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Regarding the overall direction of product decisions, product managers don’t have as much ‘say-so’ as you might think, and this is one of the biggest surprises early-stage product managers experience.
Product managers are in hot demand. According to McKinsey, there will be between 3-5 million people globally with the title—many new to the position. No question, directing a company’s new product rollout can be exciting and rewarding, but it isn’t without challenges. And those challenges have real consequences. One study found that more than 25% of product managers interviewed planned to leave their current position within 12 months. Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges that lead product managers to seek greener pastures.
Product management decision-making is limited
Regarding the overall direction of product decisions, product managers don’t have as much ‘say-so’ as you might think, and this is one of the biggest surprises early-stage product managers experience. As product management thought leader Dan Olsen states in his presentations about the ‘power’ product managers have, Spiderman's motto is: With great power comes great responsibility.
And a product manager's motto is: With great responsibility comes no power.
And then some executives often have product ideas as a result of meeting with customers, going to a trade show and visiting competitors, or reading articles about the industry. They are often referred to as HiPPOs—an acronym for the "highest paid person's opinion" or the "highest paid person in the office." Lower-paid employees tend to defer to higher-paid employees when a decision has to be made, even if the lower-paid employee disagrees. However, the organization will hold the product manager responsible if a product fails.
To align their visions with the product strategy, PMs spend a lot of time convincing others that their ideas make the most sense for the company. And when you consider the varied priorities and needs every stakeholder may have—many of which are in direct opposition to one another—getting the greenlight is even more difficult. At the end of the day, your tech background, education, and business acumen are only as important as your ability to persuade.
To further complicate matters, product managers can formulate convincing arguments for their ideas and even gain initial approval only to have months of work negated due to legal or compliance issues. Product management is challenging enough, but having limited decision-making can be, to say the least, demoralizing.
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Information is at a premium
If a significant portion of your job is to convince others that your vision makes sense, you need the most accurate and up-to-date information possible to make your case. Unfortunately, a common complaint from product managers is that the data they need simply isn’t available. To be clear, the data indeed exists—product managers just don’t always have access to it.
It’s surprising that so many organizations still have siloed data, but it is a real obstacle PMs face every day. To devise a product plan that aligns with the company’s mission solves a real customer problem and is positioned to hit revenue goals, PMs need access to data from all relevant stakeholders. Otherwise, you’re dealing in (un)educated guesses. And again, the success and failure of a product rollout will often land on the product manager, which is stressful when you don’t have all the puzzle pieces.
Many product management solutions are limited
As the number of product managers increases, one area the market will have to address is the lack of product management solutions necessary to do their jobs efficiently and accurately. The most commonly used solution by product managers is JIRA, created in 2002 for software developers as an issue-tracking tool for software companies to track things like bugs. JIRA is great for helping to get visibility over individual tasks, but it doesn’t encourage long-term or creative planning. Product managers often spend significant time addressing tickets instead of focusing on big-picture ideas.
Product managers also spend excessive time working in office tools such as spreadsheets and PowerPoint, messaging tools like Slack and collaboration tools like SharePoint to get the basic information to keep stakeholders informed and make decisions necessary to advance product plans. Consequently, product managers spend hours each week assembling data from disparate general-purpose tools not explicitly meant for their job title. How can they reasonably be expected to execute against the critical goals related to product management?
With so many more product managers entering the market, it’s critical for organizations to address the stresses they will encounter. The job of a product manager will always be demanding, but it’s more challenging than it needs to be.
By giving them the solutions they need, they can focus on goals, KPIs and getting the consensus from decision-makers to move products forward. That’s why Sopheon created Acclaim Products, a new solution that helps product managers drive the day-to-day details necessary to monitor the health of product programs, plan out the future of products, make data-based tradeoffs and keep stakeholders quickly informed.
Learn more about how Acclaim Products gives your product managers the power to create innovative product plans and offers access to the information necessary to gain faster buy-in.