Dealing with Deadlines
Anyone who has worked in product management has been exposed to deadlines. Deadlines we impose by ourselves, but unfortunately most commonly deadlines set by stakeholders or 3rd parties .
Even as human beings, we often want more than what we have or what we can do. I think its part of our nature. For Product Managers this is definitely the case. I don’t think this is a bad thing overall; that drive and want for more can actually make a Product Manager great.
To give an analogy, think about going to a nice restaurant. You look at the menu and you see the rib eye steak. It looks great and you love steak. But then there is also salmon fillet which you also love. What do you do?
You could get both, but that would be too much food.
You have to chose, you have to make a trade off. As the Product Manager of your stomach, you have to decide which is the highest priority, and which will deliver your taste glands the most value.
Deadlines & Stakeholders
This is no different when a stakeholder or external party wants or ‘needs’ something delivered in a set period of time. More often than not in a period of time that is not doable, or unknown. In this situation, it usually means making a decision between competing priorities or extending the deadline.
The Product Manager in this case cannot make this the stakeholders problem. As in, if you take the analogy above, I could not tell the restaurant that my love of both steak and salmon is their problem.
I think in these situations, the Product Manager should not make these decisions on their own, but should also not delegate or pass on the problem. The Product Manager should make this a shared problem with the team. Along with the team, they can explore all the options together. An example on a deliverable might be:
- Adding more people to the team (if feasible)
- Changing the date
- Relaxing or simplifying requirements (only support iOS and deliver Android later to example)
I think sharing problems with the team if you are a Product Manager has many benefits. For start, it helps to build that strong relationship between product and development teams that is crucial. I think it also allows the development team get some insights into the challenges of being a Product Manager. From the Product Manager side, it can also help to get a fresh pair of eyes on the problem or get some help thinking out side the box.
In summary, I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting more. Deadlines are an unavoidable part of Product Management. I think with good stakeholder management skills and managing expectations, sharing problems with the rest of the team and even letting people into your vision and what your needs are and working on improving planning can all help to mitigate the risks of deadlines.
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