Developing products is just the tip of the iceberg

Product managers are looking for ways to reap the benefits of successful product planning and execution. Yet, despite all of the efforts, navigating the waves of the product development ocean is often easier said than done.

While the role of the product manager widely varies across different industries and verticals, one thing that is evident is the many “hats” they have to wear. From envisioning a roadmap to strategically managing and developing products throughout their lifecycle, they constantly have to have their ear out in the “customerphere” to ensure that their plans are aligned with marketplace demands.

Developing products: Insight from the experts

To obtain a real understanding of a field, we have to go straight to the source. A few months ago I posted this question on Quora to try and shed some light on the challenges product professionals are facing:

What is the most difficult stage in product development and why?

Here are a few short excerpts from the responses I received:

developing-productsAndy Pipes, Senior Product Manager, BBC Sport: “No one section is more difficult than the next; they simply require different kinds of thinking to get the job done…One of the major challenges for product managers in my experience is simply stepping back from their great new idea and asking: Is this the right problem to solve for our customers / audience?…”Focusing too narrowly at the beginning is another pitfall. We all get really excited about our latest concept, and it’s tempting to rush into specifying to the Nth degree exactly how a solution is going to work.”

Geoffrey Anderson, Over 12 years in a variety of tech industry product management: “…the Beta test process. For the Software side, let’s assume that the product is an enterprise class product. On a hardware product, a beta test can be difficult for a variety of reasons. First, if major design flaws are uncovered (that weren’t caught during prototype and alpha build cycles), there can be significant re-work costs in both time and money. Thus, the tendency is to spend more and more time in the early cycles to catch and prevent these.”

Kelly Abbott, Product Developer, Southern California: “…the most difficult time in a product’s life cycle is when you realize your product is not fit for the market. It’s either a high tech-risk product that solves a problem nobody wants solved or it’s a high market-risk product that has the a failure-inducing melange of price, feature, color, name, or brand identity. In both cases, you have an existing product that needs to pivot. Pivots suck.”

I will be posting more responses on Wednesday, so stay tuned.

Want to express your own thoughts on this topic? Click here to share your answers with the product management community on Quora or leave your comments below.

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