4 Signs That Your Company Is About to Reorganize Product Management
October 9, 2018

4 Signs That Your Company Is About to Reorganize Product Management

by Brian de Haaff

“Reorg.” This word tends to spark a ripple of fear at work. But there is a type of organizational change that is happening at many of the world’s largest enterprises and it is not scary at all. In fact, it is something we can all get behind. I am talking about a transformational effort to better serve customers.

According to research by Gartner, 80 percent of formerly IT-centric organizations will experience radical restructuring as they adopt product management by 2023. Of course, I did not need a study to tell me this. Our team at Aha! sees this with our customers all the time.

Companies are investing in product management today in order to dramatically improve the way they innovate and serve customers in the future.

Consider the environment of today’s marketplace. Customers expect every company to deliver seamless experiences, which means that nearly every company must build solutions to meet those needs. For many organizations, this means rethinking product management as an enterprise-wide transformation.

These kinds of reorgs are rooted in delivering better products, but companies do not usually talk about the big change in those terms. For example, customers often start using Aha! because they are embarking on major transformation initiatives, such as investing in new technologies and digital infrastructures or moving from selling point products to offering bundled solutions. But the reality is that product management is usually being transformed in the process as well.

Here are the signs your company will (or needs to) reimagine product management and how your teams operate:

The customer is an afterthought
You hear a lot of customer-first platitudes, but those words are starting to ring hollow. You want to feel like you are giving the customer what they need, but there is no way to tell if you are really accomplishing this. No one is dedicated to owning the customer experience — talking to users, getting input from customer-facing teams, seeing patterns, and using it all to come up with solutions to real problems.

Technology is driving the work
This lack of customer focus also occurs when organizations lead with the technology — where both teams and workflow are organized around your technology stack. This might lead to the launch of a feature that is technically feasible but not customer desired.

The franken-portfolio rises
Uh-oh, something is creeping from the shadows — it is the looming figure of the franken-portfolio. And yes, your organization should be worried. No one is standardizing the way product is built, so different teams are operating independently across the organization. Coordination be damned. This is particularly problematic in large enterprises that have grown over time via mergers and acquisitions.

There are no product teams
A new feature is flying out the door, but did anyone tell support? How about marketing? There is no internal advocate for the product who considers the impact of new launches across cross-functional teams. And the customer feels this pain too. What you need is someone who not only puts the product first but also everyone else in the organization.

If the above problems exist at your organization, a product management transformation might be coming to a group near you.

So, if you see those warning signs happening, there is no reason to wait for the transformation or reorg decree — you can start prioritizing the customer experience right now. This means acting as the responsive product expert on the team, helping everyone involved understand the customer’s wants and needs.

And when that product management reorg does come, do not fear it — embrace it. Once you and the team shift your focus from managing projects and building capabilities to acting as guardians of the entire customer experience, everyone will benefit. It will be a transformation that will bring enormous value to both the customers and the team.

How have you seen product management change over time?

Big transformation requires the right tool. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Aha!

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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