The past two years have been one of great change and challenge for many industries. Covid-19 hit workforces hard when it first started spreading in 2020, needing swift and innovative solutions to be developed to adapt to the new climate. Fast forward to 2022 and the way companies are run has completely evolved. A vast majority have embraced a hybrid workspace and have thus moved their marketing and products to the online space. It wasn’t easy getting there though. The sudden rush to sell online had its own set of challenges. Many had always believed that customers would never fully trust buying their products off websites and online shopping apps. Most wondered if their products were even ready to be moved online. What needs would their products have to meet to satisfy this new market? Would there be a need to revamp their entire selling process to get customers’ attention? These were a few questions that plagued companies during the first few months of the pandemic. A few floundered but most knew where to look to improve. They’d have to go back to the basics and reevaluate the entirety of their inventory. From how they are priced, packaged and sold a product to its longevity and need to be updated. This was where the need for good Product Management came heavily into play.
Why Product Management is Important
Product Management (PM) is a multi-disciplinary subject, made up of many facets and is more in tune with picking up a soft skill than a technical one. It functions as a proxy for the overall business, allowing for a structured overview from the product development to the sales process. Product managers are great at managing risks and making a case for commercial viability. They are able to spot and eliminate assumptions through the process of disciplined experimentation, coming to a logical and data-backed conclusion to support their decisions. The role of the PM Team is to come up with strategies, offers and price designs for new and existing products. They also play an important role in the UX and defining what the product will be. The team is naturally at the very epicentre of impact inside the organisation.
That’s what makes Product Managers and their teams the backbone of companies. It’s their job to make sure they deliver products to customers that meet their ever-changing needs. An organisation that lacks a product management team is likely unable to understand its customer base as well as an organisation with one. Their importance really came into play during Covid-19. With the ever-changing restrictions on physical workspaces, the need to swiftly transition to the online space grew by the day. Product management teams were put to the test in these situations and most adapted quickly to help their companies survive.
Defining the New Problem
One of the pillars of product management is problem-solving. Figuring out the solution to changes in the way the company works, the way the customers think and market changes is fundamental to product management teams. It’s a process that involves ideation, countless trials and tests before it’s eventually implemented at the company level. But what happens when the problems keep popping up at an alarming rate? This became the reality for many during Covid 19. The usual time frame for the problem-solving process was drastically shortened.
The new, imminent problem now was to streamline the problem-solving process itself. Whereas before a product management team could take weeks or even months to go through a thorough process to find their solution, the need to shorten that time grew as customers demanded more online. This new way of product development has started to become the new normal. Prototyping and finding suitable test groups is easier in an online environment, so PM teams can work to refine a product and the way they sell it at a faster rate. During Covid the restrictions on the number of people who could gather meant that getting information and customer data also had to change. Online polls, surveys and social media outreach boomed. Product Managers utilised these tools to better understand their customers without even needing to see them interact with their products.
So What’s Next?
With the easing of restrictions now in 2022 there will be a new wave of change hitting the business world. Product Management teams will once again be put to the test to adapt to these new changes. The online space will continue to thrive, but a return of customers to physical locations will mean that they will need to balance selling on both fronts. If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that staying prepared for potential threats is important. So what are some ways that a Product Manager can prepare for the changes ahead?
Keep your finger on the pulse
Stay connected and in the know of how your customers’ needs are changing. With the restrictions lifted the supply and demand of products will shift once again. The supply-demand chain disruptions when Covid first hit had caused many to be weary to make bulk purchases and long-distance orders as there was an uncertainty on whether they will be delivered. Now those worries have been greatly reduced due to the easing of travel and import/export restrictions. This is one area where product managers will need to re-evaluate their approach in for example. Each business’s needs will be different though, so having an agile approach is important for the product management team.
Constantly gather new information
For a product manager and their team, information is king. What drives a successful PM team is data, customer feedback and competitor product analysis. The Covid era has shown that it’s better to have an overload of information than to be underprepared. Moving forward, PM teams should make a habit of gaining new feedback and updating assumptions (e.g., size of the market, price levels) that were foundational to what the business has to offer before moving projects toward the next stage of development. Redefine the process of data collection so the flow is more constant and the response from the team meets the demand. A more streamlined process will help identify star products and those that either need to be changed or dropped in their entirety.
How we can help you
Here at CuriousCore we believe in the need for lifelong learning and always upgrading oneself. Our courses are thus catered for the needs of mid-career professionals looking to learn or upgrade their skill set for a digital age. One area we specialise in teaching is Product Management. We run a 1-day intensive PM course that helps mid-career switchers and Product Managers learn the skillsets and trends that are present in the current market. We also look to help companies on a larger scale and run more specialised and custom courses that can cater better to their needs.
To find out more about our 1 Day Intensive Product Management course, click the link below.