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24/08/2023

Top 10 Challenges of Large-Scale Product Teams and Their Solutions

It is safe to say that being a product manager is both complex and highly rewarding. There are many common challenges that such a manager has to deal with.

Andrzej Puczyk

Head of Delivery

Sara Kurczyńska

Content Specialist
Reading time 7 min

These tend to include tight deadlines, prioritization, and technical issues. Then, there are challenges that are unique to every product team. Obviously, these are going to require unique solutions.

To give an example, think about an enterprise product team. Unless you have already had a chance to work as an enterprise product manager, you might find it difficult to understand the day-to-day challenges that come with developing an enterprise product. In the following article, we will examine the said challenges, as well as provide you with sound solutions to each one of them.

What is enterprise product management?

Before we get into what the above-mentioned challenges are, we should establish what enterprise management is about. In short, enterprise product management refers to the process of developing, managing, and optimizing products specifically for large enterprise businesses. The said businesses are the end users of the products being developed.

To put it another way, unlike traditional product management that focuses on individual consumer products, enterprise product management deals with products and solutions tailored for big and complex entities.

So, what does a product manager do when developing an enterprise-grade product? Their responsibilities are the same as those of other product managers, but a bit different. 

They also research their target market, manage resources, prioritize certain features above others, and more. However, they do so while serving numerous stakeholders. These stakeholders typically include people from several different departments.

Now that we have outlined just how complicated enterprise product management can be, we are going to take a look at the most common challenges that enterprise product teams have to face.

Top challenges of large-scale product teams

Below, you will find a breakdown of ten challenges that product managers face when managing large-scale product teams. Aside from describing these challenges, we will provide you with a sustainable solution to each one of them.

Pressing deadlines

Pressing deadlines pose a significant challenge for enterprise product teams. The pressure to deliver results within tight timeframes can lead to compromised quality, as well as increased stress among team members. To effectively tackle such a challenge, enterprise product managers can turn to well-established project management methodologies. 

The adoption of Agile practices allows for the breaking down of substantial projects into manageable iterations. It facilitates incremental progress and regular course corrections, ensuring that the project remains aligned with its goals while allowing for the flexibility needed to address unexpected hurdles.

Lack of flexibility

A lack of flexibility within enterprise product management is a serious issue. It arises from the intricacies of navigating a complex organizational structure. Large enterprises often grapple with hierarchical decision-making processes, lengthy approval chains, and an abundance of bureaucratic hurdles. These factors collectively hinder the rapid response to market changes and innovative ideas that are vital for keeping products competitive and relevant.

To address this problem, enterprise product managers can work towards fostering a culture of innovation and embracing decentralized decision-making. By empowering cross-functional teams with the autonomy to make decisions and iterate on products, organizations can overcome the barriers posed by bureaucracy. 

In addition, you might want to start encouraging experimentation and risk-taking within controlled environments. Doing so allows teams to pivot swiftly in response to market shifts, making it easier for them to capitalize on the latest industry trends.

Poor communication

In an environment with multiple departments, teams, and stakeholders, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and misaligned expectations can easily occur. These breakdowns can cause delays, errors, and even the development of products that do not accurately meet the intended requirements.

Addressing poor communication requires a comprehensive approach. First, you should establish clear communication channels, including regular team meetings, cross-functional gatherings, and stakeholder update sessions. Documentation is equally important. Maintaining well-structured project roadmaps, specifications, and guidelines ensures that everyone involved can refer to a single source of information during the product development process.

Aside from that, collaborative tools and platforms can play a pivotal role in streamlining communication. They help ensure that vital information reaches the right individuals in a timely manner. Finally, it is essential to foster a culture of open and transparent communication. It encourages team members to voice concerns, share insights, and collaborate effectively, ultimately enhancing the quality of the product development process.

Slow market validation

The extended development cycles characteristic of large-scale projects often lead to slow market validation. In other words, the prolonged timeline between ideation and product launch can lead to delays in gauging whether the product adequately meets market needs. This can result in significant resource allocation to products that may not resonate with customers as anticipated.

Mitigating this challenge involves incorporating lean startup principles into enterprise product management. To begin with, a product team should focus on creating minimum viable products. It is much more productive than working towards launching a complete version of the product right away, as it allows teams to gather early feedback from potential users. 

Other than that, conducting market research, engaging in customer interviews, and monitoring user behavior can validate assumptions and provide insights that guide the development process. The key here is to do it early in the product’s life cycle. 

Having gained such data-driven insights, enterprise product managers can make informed decisions about feature development, prioritize based on actual customer needs, and reduce the risk of investing heavily in concepts that do not align with market demands. This approach ensures that resources are efficiently allocated to features that have the greatest potential for success.

Large number of stakeholders

Dealing with a large number of stakeholders is an inherent challenge in enterprise product management. Each stakeholder brings their own set of priorities, expectations, and objectives to the table. Balancing these diverse interests while maintaining a clear and cohesive product vision can be demanding and potentially lead to conflicts and misalignment.

Effectively managing a multitude of stakeholders involves defining a robust product strategy and vision from the outset. So, engage stakeholders early in the process to gather their input and align their expectations with the overarching product goals. Then, establish a transparent prioritization framework that takes into account the impact of decisions on various stakeholders. 

By providing a structured approach to decision-making and involving stakeholders in the process, product managers can minimize conflicts, ensure alignment with the business objectives, and create products that cater to a wide range of needs while maintaining a unified direction.

Offering too many services

Enterprise product teams often face the challenge of offering too many services or features within a single product. The intention might be to cater to a wide array of customer needs. Unfortunately, the result can be feature bloat, increased complexity, and a dilution of the product’s core value proposition. These things, in turn, are likely to cause difficulties in user adoption, increased maintenance costs, and decreased overall user satisfaction.

If you want to prevent that from happening, focus on maintaining a clear and well-defined value proposition. Rather than trying to include every conceivable feature in a product, prioritize those that align most closely with the product’s core purpose and the needs of the target market. 

It is also important to regularly assess and validate the usefulness of existing features through user feedback and data analysis. If a feature is useful, but might not be desired by that many users, consider offering it as a modular add-on. Doing so makes it possible for users to customize the product to suit their specific requirements without overwhelming them with unnecessary complexity. 

Setting the wrong goals

The process of defining goals and objectives lays the foundation for the entire product development lifecycle, influencing decisions, resource allocation, and overall team direction. When goals are misaligned, it can lead to a cascade of issues that hinder progress and impact the success of the product.

In order not to end up dealing with such issues, enterprises should put in the time and effort to foster a strong alignment between product managers, executive leadership, and other relevant stakeholders. It is crucial, as it ensures that product goals remain in sync with the overarching business strategy, preventing the misallocation of resources and efforts. 

Cross-functional collaboration plays a pivotal role as well. Including perspectives from various departments during goal setting ensures a holistic view and prevents conflicting interests.

Inability to analyze results

Another significant challenge that looms over large-scale product teams is the inability to effectively analyze results. While setting the right goals is essential, it is equally vital to assess the outcomes of these goals to inform future decisions and strategies. Without a robust system for analyzing results, teams may find themselves operating in the dark, unable to gauge the impact of their efforts.

Two of the most potent solutions to address this challenge involve establishing a robust data infrastructure and embracing split testing. 

Firstly, by investing in a robust data infrastructure, large-scale product teams can ensure the seamless collection, processing, and presentation of relevant metrics in real-time. This empowers teams with comprehensive insights into their product’s performance, enabling informed decision-making based on accurate data.

Secondly, the adoption of split testing and experimentation methodologies allows teams to isolate the impact of specific changes. It is bound to provide them with a fairly clear understanding of what drives favorable outcomes and what their product needs to be successful.

Ignoring customer feedback

As companies grow and their products become more complex, there’s a risk of disconnect between the development team and the end users. This gap can result in product decisions being made based on assumptions rather than real user needs and preferences. Ignoring customer feedback not only diminishes the potential for product improvement, but can also lead to dissatisfaction among customers who feel unheard.

To address this challenge, large-scale product teams should implement several strategies to ensure customer feedback is actively considered and integrated into the product development process.  This can involve setting up various channels for customers to provide feedback, such as surveys, user testing sessions, and direct communication with customer support.

Other than that, companies should invest in a dedicated team or role responsible for managing customer feedback. This team can analyze the feedback, categorize it, and prioritize it based on its potential impact on the product.

Challenging product launch

The culmination of months, if not years, of tireless effort can hinge on how effectively a product is introduced to the market. The challenge arises from the intricate coordination required across various departments and stakeholders, each with their own set of priorities and perspectives. Misalignment among teams can lead to disjointed messaging, technical glitches, or even delays in launch timelines, all of which can significantly impact the product’s reception and subsequent success.

If they want their product launch to be successful, large-scale product teams should adopt a holistic approach. Firstly, meticulous planning and cross-functional collaboration are paramount. Establishing clear communication channels among marketing, engineering, design, sales, and customer support teams is essential. Regular meetings and status updates can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that potential roadblocks are identified and addressed early.

Secondly, conducting thorough testing and quality assurance procedures can mitigate the risk of technical issues arising at the crucial moment. Implementing automated testing processes and robust quality control checks should help identify and resolve potential glitches before they impact the end-user experience. 

Last but not least, having a contingency plan in place can provide a safety net in case unexpected challenges arise during the launch. By anticipating potential issues and having strategies to address them, enterprise product teams can navigate the intricacies of a product launch with greater confidence and resilience.

In conclusion

Enterprise product management presents unique challenges that demand tailored solutions. Neontri, a leader in software development, stands prepared to tackle these problems head-on. With a proven track record of crafting enterprise-grade solutions, we understand the intricacies and demands of large-scale product teams. 

Let Neontri be your partner in transforming the above-mentioned challenges into triumphs, delivering products that shine in complexity and performance. Contact us today, and let’s embark on this product development journey together!

 

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Agata Tomasik
Board Member
Head of Outsourcing
agata.tomasik@neontri.com

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