Remote work is on the rise. And, with it, comes a new and unique challenge to product management teams. Product management is an essential part of any business's operations.
Out of every five individuals working before COVID-19, one was permanently removed, and 13% are still employed but not working, according to JobStreet's Malaysia Survey Report.
The pandemic impacted nine out of ten people employed during the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. 67% of businesses that are still in business allow remote work for their employees.
This condition also affects product management in remote teams. Let’s take a look at the challenges and solutions of product management in a remote team.
What is Product Management?
According to ProductHQ, product management is a process that a business uses to control the development and eventual launch of a product. Even though project management and product management seem similar, they have differences.
Project management is a multifaceted aspect of business leadership that includes a number of areas, including finance, marketing, strategy, and engineering.
Stages of Product Management
Meanwhile, product management, under the product manager's control, has the areas of the following stage. Here are the stages of product management, according to ProductPlan:
1. Idea management
Ideas come up on an ongoing basis, so it is important to capture and manage them centrally. Product management is responsible for maintaining a transparent system for collecting, aggregating, and storing these ideas.
Specifications for products should be concise, not excessively technical documents that solve three key issues:
- What are we developing, and why?
- What we can achieve from this new product?
- How do we measure success?
Teams should work together to find the answers to these questions with input from a variety of stakeholders to consider all possible scenarios and guarantee that everyone is on the same page moving ahead.
Before the prioritisation stage of product management, road mapping can avoid the conversation from Feature X versus Feature Y debate. Instead, the conversation focuses on higher-level goals, objectives, and themes that improve the product vision.
Regardless of the method used, prioritisation must strike a balance between the immediate, pressing concerns stakeholders are complaining about or demanding and the must-have necessities needed to perform against the medium-to-long-term to long-term strategy for the product and company.
Now that there is a roadmap and a list of priorities, it is time to begin developing and delivering. Product management frequently takes a backseat at this point, acting more as a consultant or advisor as engineers and product managers take control.
6. Experimentation and analytics
Product analytics presents a fresh opportunity for learning after the product is made accessible to the public or controlled beta. User data becomes available when products are suitably configured to collect it. This data, connections, causations, and correlations may all be determined, which can be immensely informative.
7. Customer feedback
A well-defined procedure for gathering and organising this input must be put in place by product management to close the loop with customers who take the time to share their ideas. This goes beyond accepting your pride and remaining open to outside perspectives.
Challenges of Product Management in Remote Teams
Product management in a remote team environment can be challenging due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Communication, team collaboration, and decision-making can be more difficult when team members are located in different locations. That’s why a Product Manager must ensure all those key factors are fulfilled.
Let’s take a look at the unique challenges of product management in a remote team and provide some solutions to help you succeed.
Challenge #1: Communication
“Cоmmunісаtіоn wоrkѕ fоr thоѕе whо wоrk at іt.” – John Powell
Effective communication is the key to any successful project. However, communication in a remote team can be challenging, as team members are often in different time zones and may have different schedules. Additionally, written communication can be easily misinterpreted, leading to confusion and mistakes.
Solution: Build effective communication
To ensure effective communication for effective product management, a product manager should build clear communication for the team.
This includes setting expectations for how and when team members should communicate, as well as which tools they should use. It’s important to regularly check in with your team to ensure everyone is on the same page and address any communication issues as they arise.
Challenge #2: Collaboration
“Tаlеnt wіnѕ gаmеѕ, but tеаmwоrk аnd intelligence wіn сhаmріоnѕhірѕ.” – Mісhаеl Jоrdаn
Imagine if your remote teams failed to develop and deliver quality products. It is not because of the lack of ideas or skills, but it is because of the lack of collaboration.
However, remote teams face struggling with team collaboration due to the need for face-to-face interaction.
Solution: Use team collaboration tools
Use team collaboration tools such as project management platforms to facilitate collaboration. These tools can help your team stay connected and collaborate in real-time. It’s important to choose tools that are user-friendly and accessible to all team members.
Challenge #3: Responsibility
“You саn’t еѕсаре thе rеѕроnѕіbіlіtу оf tоmоrrоw by evading it tоdау.” – Abrаhаm Lіnсоln.
Accountability is critical in any project, as it ensures team members are responsible for their work and meet their deadlines. In a remote team, accountability can be challenging, as team members may feel disconnected from the project and the team.
Solution: Set clear goals and expectations
To establish accountability, set clear goals and expectations for your team. This includes defining project milestones, deadlines, and deliverables. It’s important to ensure that everyone on the team understands their role and responsibilities in the project. Regular check-ins and progress reports can also help keep team members accountable.
Challenge #4: Building Trust
“It tаkеѕ twо tо dо thе truѕt tаngо – thе оnе whо rіѕkѕ (thе truѕtоr) аnd thе оnе whо is truѕtwоrthу (thе truѕtее); еасh muѕt рlау thеіr rоlе.” – Wаrrеn Buffеtt
Building trust is essential for any team, but it can be particularly challenging in a remote team where team members may never meet in person. Trust is built through open communication, transparency, and accountability.
Solution: Build an optimistic work environment
Create a supportive team culture in a remote team to increase trust. This includes encouraging ongoing discussion, honouring team members' contributions, and acclaiming group achievements. The trust and connection among team members can also be increased through regular team-building activities.
Remote product management can be a challenge. With the right strategies in place, it is possible to overcome any hurdles that arise. Clear communication combined with effective project management tools and processes can create an enjoyable and collaborative environment.
Additionally, setting team objectives and holding regular check-ins will ensure the entire team is on the same page and working towards shared goals. Your teams can continue to deliver successful products while working remotely with these solutions.