Most startups today struggle to understand when is it the right time to hire a Product Manager. Initially, the CEO or the founder of the startup can take care of different roles in an organization. Over a period of time, product growth and product management are the two key areas that require an extensive focus from the founder.
Most founders lack specialized skills and dedicated time to manage the entire product cycle and address customer expectations. This is where the need to hire a product manager arises. Here are some other essential factors that will help you decide when you need to hire a product manager:
The expertise of the Founder
If you, as the Founder, have been a Product Manager before or are too attached to the product to hand over its strategic or development responsibilities to someone else, you should stick to hiring Junior Product Managers. This is because you yourself have the skill and expertise to manage a larger team. You can always upgrade to an expert when the team and scale of operations are considerably large and difficult to manage alone.
However, if you are an engineer and the technical aspect of the product interests you more than Product Management, then you should undoubtedly consider hiring someone skilled for the role. Opting for an experienced professional will be more helpful as you need someone who has helped many enterprises overcome the pitfalls of product management.
In addition, it is not just you but also the team you are working with. If the product team has the competence to deal with the development and staging of the product, you do not require a product manager as yet.
The complexity of the product
Hiring a Product Manager is also dependent on the complexity of the product. A CEO cannot devote all his/her time to the product and needs to focus more on the strategy of the product. In this case, a Product Manager comes in handy to take care of the details and guide the team, adhering to the strategies that have been designed.
If the product is not too complicated, there is little detailing involved which the development team can handle itself. Here, you can do without a Product manager. Nevertheless, if your product is complex and you want it to scale quickly, you need to develop a full-fledged and experienced product team headed by an expert Product Manager.
Changing Organisational Structure
When an organization is changing its structure, whether horizontally or vertically, the need to hire more employees always crops up. Here, during a horizontal change in the organizational structure where more departments are added, your startup cannot do without a separate Product Team and that team has to be headed by a Product Manager.
In case of a vertical change in the organization, observed commonly in growing startups, where a new level of management comes in, you need to bring in a competent Product Manager to head the product team. Such are the cases where you cannot do without a Product Manager unless the founder volunteers to take up the role of a full-time one.
Missing Authority on the Product
The product is more likely to fail when there is no one to take ownership of the product. In an organization, if the CEO wants the packaging of the product to vary in different segments but other founding members disagree with it and want it to be uniform throughout, differences can arise. Such disagreements take time to reach a conclusion and competition might already take over the market.
The CEO and the founding team cannot focus on the staging of the product alone since conflicts arise. Due to this missing piece in the order of organizational hierarchy, i.e., Product Manager, the sales of the product can suffer. Therefore, as product decisions start getting complicated, you need a Product Manager who will act as the authority to whom one can reach out to.
Miscommunication with the Sales Team
When the product reaching out to the customers does not align with the message going out with it, it creates confusion amongst the consumers. Such a thing usually happens when the sales team receives a misleading description about the product and they communicate the same to customers across different channels.
So, how does this miscommunication happen and how can you avoid it? Well, when the sales manager does not have a Product Manager to reach out to, confusion and miscommunication are obvious. Again, this is a missing piece which can only be addressed by hiring a Product Manager.
Poor Interaction with customers
When your organization is involved in a B2B product business, direct customers interactions is one of the most reliable way to get product feedback. Research and development teams here might do a great job but in order to bring the product on the right path, even the R&D needs to align its development towards customer pain points.
So, when you, as a founder, are unable to coordinate with the customers and need an expert to do so for the organization, you are ready to hire a Product Manager. They proactively engage with customers and transform their complex needs into simple product features.
New Product Development & Launch
When you are planning to launch a new product into the market and know that it can still be optimized, you need to hire your first Product Manager. For instance, prioritizing the right features in your MVP (minimum viable products) quicker requires the expertise and business sense of a product manager.
Additionally, the PM will ensure that the product attracts the target customers right after its launch and will keep track of its reception in the market.
The above observations about the competency of the founder, the complexity of the product, lack of authority, changing organizational structure, miscommunication with the sales department, and the inability to interact with the customers are common and in such situations, you need a product manager to sort and manage everything. Moreover, launching a new product into the market requires the direction, experience, and business sense of a professional product manager.
When hiring a PM, you need to look for an experienced person who can identify solutions to problems that only the founders can sight. Do not avoid the costs involved in hiring a product manager since the increase in revenue that you realize from hiring the right product manager is worth the expense.