What's Keeping Product Leaders Up at Night in 2023? - SmartKarrot Blog

What’s Keeping Product Leaders Up at Night in 2023?

What are the things bothering product leaders? Let us find out in this blog.

What's Keeping Product Leaders Up at Night in 2023
What's Keeping Product Leaders Up at Night in 2023

The product leader’s journey is not an easy one. Product managers have a diverse skill-set and an equally diverse responsibility kit. There is no dearth of challenges that product managers face. The tasks and responsibilities of the product leaders encompass every department of the SaaS company. Product managers face a lot of issues, and some drive them crazy. These issues can help aspiring product leaders manage better if they crop up in the course of their careers.

Changes in design, strategy, leadership

If a product leader has to deal with multiple changes in a short span, he or she will have sleepless nights. The constant changes in design, corporate strategy, and leadership can lead to issues for product managers and leaders. For every design, it is important to create an entire product roadmap. This leads to product roadmaps being left abandoned every time there is a change in business strategy. If the promise, product premise, and design change every 6 months, it is tough to stick to one roadmap.

Making the organization centered around the product vision

The company needs to be unified on the product vision. The sales team’s vision must not be different from what the product team is planning to design. The entire company needs to know what the product is looking to achieve. Achieving product success is important, and this will happen only if a single product vision is prevalent across the organization. The product vision is a statement that mentions-

  • Why the product is important
  • What problems are being solved
  • Who is the product for?
  • When is the product supposed to be launched?
  • Why is the product being built now?

The product vision helps all teams understand and align their work around it.

Ensuring customer success

Customer success is important for any product leader. Customers need to be successful with the product. It needs to be indispensable for them. Products are built for customers, and; therefore, they should align with customer expectations. The better the alignment, the better customer success KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) would be.

Resources and requirements

While product managers have multiple goals to meet, they may not get all the resources required to meet them. Unlimited feature requests and limited resources are hard bets to meet. The core team at a company does setting expectations for product leaders. However,  you need adequate resources, better tools, testing software, top-notch developers, simplified mediums, and more to meet these expectations. It is also important to have the right bandwidth for meeting goals. This is one factor that gives product leaders sleepless nights.

Teamwork matters

Teamwork makes the dream work; heard that, right? If the product team is not aligned with the set goals and expectations, it can lead to prolonged delays, gaps in the product, UX issues, and more. It is important for the team -from coding teams to creation teams to be involved in the process and have a comprehensive understanding of the product vision. In some cases, UX designers may push their updates without looking at the final result. The entire product team must be on a single platform at making the product meet the requirements.

The features vs. deadlines

The biggest factor giving product leaders sleepless nights is the features v/s deadlines. There are so many feature requests and such less time. In some cases, non-team members or top cadre officials like the CEO or CFO may arbitrarily promise features that the product team must meet. Super tight delivery dates may harm how the product turns out to be, disturb the product team, increase stress, etc.

Responsibility sans authority

A product leader is entrusted with the great responsibility of building an excellent product. However, they have no inherent power. ‘With great responsibility, they almost have no power,’ as quoted in The Lean Product Playbook by Dan Olsen. Product leaders handle the building of the product, product vision, product roadmap, product strategy, and execution as well. However, there is hardly any authority they have. They are not in a position to hold any team responsible to execute the goals. Some product teams do not have all the members that make it a team as such.

Trade-offs in decisions

Product leaders face another challenge. The product leader needs to make important decisions on a daily basis. They need to deal with trade-offs on a regular basis. The product leaders need to deal with-

  • Choosing unique features or choosing quality
  • Building v/s buying an interface
  • Meeting deadlines or meeting quality goals

Product leaders must take these critical decisions, impacting how the product works. This leads to a lot of what-ifs? What if the interface was outsourced? What if the deadline was extended? What if the features are not helpful to customers?

Feedback, failures, and criticism

Product leaders also need to take feedback, criticism, and failures on daily wear. Product leaders are responsible for one of the most important outcomes of a company. A customer will choose a company only because of the product. Product leaders receive a lot of feedback and criticism for their work if it does not meet their requirements. It can hurt product leaders and demotivate them in the long run.

How can product leaders tackle these challenges?

Product leaders can handle these challenges if they keep certain pointers in mind.16

  • Shared, clear objectives for all teams on the product front can eliminate the lack of clarity
  • Real conversations in a two-way format will give rise to suggestions, feedback, and ideas to improve product decisions.
  • Set team-driven deadlines by asking the product team members what can be possible in x period
  • Create lean and agile product roadmaps that will help achieve product goals
  • Communicate any delays in deadlines, issues that arise, unforeseen changes, and more
  • Align as much as you can- with the product vision, company goals, customer requirements, and more.
  • Prioritize important aspects in the product roadmap that will make users happy
  • Hire the right professionals and make careful decisions to improve the work culture
  • Take structured feedback through surveys and understand the points that could be improved

Bottom Line

Product leaders need to build a tech-savvy culture, focus on the company goals, and align them to the product vision. It is also important for product leaders to train the team members to meet various deadlines and quality standards. Product managers must have frequent feedback sessions with the product team and other teams to understand what works and does not. Lastly, product managers and product leaders need to keep customer success in mind while charting plans.

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