What is Product Management Operations (ProductOps) and Why is it Important?

Product Management
November 18, 2022
5 mins read
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In large organizations, “operations” (such as DevOps, Sales Ops, etc.) refer to the strategic work of managing the inner workings of the business so it runs as efficiently as possible. These are activities that support various teams to do their tasks better by removing roadblocks.

Product management operations (aka ProductOps) does that for product teams.

In general, to facilitate the smooth development of a product, operations management teams build workflows and processes for easy communication and sharing of resources within various teams and members.

The daily responsibilities of the product and operations management teams vary by organization.

For instance, product management operations also help take care of onboarding processes for new team members in some organizations. However, in other companies, it’s responsible for collecting market data. The product management and operations teams should decide on the area of focus before the development starts.

Let's dive in further by understanding what a product operations manager does.

What does a Product Operations Manager do?

A product operations manager (POM) makes it easy for the product team to develop a product or its features.

They do that by taking care of the following things:

  1. Data collection and analysis: POMs spend time and effort collecting, cleaning, and visualizing data which is handed over to the product manager (PM). This includes facilitating customer interviews and managing that process end-to-end.
  2. A/B Testing: POMs are more hands-on during the process, taking care of every step to ensure it is carried out successfully to generate accurate insights from test data.
  3. Market research: It involves collecting different kinds of data that will help the product team build the right strategy. Although the PM makes decisions, the POM does the groundwork and sets up the pipelines.
  4. Managing tools and workflows: It is crucial to keep your tech stack and processes updated to remain competitive. This involves a lot of research and testing which is taken care of by the product operations team.

In the above points, we mentioned what the product manager does briefly. Let’s understand the difference between both roles in a bit more detail.

Product Manager vs Product Operations Manager

What’s the difference between product operations vs product management?

Product management builds and/or maintains a product. Product operations help product management do that.

The responsibilities of the POM (and the product operations team by extension) facilitate effective product management as it involves researching, testing, and collecting data that the product management team can make decisions on.

Product management vs product operations also have different areas of focus. The former focuses on the product whereas the latter focuses on the processes and groundwork that facilitate the former. 

Let’s look at seven reasons why product management operations are necessary for your organization.

7 reasons why Product Management Operations (ProductOps) is important

1. To own and maintain the tech stack

The product management process needs various kinds of tools. For instance, collaboration tools, task management tools, document-sharing tools, etc. are just some of them. Furthermore, each of those categories has many options and choosing the right one can be challenging.

Apart from the features and functionalities, any tool in the product management tech stack should integrate well with others to build a seamless workflow. However, testing each tool to find out whether they are a good fit takes a lot of time which the product manager doesn’t have.

The right tools are chosen for the product management process by operations management. Not only do product management operations take care of that, but it also updates the workflow by adding (or removing) appropriate tools. 

2. To generate data-backed insights for the product team

The product management team acts on the basis of data. They use data-backed insights to take action.

Generating data-backed insights involve setting up pipelines to collect data, gathering data, cleaning the datasets, visualizing it, and forwarding it from operations to product management.

If the members of the product team were to do this, the product development timeline will be much longer than ideal. Not to mention the product manager will be overwhelmed with these additional responsibilities, tools, and processes.

The product operations management team takes up this tedious task. This helps the product management team to come up with better insights.

The operations team can bring insights from various analytics tools to one place through Zeda.io.

3. To strengthen the product feedback loop

Effective SaaS product management processes focus on the customer. Happy customers don’t just stick around longer but they also buy more and spread the good word about your brand.

The product management operations team ensures that there is a process in place that keeps the customers happy. It could be as simple as tracking the product’s usage through analytics tools to having one-on-one conversations with the customers to gather detailed feedback.

In some cases, the POM also examines the feedback and forwards the actionable ones to the product team for their inclusion into the product as a feature or functionality.

In the image below, the POM oversees all the steps in the feedback loop except for ‘Implement’ which is handled by the development team.

Customer feedback loop

Zeda.io facilitates this by bringing customer feedback from various sources to one place.

 customer feedback from various sources

4. To standardize routine tasks and processes

Tasks such as recording the wins and losses of a sprint, asking routine questions to the testers, and documenting the developers’ notes are time-consuming. Another challenge with these tasks is that not all of them can be delegated to the product management operations team completely.

Still, the operations team can simplify these tasks by producing checklists and frameworks that can save time, so the product management team doesn’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel.

This also helps both teams to identify opportunities to improve these repeating processes in the long run.

Zeda.io helps product operations managers by allowing them to create documentation from templates and share it with the whole team easily.

To standardize routine tasks and processes

5. To create and maintain resources for the product team

The information from the repeating tasks that we touched upon above need to be backed up in the right format. This enables various members of the cross-functional product management and operations team to revisit them if needed.

Outlines, release notes for different teams, building survey frameworks, standard operating procedures, roadmap formats, etc., are created by the product operations team to facilitate that.

The product management operations team creates and maintains six categories of product documentation:

To create and maintain resources for the product team

Another crucial resource that POMs are responsible for maintaining is internal and external knowledge bases. Its importance is highlighted in the next section.

6. To improve onboarding of new team members

When new team members join in, they have to learn how things work. The tools, how they are used, the line of communication, the workflows, etc. At the same time, they have to settle in by adopting the new work culture as well.

Onboarding takes time because of that.

However, it can be made easier, faster, and more efficient by creating detailed internal knowledge bases. New team members can rely on those to learn anything they want (from company policies to job-specific tips) at their own pace.

Furthermore, the existing team members won’t have to constantly be there to answer all their questions.

7. To ensure intra-organizational alignment

A few times earlier in this post we touched upon how product management operations help collect and visualize data. Apart from helping various team members make the right calls in regard to the product, that data improves transparency.

The operations team also works with other departments to share standard operating procedures, playbooks, guidelines, etc., which keeps everyone on the same page.

Zeda.io integrates with various apps, making it easier for POMs to establish transparency through the entire product management process.

To ensure intra-organizational alignment

Through the above efforts, product management operations align the efforts of the product management team with other departments and the organization’s vision.

Summing up

Product management operations serve as an important support system for product management.

Two crucial things that product management operations do are:

  1. Setting up pipelines that collect and visualize data for the product management team
  2. Building an efficient workflow for faster product development

Zeda.io is a super app for product management that brings all processes under one roof and makes it easier for product operations to continually improve them.

Start your free trial today.

FAQs

  1. What does a product ops manager do?

Product operations managers (POMs) oversee the processes that help the product manager build a better product faster. For example, POMs set up pipelines that collect data from customers.

  1. Do you need product operations?

Yes. In fact, every product team already performs the tasks that come under it. The difference is that not all organizations have made a clear distinction between product management vs product operations.

  1. Is product management part of operations?

The difference between product management vs operations is that product management is responsible for the product whereas operations own the processes within it. In other words, the latter controls and determines the actions of the former.

  1. What is product operations management?

Product operations management is a process that assists the product management team to make data-backed decisions.

  1. What are the 3 major areas of product management?

Discovery, planning, and development are the three major areas of product management.

  1. Is product management an operational role?

Product management is a process that directs the operations of the product operations team.

  1. What is a product operations job?

Product operations do the legwork such as testing tools, setting up pipelines, creating workflows, and collecting data that help the product management team.

  1. What is the difference between operations vs product management?

Operations is a part of product management. It ensures that all the workflows within product management are efficient.

  1. Differentiate between product management vs operations management.

Product management oversees the processes that build and maintain a desirable product. Operations management ensures that those processes are efficient by supporting them through building workflows, collecting data, choosing the right tools, etc.

  1. Why is operations management important?

By building faster workflows and transparent processes you can improve the product lifecycle with operations management.

Jacob Koshy
Product Marketer at Zeda.io
A marketer in love with SaaS products. When away from work, I'm either spending time with my cats or adding miles on my motorcycle.
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