Optimal Number of Products to Work On
Question: "How many products can a product manager work on effectively at one time? In my experience I've met several product managers and all of them were working at several (from 2 to 5) products at the same time. But all the products were not huge. What is the optimal number of products to work on at one time?"
Answer: From a product planning perspective it is common and reasonable to have product planners work simultaneously on three Market Requirements Documents (MRD). One MRD is being created for a brand new product and the two other MRDs are being maintained for existing products. Accordingly and from an effective work perspective, the number of products to work on at one time is three.
It is challenging for humans to multitask activities, and that is why people prefer to focus on a sole task or sequentially perform a few select tasks. The inherent difficulty of multitasking hinges principally on humans' limited ability to maintain a high level of cerebral focus when confronted with a multitude of dynamically changing issues. To a lesser degree, fatigue and lack of resources (primarily time) are also contributing factors to multitasking hardships.
Accordingly and from an optimal work perspective, the optimal number of products to work on at one time is one.