Challenges associated with managing products at every stage

managing productsBy now many of you have (hopefully) enjoyed some much needed time to wrap up 2011 and reflect on the year`s great, and not-so-great accomplishments.

To highlight some of the issues involved with managing products, I asked the product management community on Quora to share what they believed to be the most difficult stages of development:

Andy Pipes, Senior Product Manager, BBC Sports “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?”. Sometimes just rephrasing the problem in the point of view of a different group of customers unpicks a greater need somewhere else.”

Peter Scharnell, Software Product Manager “As an agile product manager, for me the Product Planning stage and more specifically, backlog estimation is the most challenging. Having enough detail to get good estimates from engineering but not too much detail that you are down in the weeds, is at times a challenge.”

Karol M McCloskey, Product Professional “When I performed the launch manager role I found most difficulties came about during beta testing and early release cycles. That’s when the rubber truly hits the road and could be the first time customers have had a chance to look at/use the product. Managing customer expectations after the fact is very hard.”

Shankar Bharathan, Product Manager, HCM Expert “I would still rate ‘Feature prioritization’ as the most difficult and critical stage. You have a whole list of things to do, all of them equally important (as per your customers, sales team, consulting, dev. teams and as defined by certain org. approaches). A product manager has to carefully weigh these priorities along with the available person days and choose a few.”

Setting product management goals, and sticking to them

There is an old saying: “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” (Author Unknown)

As you look back to 2011, keep in mind that difficulties and accomplishments can serve as learning experiences—ones you should perceive as valuable lessons to guide your actions in the new year. So, what are some of your product management challenges and how do you plan to successfully tackle them in 2012?

Join the conversation. Share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment below or participate in our latest discussion on Quora.


  1. Peter Scharnell

    Very thoughtful post. There are so many challenges with the Product Management discipline that it’s difficult to pick the most difficult stage of software development. That being said, I would not want to be working in any other role.

  2. Catherine Constantinides

    Thanks, Peter. Spoken like a truly passionate product manager. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts on Quora and Twitter.



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