of them is to: “Utilize rigorous standardization to reduce variation, and create flexibility and predictable outcomes.”
As stated before, all 3 challenges are aligned. To avoid the challenge of expectations vs. reality, product managers must create a realistic road map that will maintain focus to work with the timeline given. They should also be included in not only the creation of the road map but also the process of product execution. By focusing on the challenges and working to eliminate common mistakes, success should be assured when creating the next product.