Often in product management you hear about how to take a concept from scratch to release and the various stages product managers need to go through to make that happen. This is a very exciting time as you get to take a thought and really develop it into a real thing and see it launch for users to take advantage of and see a business grow. While this can be an exciting part of a product journey, a new set of challenges start to exist once a product launches and stabilizes and begins to creep into maturity. What is different about product management for mature products? There are many different product management problems that now need to be solved instead of focusing on the large blocks required to launch a product you know how have the challenges of growing a business!
Common challenges product managers face when working with product management for mature product is that the initial focus and pain point the product set out to solve, theoretically, should have been solved on the launch of the product. So where do you go from there? Well, this is when the product management strategy kicks in on identifying new goals and product objectives to drive the product and business forward. With product management, objectives can be short term such as simply to get the product launched, and once launched, get your first one hundred customers or hit a specific revenue target. These objectives once hit should be updated to align your product roadmap and team to focus on achieving new objectives that grow the product and business. This is where product managers really need to master the art of communication as early on in a company and product everyone is laser focused on launching a product and scaling the initial business. Once you complete this, the last thing you want to do is plateau and go into maintenance mode as a product team. This would be the quickest way to kill your growth mode. Product managers need to quickly assess what are the blockers for additional growth and set product roadmaps in place to deliver what is needed to stay in growth mode as long as possible.
How to accomplish extended growth mode if you are product management for mature products? Here are five tips to keep in mind if you are in this situation:
1. Product management tactics will remain the same when you are working with a mature product as you are with a newly created product. The difference is that the focus needs to be shifted to the next objective. Product management is about maintaining a vision of where the product is heading that a team and customer base can get behind. Always maintain a roadmap that shows where the product is going and communicate this across the stakeholders.
2. As a product manager, you need to identify and track your key metrics that grow your business. To stay in growth mode, you need to know what grows your business and what product touch points control the sensitivities of those metrics. For example, conversion rate and churn rate are very common metrics for business team growths. If you know these numbers you need to focus on increasing them month after month and working on the features that solve the specific pain points within those metrics. If you can focus on the data it will tell you a story of what is working and what is not working. Be open to listening to the data and let it drive your features. The good news is that product management for mature products now has data to use and are not guessing on what the metrics might be. You have data, start to use it as this is a huge advantage over the earlier stages.
3. Customers still know best. Hopefully to get to product maturity you completed user interviews and learned about the pain points that were experienced in you space that your product set out to solve. This tactic is still a winner when it comes to growing a mature product and as a product management weapon to defining your product roadmap. Ask users in trial what they think about your product and what would make them sign up now for it? Ask users who quit using your product why they stopped and what changes could you make it bring them back? Listen to your users and fine tune your product offering to continue to be in growth mode.
4. Track the industry you are in because business constantly changes and your product may have solved the pain point at the time of launch but over time your customer needs may change and to stay in growth mode you need to change with the industry to continue to offer features that are up to date with their needs. This can be challenging as product management for mature products may not be industry experts but it requires you to have advisors that are to ensure feedback about the changes in the space funnel into your product roadmap.
5. Competition is constant and if you were ahead of your competitors when you launched you may not be anymore unless you keep track of what they offer and continue to innovate your offering to stay ahead of them. Perhaps you did not have a true competitor but somewhere someone could be working on a competitive offering and so be constantly aware of the competitive landscape is critical to staying in growth mode. You cannot fall behind existing competition or lose traction to new ones. Product managers need to be constantly researching alternatives to their offering to learn what is available and what they need to do to remain at the top of the game. Product management for mature products will see constant nipping at the heels especially as you get larger and larger with smaller companies able to offer a similar product for less and so a challenge you need to solve in your product roadmap is to how to always remain competitive with your market segment as this occurs.
As you can see from the tips product management for mature products is similar to a new product in that the tactics that launch a product and the process of product planning can be used to grow a product however the challenges a product manager faces when in growth mode as a mature product are different and require product managers to be diligent in the tactics and focus the team on ways to grow the business beyond the initial focus of product launch.