As any product manager knows, getting cross-functional teams moving toward a common goal is easier said than done. You likely have stakeholders coming from all parts of the company—C-suite, engineering, design, marketing, sales, etc.—each looking at a problem and a product from different points of view, guided by their own needs and priorities. At the same time, product leads are tasked with mapping these multidisciplinary agendas to create a product roadmap that makes everyone happy.
Here are some common challenges you’ve likely faced when trying to get everyone on the same page for a new product initiative. But there’s an upside: Product strategy can help you address, and even avoid, these challenges.
Challenge: Lack of clarity around project roles and goals
While the output of product strategy is a brief to guide your project, the process of creating it provides the time and space to clearly identify who is involved and what is expected of everyone. Bringing all stakeholders together at the start not only lets you establish and confirm roles and responsibilities, it also offers a chance for everyone to provide their own input on the product. It’s about getting each stakeholder’s priorities noted early and discussed openly, so it doesn’t side-track progress later on.
Challenge: Balancing stakeholder requests and user needs
In creating a product strategy, the goal is to find the right balance between solving a customer problem and delivering business value. At the end of the day, a product is only going to be successful if you’re solving a user problem and producing something that meets a user’s needs. Creating a strategy at the start gives everyone something to refer back to if one or more stakeholders begin proposing changes that might threaten the success of the product. For a product manager who needs to answer to a higher-up at their company, for example, having that strategy in hand gives them something to refer to and could help avoid pivoting multiple times to accommodate the ever-changing needs of different teams.
Challenge: You ran the wrong way
Sometimes changes in the middle of the project make sense. If you’re heading in one direction and things aren’t progressing as planned—maybe due to external forces like market changes or new competitors—you might need to reassess your strategy and change course. It’s much easier to do so and get buy-in for changes when everyone already agrees on the project’s goals. When you involve everyone in defining the product strategy up front and make sure they’re all clear and aligned on what you’re building and why, they’ll likely understand the need to make some changes and agree to those as well.
Even if you can’t completely future proof a project from alignment issues, focusing on product strategy can help address them more quickly and save you valuable time later.
It takes time and practice to hone the skills you need on the people management side of projects.hat’s often why organizations choose to work with external partners who can guide these discussions and play the important role as the voice of the user. At DockYard, our goal is always to be an ally to our clients, We help facilitate the conversations that make sure every voice is heard, and balance each stakeholder’s goals with user needs to find a solution that works for all.
Want more advice on managing diverse stakeholders? Sign up for the DockYard newsletter to get info straight to your inbox! And if you’re ready to get to work on your next project, Contact DockYard today.