Are you a product manager? Then this has definitely happened to you (and here’s what you can do about it).
Your product team starts developing a new user profile page. Mid development your system architect lets you know that this will impact the data caching and will add more development time. How much? It’s hard to say. The problem is really complex…
Next, your designer has finished the UI design. You both think it looks really good, but the designer added a few more data boxes to the design and you originally talked about. Alright, we’ll have to try and squeeze that in there.
Development continues, but is roughly aborted by the head of PR saying that we just signed a deal with a really important partner. It’s imperative that we rebrand our startpage asap to reflect this. Ok, some people are put aside to work on this.
Then everything breaks. Customer service get bug reports on that the payment process is broken. The CEO does not like the new user profile design. All development gets delayed. Team morale is at the bottom.
Who’s fault is it? Yours.
Being a product manager is about making hard choices, setting a strategy that benefits the entire company and making sure that all stakeholders are happy with this. In the case above (which we all experienced) the product manager failed to analyze and explain the implications of the different changes that came in from the side to the people suggesting them.
As a product manager you need to know the product by heart and still not be the domain expert in all the details. You must not be afraid to ask the question “Or what will happen?”. It’s really easy for a developers to say “We need to fix this or the site will break” or a PR manager to say “this partner is what will allow our business to take off”. As much as you need to trust their judgement, they need to motivate why, and how it will break or at what level it will benefit the company. The same goes with marketing, sales, pr, customer service and design. You need to get the processes in place to get the right information in the right time to make the right decisions.
To get past it’s a lot of work. You need to manage changed customers demands, internal politics, loud and passionate co-workers with huge pride in their individual work and the constant risk of making a bad call.
When all departments in the company are aligned with the product vision, that supports the company goals, and processes are in place to include ALL the stakeholders interests, that’s where the magic happens!