May 30, 2017

Why #2 : Why do Product Managers encounter delays


No matter how hard we try, we just can’t control their occurrence as much as we wish could. According to Rita Mulcahy, almost 66% of the projects fail. Moreover, almost 70% of the respondents who had been involved in a project they knew would fail right from the start.

Delays are pretty common in the business world. Be it while manufacturing a product, building a software, or performing a service, delays are bound to happen.

If we dig deeper, however, we can easily realize that what really matters is not the fact that they happened but rather how the company reacts to them.

How harmful are delays to the company?

According to Diana Gavilán Bouzas and Jesús García de Madariaga of the marketing and market research department at the Complutense University in Madrid, the more people wait for a product, the higher its perceived value gets. But how are things on the business side?

Even if product delays can play out quite well for the company, they’re not always the most welcome news to PMs. Most of the time, the delay is not a marketing strategy to build up the hype for the release of the next first-rocket-on-the-Sun. Rather, it is because something has gone wrong. And things go wrong quite often in the product world.

Delays are usually harmful to the company. Harmful in the sense where they cause a loss of resources: Materials, time, energy, and even some of the company’s image.

How can a Product Manager foresee delays?

How can you know that what you’re doing will cause a delay? Well, one thing you can do is start reflecting on what it is that you are doing. The first step to fixing a problem is finding its origins.

*Is your team spending more or less time on their tasks than agreed on?

*Are they expanding beyond the task’s scope without running it by you for approval?

*Maybe the steps to complete a certain task were not clearly stated in your original plan?

*What if some members of your team are not as efficient as you thought they would be?  

Or maybe you didn’t allocate enough time for them to get familiar with the task before having them go full on it.

Sometimes it’s simply because you need goods or services that you didn’t budget for in your plan. These are just a handful of simple reasons that might be hindering the progress of the making of the product.

What is actually causing the delays?

Digging even deeper, as a Product Manager, you need to know the exact cause of these delays. We’ve put together a list of some potential reasons that might be the root of your delays:

  • Inadequate estimations (budgets, timeframes, human resources).
  • The complexity of the task (compared to the competencies of the person performing it).
  • Unexpected events/results.
  • Organizational strategy prioritizing some projects over other due to strategic objectives.
  • Inadequate coordination and cooperation by team members.
  • Lack of proper planning.

The thing is that, in a project, everything is related to everything else! That’s why sometimes, certain causes may be due to an interaction of multiple other causes.

One thing these reasons have in common, however, is the fact they are are related to miscommunication. Meaning that it’s either because the information was not properly communicated, or a call-to-action with a blurred deadline/priority status, or anything within that spectrum.

If we keep asking ourselves “Why do PMs keep having delays?”, the answer, in the end, would totally be: blockers.

But what are blockers? What is causing them? How can we prevent them?

All these questions are answered in our part 3 of the serie!