There are over 50 product management frameworks and methodologies out there.
But not all of them will work for your specific product, workflow, and team. In fact, some of them are outdated and can’t be properly applied by today’s product teams.
We’ve selected 10 of the product management frameworks and methodologies that are most relevant within today’s market. This guide will help you decide which you should use on your own products by taking into account the team, processes, and resources you have.
Read on to see how they work and when it’s best to use each framework or methodology.
How it works: Google's Design Sprint methodology is a six-phase process for solving problems and testing new product ideas. It involves a series of structured activities such as understanding the problem, sketching solutions, prototyping, and validating. The goal is to quickly validate a concept and get feedback from users before committing to a full product or service launch.
When to use it: The Design Sprint methodology can be used by product teams of all sizes and industries who want to quickly and effectively solve complex problems, test new ideas, and create innovative solutions. It’s particularly useful if your team is working on new products or making major updates to existing products.
How it works: The Product Team Competencies framework is a model that outlines the skills and knowledge required for effective product management. It covers areas such as strategic thinking, customer insights, product vision, and delivery. The framework is designed to help product teams identify their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s an ideal tool for professional development as well.
When to use it: You can use this product management framework when you’re building product teams or evaluating the effectiveness of existing product teams. You’ll get just the right structure to spot the skills and competencies your team needs to successfully build and launch a product. Think of it as a tool that helps you level up your team!
How it works: Nir Eyal's Hook Model is a framework for designing habit-forming products. The model relies on four stages: Trigger, Action, Investment, and Variable Reward. It’s commonly used by product managers and teams who want to launch new products designed for creating strong user habits by encouraging them to engage repeatedly with a product.
When to use it: The model’s perfect for creating virality. This means you can use it for building products that can (and should) create repetitive engagement and increase user retention. In other words, if you want people to keep coming back to your product or re-purchasing often, this is the framework to rely on.
How it works: The Product-Market matrix is a tool used to help product managers decide what the strategic growth of their product is going to look like in a given market. It helps you do this by organizing potential growth strategies into four categories: market penetration, market development, product development, and diversification.
When to use it: Is your product’s growth stuck on a plateau? Use this matrix to find out the current position of your products in the market and learn how it can grow realistically. Also consider this matrix whenever you need to make strategic decisions when it comes to product development, market expansion, resource allocation, and diversification.
Note: The effectiveness of this matrix depends on the nature of your product and the current market situation. Hence, you should always use it together with other product management tools, frameworks, or methodologies.
How it works: There’s no single framework for how to use storytelling in product management. Instead, think of crafting a narrative that outlines the user's journey and how your product can solve their problems. This includes identifying the user's pain points, defining the problem, highlighting the solution, and demonstrating the benefits of your product. By creating a compelling story, you can effectively communicate the value of your product to stakeholders, investors, and potential customers. We recommend putting together your own storytelling framework but here are some key points to consider:
When to use it: Is your upcoming or existing product lacking a narrative? Use storytelling to build that narrative around the problem your product fixes, your target audience, and how the product can make their lives better. Generally speaking, multiple departments alongside your product team can use storytelling to better communicate the product's value proposition, generating interest, and building a stronger brand identity.
How it works: The 5 Cs of pricing are essentially just five questions that will help you set a correct and competitive price for your products:
When to use it: If you’re struggling to define the correct price for your product, take the time to answer these five questions in detail. This framework is more complex than it seems as the answers often require a complete market or competitor analysis. For instance, to be confident about a customer’s willingness to pay the price you ask for, you’ll need to run target customer surveys or interviews.
How it works: The Shape Up framework is a product development methodology created by Basecamp that emphasizes clear project scopes, set timelines, and a focus on solving the most pressing problems. It’s designed to help product managers and teams deliver high-quality work without getting demotivated by excessive planning or endless meetings.
When to use it: This approach is best suited for small, autonomous teams working on software projects. It's particularly useful when a project is complex, ambiguous, or has a high level of uncertainty. Also note it’s worth using when you’re looking to focus on outcomes, rather than outputs.
How it works: This framework is largely by all kinds of teams (not just product) to understand the needs and motivations of customers. It focuses on the "job" a customer is trying to accomplish, rather than just the product or service they use.
When to use it: The JTBD framework can help businesses identify opportunities for innovation and product development. It’s primarily used in product development and marketing to understand the underlying reasons why consumers use a product or service. Use it to identify innovation opportunities, create better messaging, or design products that better meet the needs of your target customers.
How it works: The RICE scoring model is a product prioritization framework used to determine which features or projects to focus on first. RICE stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It helps teams make data-driven decisions by considering the potential impact of a feature, the effort required to implement it, and the estimated confidence.
When to use it: Simply put, this is one of the best and most versatile ways to prioritize feature or product development. It will tell you exactly which projects to pursue and in what order, based on actual data and past results.
How it works: Product-led growth is a framework that prioritizes the product experience as the key driver of customer acquisition, retention, and expansion, rather than relying solely on traditional marketing and sales tactics. Its main goal? To help you build a product that’s easy to use and brings a clear value proposition in front of your customers. This can also lead to increased adoption and organic growth.
When to use it: This product management framework is particularly useful if you offer self-service products (where users can sign up and start using the product without needing to go through a sales team). It's also handy for companies that prioritize user experience above all else and want to create a product that customers can easily adopt and use.
In the majority of cases, you’ll need to rely on multiple frameworks or methodologies to successfully launch a product. That’s because you need a separate one for product development, idea validation, prioritization, pricing, and even long-term growth.
This said, note that the product management frameworks and methodologies we’ve listed above each help you with a slightly different use case. Also, some (like the Shape Up framework) are better suited for tech teams while a framework like the JTBD one can be used universally.
As a final note, we recommend testing each of the frameworks or methodologies listed in conjunction with one another to identify the best possible approach for your own products.