Successful product management is the perfect combination of aligning product capabilities with consumer demands. As a manager, you are under a perpetual pressure cooker. Skillfully managing each stage of the development lifecycle and avoiding product management mistakes are top priorities. I reflect on my previous experience as a product manager for a non-profit's social media platform. Long hours, beta testing, user groups, and stress balls filled my days. Ultimately, the efforts were successful and the platform is an integral part of association's membership base.
What to do and what not to do were always top of my mind. Product managers must account for every detail. They must plan for every possibility and maneuver through every situation to ensure that their product is tailor made for the target consumer. Consequently, best practices quickly establish themselves, as well as potential roadblocks surface.
Here are the 10 product management mistakes to avoid:
- Failing to differentiate between product requirements and customer requirements
The customer is always right when it comes to product usage. It is a symbiotic relationship where the customer defines what they need a product to do and the development team figures out how to build the product to facilitate the customer need.
- Failing to obtain enough data to make informed decisions
According to CGI, 10%-20% of products succeed depending on product category. That is a very small margin of error. You have to improve your chances for success by understanding your customer. Knowing how their family behaves and interacts with your respective market is essential to producing the best product for their consumption.
- Trying to satisfy everyone except the end user
Waters can get murky when you allow too many captains in to the bridge. Every department is motivated by different agendas. They want to shape the product based on their preferences. Cross-collaboration is important, but the most important segment is end users. If you don't tailor your product to their demands, then you and the rest of the company could soon be filing for unemployment.
- Rushing the beta phase
Every stage of the product development lifecycle is essential to a successful product launch; however, inadequate testing will derail you before the train even leaves the station if you don't run it through the paces. You must tirelessly test the product to find any vulnerability that could hinder its ability to move units.
- Letting emotions guide your development
There is a fine line between passion and obsession. A good product manager believes in every product he or she works on, but is also able to recognize when the product was better in concept than in reality. If unchecked, emotions can bias testing results and cause you to make the wrong decisions.
- Overreacting to the unpredictable
Inevitably, things will go wrong during the development cycle. Despite your best efforts, you can't control everything. You must establish a strategy to account for the curveballs that will come your way. Rely on comprehensive data and you will be able to approach every roadblock with perspective and poise.
- Misunderstanding user personas
From the early adopters to the laggards, your customers behave differently in terms of product adoption. You must take a macrocosmic approach to the development cycle. Having a firm grasp on how the majority of your customers will use your product will allow you to appeal to the masses instead of the outliers who may skew your data.
- Ignoring the importance of opportunity costs
This is beyond budgeting. Knowing what's at stake for every action will stretch your dollars and maintain accountability throughout the process. Opportunity costs can become a negligent deterioration of resources if you aren't careful. Additionally, the cost of inactivity can destroy the foundation your product development if you don't stay on top of things.
- Mistaking necessary features with luxury features
It is better to give the people what they ask for instead improving upon their suggestion. Don't try to force someone to buy a luxury automobile when they asked to be shown the bicycles. Your success as a product manager depends on your ability to provide the product that the customer demands. By having sound market intelligence and consumer data, you have the benefit of knowing the difference between baseline features and augmented benefits.
- Emphasizing innovation over value to the customer
Don't try to re-invent the wheel if it isn't the objective. Technology has created many opportunities to be innovative, but if that innovation lacks focus, the concerted effort of your development team could be futile. Apply the sentiment of innovation to serving the needs of your customer and your product will be an overwhelming success.
Navigating the difficulties inherent in product management is tough for any person to handle. Knowing what works and what doesn't isn't innate. Enlist the help of true experts to ensure that you don't make the mistakes that could lead you down the path to failure.
Thanks for reading!