Modern software teams, especially those within product-led companies, are under increasing pressure to improve alignment among the many teams connected to the product development lifecycle. To do this, they need to streamline various processes across the board.
Here’s where product operations, or product ops, comes in.
This blog post addresses the high-level ins and outs of product ops. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of what product ops is and why it's such an essential part of modern software organizations.
Product ops is a relatively new field. It emerged as a somewhat parallel concept to DevOps. Chris Butler, the co-founder of the Product Ops Alliance, describes the product ops role as “product managing the product management experience.”
In general, product ops is the intersection of product management with operations. It enables product-led organizations to add an operational complement to product management to solve problems, remove friction, streamline processes, and ultimately create better outcomes for the company.
Product ops involve various activities and processes that enable cross-functional product teams to manage a product’s life cycle effectively. It can cover everything from product strategy and roadmap planning to execution, delivery, and post-launch optimization.
The Product Ops Alliance has identified five key pillars of product ops:
The product ops team is responsible for optimizing the activities involved in product development. They also help align the various product teams to improve communication, collaboration, user feedback loops, and product delivery.
Further, the team provides critical data and actionable insights that enable product managers to make better decisions about the product’s development, management, updates, and improvements.
Product managers can also spend more time focused on these core activities while product ops manage other related tasks such as:
Today, software development is more complex than ever before. Product development often involves multiple teams across various functions, including R&D, engineering, marketing, sales, and customer support. These teams work on different parts of the product at different stages of its lifecycle, and all play a crucial role in ensuring its functionality and quality.
More teams involved inevitably leads to more people and moving parts, which leads to greater difficulty managing the overall product development process. Increasing amounts of product data and user feedback only add to this complexity. And it’s precisely at this juncture that product ops serves to make the greatest impact.
The product ops team ensures that the various groups involved in the product development lifecycle across the organization work in lockstep towards a common goal. Product ops enable the cross-functional team to operate more collaboratively by centralizing all the processes involved in managing a product development lifecycle, from the earliest stages of feedback gathering through the successful execution of a post-launch strategy.
There are numerous benefits to adopting a product ops approach, including:
By bringing all the different teams involved in the product development lifecycle under one umbrella, the product ops role helps improve communication and collaboration, leading to improved workflows and a higher-quality product.
Product ops standardize and centralize the various activities and processes involved in creating and managing a product. It thus helps to communicate product changes and speed up feedback loops. Consequently, potential problems can be identified earlier and addressed more quickly to improve the quality and customer-centricity of the final product.
The product ops function provides practical, relevant, and “clean” data that enables product management and other groups to make more informed and data-driven product decisions.
They also provide information about key trends that product management can use to experiment and test new ideas, investigate issues, and ensure continuous improvement in product development processes and product quality.
One of the critical mandates of the product operations role is to improve collaboration between the various team members involved in the product development lifecycle.
Through higher quality collaboration, these cross-functional teams can be more effective in optimizing the overall product experience, ultimately leading to happier customers, improved customer satisfaction, and higher retention rates.
Since the product operations team sits at the intersection of multiple groups, they must not only have stellar communications skills, but also, ideally, the following characteristics:
Product Operations teams should be proficient in data gathering, data analysis, and measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance over time.
Additionally, experience using dashboards and visual reports is valuable for regularly communicating essential information to stakeholders.
They should also have an affinity for improving operations, standardizing processes, and reducing friction throughout the product development lifecycle.
Simultaneously, this means comfortability with presenting information, process creation or re-design, and problem resolution skills.
Finally, they should have previous experience excelling in a hyper-cross functional role. This is essential for the product operations team to understand what factors (across teams) drive product-led growth.
This will allow the team to find areas of opportunity to boost revenues while also enhancing productivity.
For many organizations, keeping countless internal stakeholders aligned on what product change is reaching which users is an enormous and growing challenge. When product ops teams are tasked with helping to solve this problem, many turn to LaunchNotes.
LaunchNotes is the easy way to securely connect various audience(s) with the product development lifecycle in a personalized and automated way.
LaunchNotes helps your customer-facing teams communicate better by centralizing all product change into a dedicated channel. It also allows product and product ops teams to share roadmaps with targeted audiences and even collect, synthesize, and share customer feedback.