As the role of a product manager continues to gain prominence in today's business landscape, it comes with a unique set of challenges that can hinder success. Product managers are responsible for studying product usage patterns, prioritizing features, creating a cohesive product vision, monitoring the market, and coordinating with engineering teams. However, they often face obstacles that can impede their ability to deliver exceptional product experiences.
In this article, we will explore nine critical challenges that product managers are likely to encounter in 2023. We will delve into each challenge, providing insights and strategies to overcome them. By addressing these roadblocks head-on, product managers can enhance their effectiveness, drive innovation, and deliver products that delight users.
1. Communication across siloed teams
Effective communication is crucial for successful product management. However, many organizations struggle with communication silos, where teams share knowledge exclusively within themselves, hindering collaboration and hindering progress. Product management teams are particularly affected by this challenge as they rely heavily on engineering and design teams.
To overcome communication silos, it is essential to foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing across teams. Building cross-functional product teams with dedicated designers and engineers can facilitate better communication and alignment. Additionally, leveraging communication tools, such as project management software and collaboration platforms, can streamline communication and ensure everyone is on the same page.
2. Dependence on engineering resources
Product managers often depend on engineering resources to turn their ideas into reality. However, the demand for engineering resources often outweighs the supply, leading to delays in product development and deployment. This challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that only a small percentage of product managers possess coding skills.
To address this challenge, organizations can invest in building cross-functional product teams comprising designers and engineers. By having dedicated resources within the team, product managers can reduce their dependence on external engineering resources and accelerate product development. Additionally, hiring product managers with technical and design skills can bridge the gap between product vision and execution.
3. Product adoption and onboarding
Ensuring product adoption and providing a seamless onboarding experience are critical for retaining users. However, many organizations struggle to achieve high adoption rates and face challenges in creating effective onboarding experiences. This can lead to low user retention and ultimately impact the success of the product.
To overcome this challenge, product managers can leverage product tours and interactive walkthroughs to guide users through the product and highlight its value. Contextual cues such as tooltips and hotspots can help users discover helpful resources, tips, and tricks within the product interface. Using no-code tools, product managers can quickly build onboarding experiences without writing a single line of code. Additionally, maintaining a library of self-help resources, including videos, guides, and documentation, can empower users to explore the product independently.
4. Product roadmap prioritization
One of the biggest challenges product managers face is prioritizing features and initiatives on the product roadmap. Without a universal measure of value, product teams often struggle to make informed decisions about which features to focus on. This challenge is further complicated by the diverse needs of different user segments and conflicting priorities within the organization.
To tackle this challenge, product managers can establish a universal metric for prioritizing features, such as revenue, profitability, or usage. This metric can serve as a guiding principle when making decisions about which features to prioritize. Collecting product feedback through NPS surveys and polls can also provide valuable insights into user preferences and expectations. Additionally, spreading resources across multiple features concurrently and seeking support from other departments within the organization can help address conflicting priorities.
5. Keeping up with deadlines
Meeting deadlines is crucial for product managers to deliver products on time and maintain a competitive edge. However, juggling multiple projects, managing resources, and setting realistic goals can be challenging, leading to missed deadlines and compromised quality.
To overcome this challenge, product managers can leverage product roadmaps to break projects into smaller tasks with micro-deadlines. Assigning specific tasks to team members and setting realistic goals can help ensure timely delivery. It is also essential to requisition the necessary personnel and resources before starting a project to avoid delays. Conducting retrospectives and post-mortems after each project can provide valuable insights for future planning and improvement.
6. Remaining savvy on your ever-changing product
Product managers must stay up-to-date with their products' evolving landscape to advocate for users effectively. This includes understanding user feedback, tracking user behavior, and continuously improving the product experience. However, the volume of data and the need to identify actionable insights can be overwhelming.
To address this challenge, product managers can consistently collect product feedback through NPS surveys, polls, and questionnaires. Using product and behavioral analytics tools, such as heatmaps and session recordings, can help identify user experience gaps and uncover unreported bugs. By analyzing data and observing usage patterns, product managers can gain valuable insights into user behavior and make data-driven decisions.
7. Continuously researching product fit and future
Product managers play a crucial role in defining the future direction of a product. This involves researching market trends, understanding customer needs, and identifying opportunities for product expansion and innovation. However, staying ahead of the curve and making informed strategic decisions can be a significant challenge.
To overcome this challenge, product managers must continuously conduct market research to identify emerging trends and potential disruptions. Interviewing customers, iterating and expanding product scope, and devising strategies to outperform competitors are essential steps in ensuring long-term success. By adopting a proactive approach to research and staying informed about industry developments, product managers can position their products for future growth.
8. Extracting insights from large amounts of user behavior and product data sets
Product analytics provides a wealth of data on user behavior and product performance. However, extracting meaningful insights from vast amounts of data can be daunting. Understanding user actions, identifying patterns, and translating data into actionable recommendations are crucial for informed decision-making.
To tackle this challenge, product managers can leverage product analytics tools to track user actions, generate heatmaps, and observe session recordings. These tools can help identify usage patterns, detect user experience gaps, and uncover areas for improvement. By analyzing and interpreting data effectively, product managers can gain valuable insights that drive product enhancements and optimize user experiences.
9. Collecting customer feedback
Collecting actionable customer feedback is essential for iteratively improving products. However, capturing meaningful feedback at scale can be challenging. Traditional feedback collection methods, such as surveys and polls, may not provide in-depth insights or result in survey fatigue among users.
To address this challenge, product managers can personalize feedback sequences with situation-specific questions. By asking brief, specific questions one at a time, product managers can gather more focused and actionable feedback. Additionally, pairing up new power users with product managers for live feedback sessions can provide valuable insights. Leveraging user communities and feedback forums can also facilitate ongoing feedback collection and engagement.
Ideate, build and maintain with Roro
At Roro, we understand the unique challenges that product managers face in today's dynamic business landscape. Our expertise in product analysis, building, and delivery can help product leaders overcome these challenges and drive innovation. By partnering with Roro, product managers can benefit from our deep understanding of market trends, user behavior, and cutting-edge technologies.