Product Managers play a critical role in balancing what customers want with their company’s objectives when identifying products that will be successful. Once these projections are made, they then need to drive the team responsible for turning this vision into reality. However, successful product ideation is not a Product Managers’ only purview. Product Managers also help facilitate or make decisions on what the next generation of products and features should be.
These are decisions that have a tremendous impact on a company’s bottom line; yet, Product Managers experience very little investment in terms of tools and technology to facilitate their performance when compared to the rest of the organization. Project Managers, Engineers, and Operations all have advanced systems supporting their processes. In contrast, our studies have found that a Product Managers’ toolkit mainly consists of archaic tools such as email, spreadsheets, and presentation software. Here’s why that needs to change, and how a product planning tool presents a seamless solution.
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You need to communicate changes to your product launch roadmap efficiently
Product plans change all the time. What products and features need to be launched and when can be subject to many events such as market shifts, supply shortages, R&D delays, and operational and engineering complications. To solve these problems, Product Managers need to act fast and provide alternatives, verify the new definitions of products, receive approval for adjustments and work with Project Managers to update the project plan in tandem with the product plan.
A product management system with standard reporting, automated visuals, and change reports will benefit Product Managers in making updates to product plans in record time, describing requirements in an easy-to-understand way, and provide access to all stakeholders efficiently.
You need to gain insights into your product line to rationalize and decide what features and products to offer in the future
Making informed decisions on the next generation of their company’s products is one of the most critical activities in any organization. Good choices on what to produce will bring significant returns, and poor decisions can dearly cost the company and be damaging to the team's morale.
A good product planning software will provide a set of tools to gain insight into your current and future product lines. These include qualitative and quantitative methods for analyzing your products. Qualitative analysis can consist of a repository to hold you and your competitors' features and product information, providing side-by-side comparison charts of features and specifications between the two. It can also include a space to provide contextual feedback on each product and feature from others in the organization or from CRM systems.
In addition, quantitative analysis can include scoring your product features against set targets, forecast methods for price and volume, or providing insight into your product complexity using metrics such as buildable combinations.
You use Excel and Powerpoint to communicate your next product launch
Describing planned features and market needs to various audiences with different backgrounds can be challenging. Excel and PowerPoint do a great job creating communication and analytics spaces, but they also come with limitations.
First, Excel and PowerPoint can create non-standard reports, which can also be complex. That means two things: first, others need to be able to understand the document every time and second, in many cases, the creator has to present the document. The problem here is every new presentation is different, and there is little consistency in reviewing one product or launch vs. the other.
Second, having multiple reports and spreadsheets means copying data from one to the other and trying to make sure they all tell the same story, hopefully with no mistakes! Third, making changes to one means reviewing all the documents and making sure they are all up-to-date. Fourth, because of complexity or simply not having time to research new methods, using Excel can be a challenge in performing analysis and testing alternative methods for gaining fruitful insights into your products.
With Product Management software, you can rely on standard reports for communication, consistency, and integrity in messaging and utilizing new or more complex methods for gaining insights and making decisions intuitively.
You need to align everyone around one product strategy
Imagine this: you go into a meeting with stakeholders only to find out each one was viewing a different version of the product features and requirements to be launched. You need to receive approvals today as getting all these individuals in a meeting again will take time. Where do you start?
With Product Planning software, you can make sure everyone has access to the latest information and can compare changes and see the reasonings and details of proposing a set of products and features all in one place. The reports and visuals are all standardized and secured for the right audience. Aligning teams to collaborate or get approvals will be faster, which also means faster time-to-market.
You face deadlines, and every day you don't get approval on your product plan creates a lot of idle time around the company
Preparing necessary documents to receive approvals is time-consuming. You need a space to gather relevant information, perform analytics and assessment, and creative ways to present the information. What makes it even more challenging is updating the documents when the latest information is received and then informing everyone without setting up meetings. All this before deadlines.
You need to factor in the lead times to obtain approvals and allow the opportunity for Project Managers to update the projects, all while still delivering the final product at an acceptable time. Delays in decision-making or communication of the decisions can cause significant idle times across the company as it puts engineering and operations in a limbo!
With Product Planning software at your disposal, you can make the changes in no time and provide communications with links to the changes. Users can see what has changed right away without having to update every spreadsheet or proactively mark each change. Just capture the new feature or changes to old ones and let the software track the changes and reflect them on the comparison reports.
All the tools currently assume that the product requirements are already defined. Engineers, Designers, and Project Managers expect those requirements and the products and features to be produced to be described upfront and approved. But the tools to do just that are outdated.
There is clearly a void in modern technology when it comes to product planning and management. With Product Managers having the critical task of conveying, aligning, and facilitating or making decisions on what products to launch and when, the need for them to have access to excellent communication and analytical tools is essential.
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