A lack of communication, clarity and transparency often leads to disastrous outcomes in product management, even if the problem seems minor. That's because small mistakes can cause big problems in product management. The good news is you can avoid these issues by following a few best practices. Here are some tips for conquering the Achilles' heel of product management.

Pay Attention to Minor Details (and Communicate)

It's important to communicate and pay attention to small details to ensure your project runs smoothly. If you don't, your project can go awry. In fact, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ran into huge issues with its Mars Climate Observer back in the late 1990s. On December 11th, 1998, NASA launched a robotic space probe to study the atmosphere and climate of Mars. But the mission soon became a failure until the Climate Orbiter's insertion into Mars' orbit on September 23rd, 1999.

NASA lost communication with the small spacecraft due to a minor flaw: a failure to convert pounds to Newton metric units. The spacecraft's software based its calculations on the wrong metric system due to human error. As a result, the spacecraft was entering the Martian atmosphere too low and likely burned up as it approached the planet.

It only took less than a year for that very small mistake to create a huge problem. This minor mistake cost NASA $125 million--the value of the spacecraft at that time---and triggered a domino effect of canceled projects. It's a lesson learned that communication is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page when you're managing a project.

Don't Make Light of Any Mistakes (and Avoid Making it a Habit)

It's a good practice never to make light of any mistakes and ignore the trouble you encounter. Instead, it's important to solve any problems as soon as possible. But it's also important to note that failure happens. The goal is to avoid making it a habit. Just like NASA, the same issues occur among members of Uiza--the leading startup that offers specialized video streaming solutions. But these issues typically don't last because Uiza encourages its members to try and fail once, analyze the cause, share the experience to avoid making that mistake a habit.

In fact, this occurred just a few months ago when Uiza launched a new graphical user interface (GUI). Some issues the team noticed that caused bugs in the GUI--and could have lead to a disaster---included:

•         No documentation that outlines requirements

•         No technical design

•         A lack of evaluation between the quality control department and the dev-ops team

•         General requests from product owners

•         Poor or non-existent communication between developers and product owners

After identifying the issues, the discussed the next steps to fix the issue, including holding a meeting to start the project, documentation, consistent and ongoing communication, narrowing down product owner requests and including the user interface and user experience (UI/UX) behaviors in detail. The team also became more active and enjoyed the work. This lead to significant improvements. Thus, it's important to identify problems as they arise, address them and communicate to promote transparency. These actions help prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Don't Make the Same Mistake Twice

While mistakes do occur, it's important not to make the same mistake twice. Instead, learn from your mishaps and avoid making the failure a habit. You have to take even minor mistakes seriously. Instead of concealing yourself from the mistake you made, confront it yourself. Share the experience with your team, too. When you're transparent with the mistakes you've made, you can give your team the opportunity to share solutions with you to better solve the problem. This helps you avoid making that same mistake twice.

Final Thoughts

Your product management problems don't have to become bad habits. By paying attention to the details and following these best practices, you can avoid falling into big product management issues during your project.

Credited to: Cici (cici@uiza.io)