Companies may have the perfect product, but the way they manage that product is causing them to have serious problems in the sales and revenue arenas. I spoke to Phil Tadros from Doejo to discuss the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to product management.

AJ: Hello and thank you for joining me today. First of all, could you inform my readers about what Doejo does as a company?

Tadros: Absolutely. Doejo is an innovation studio & venture design firm that has helped companies produce amazing products on time using agile practices. We take an agile approach over the traditional waterfall as it allows us to build-to-learn; Through experimentation and iteration, we can react to feedback faster, adapt to sudden change, and build better products in less time.

AJ: Product management is an important thing for any company, but why do so many companies get it wrong?

Tadros: The reality is the managers aren't always suitable for the job. Take a look at this statistic, 82% of hires by companies are wrong. They don't work out or they didn't choose the best candidate. Many product managers simply aren't suited to the job to begin with.

Companies don't think about who they are hiring for this role. You cannot hire any old manager and expect it to work. Unsurprisingly, many companies fail at the first hurdle.

Another major issue is that companies don't use the best process when they build products. It's easy to get excited and map everything out in a product's roadmap before you start building anything. But then when a sudden obstacle or delay comes along, your whole plan breaks down. Team members start to panic and clients get upset, causing you to spend much more time and money on getting the project done.

Instead, we've always used our own agile methodology to build any product or company we've ever created. What I've discovered is that our process can be used in any industry, even outside of software. An example would be our co-working space Space by Doejo, and our coffee roaster company Bow truss. These companies are not software companies, yet we used the same processes we did with Doejo to make both of these startups successful.

AJ: And how important do you think communication is?

Tadros: Incredibly, many managers lack the basic attribute of communication. So many managers are unable to explain to people what they want and what they are trying to do. That means you have a team that fails to operate on the same page.

Once they are not on the same page, everyone is pulling in multiple directions. It's impossible to get the best out of your team when nobody is quite sure what the main objective is.

Communication is just as important with the customer. I believe in agile methodology over waterfall techniques because it puts the customer at the heart of the process. You check in with them consistently and you're able to tweak the product as you get feedback from early customers.

AJ: Can product managers ever fail simply because the product in question isn't good enough?

Tadros: Sometimes it's an issue with the product, but great product managers point out these problems early. They know there's something wrong because they have regular contact with the end user. I believe that a good manager can get 80% out of a product or service with 20% of the effort. The advantage of our process is we can get customer feedback really early on, before we've invested significant time and money in the building process. This allows us to figure out why the product isn't good enough and adjust before we use up all of our resources.

AJ: So what advice would you give to managers who are looking to improve their performances?

Tadros: I think that too many product managers fail to solicit feedback from both their team and customers early enough in the development process. Building a product is not the hardest thing in product development, it's building a product that people actually love using. To do this effectively, it takes constant iteration and communication with all stakeholders throughout the development process.

Many product managers grew up learning that the traditional waterfall method of product development was the best way to go. They became comfortable with this methodology, and now have been unable to adjust to more proven processes like agile. This is too true as well for the companies they work with-they see change as the greatest risk. And competition waits for no one, the first to apply a new skill will fly ahead in terms of innovation. So, I'd advise anyone leading a product team to adjust their mindset away from thinking that you can map out every single part of the development process beforehand and have everything go perfectly.

Mistakes and setbacks happen to even the best product teams, but the greatest product managers know how to adjust when things don't go as planned.

AJ: I would like to thank you for joining me today and educating my readers on the mistakes companies make when it comes to product management.

Published on: Feb 28, 2016
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