The Product Management Process: 6 Essential Steps

Product Management
November 14, 2022
5 mins read
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We are living in an age where things change pretty rapidly. For instance, think about the type of clothes you are wearing now to what you wore a few years ago. The same paradigm applies to SaaS products.

This demands a method of product management that can generate value for the end-users while evolving with time and accommodating new demands. 

Contrary to popular belief, a product management process is not just for the company that builds or improves a product for its customers. It is for the end-users as well.

A product management process helps with the following things:

  1. Helps learn about the pain points and expectations of the customers.
  2. Understands the impact of the problem on the customers’ lives.
  3. Makes the customer a part of the product development process.
  4. Gives the customer what they want instead of what the executives guessed.
  5. Uses market data and user feedback to determine the features of the product.
  6. Enables the development team to continue improving the product.
  7. Achieves product-market fit faster while saving resources.
  8. Streamlines collaboration across various departments in the organization.
  9. Aligns the effort of each team member with the company’s mission.

In other words, a product management process is built around serving the evolving needs of the customer in an ever-changing market.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the product management process, with tips and tools that will help you execute them effectively.

1. Identifying customers’ needs and managing ideas

This first step will help you identify the pain points, requirements, and expectations of your customer to come up with product or feature ideas that meet or exceed their needs.

It starts with you asking in-depth questions to your customers about their challenges and requirements. Here is what you can do:

  1. Segment your customers based on various use cases.
  2. Create surveys for each of those segments.
  3. Reach out to them via appropriate channels.
  4. Incentivize this to get more responses.

The challenge product management teams often encounter is that they get feedback and feature requests from their customers through multiple sources. To save time, Zeda.io collates all responses from various sources like SurveyMonkey and Typeform.

Furthermore, all responses are automatically classified based on parameters set by you which will make them immediately actionable.

After thoroughly understanding the pain points and expectations of your customers, you need to take a look at the current solutions available to them by conducting market research in the following ways:

  1. Include every product that solves the problem you solve.
  2. Read their reviews on sites like G2, Capterra, etc.
  3. Try them out to find their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Learn about new workflows and technologies.
  5. Join different communities and follow pages on various platforms.
  6. Follow your competitors.

All of this data needs to be examined from different angles to get good ideas. You can facilitate that with your team by: 

  1. Sharing all of the data collected above.
  2. Encouraging everyone to share their insights.
  3. Keeping the needs of the customer at the center.

You can invite as many collaborators to your product management workspace on Zeda.io:

By the end of this step, you will end up with the following valuables:

  1. A deeper understanding of the customer’s problem.
  2. Understanding your position in the market.
  3. Ideas soft-tested for feasibility and viability.

2. Problem-solving vision

Here, you start wrestling with the problem at hand. Not only do you have to match (or exceed) your customers’ expectations, but also you have to outperform your competitors.

The simplest process here is to write a narrative where you solve your customer’s problem successfully. To write that story, you need to assess the state of the customer when their problem is unsolved by measuring the following things:

  1. Tangible impacts: loss of time, money, etc.
  2. Intangible impacts: stress, frustration, etc.

To come up with feasible and viable solutions, you need to understand the conditions where the problem exists:

  1. Time in the calendar when it becomes very apparent.
  2. The activity during which it appears.
  3. The current methods of dealing with the problem.
  4. Challenges associated with those methods.

This is where visualizing the features or the functionalities of the product can really help. Zeda.io facilitates this by allowing teams to create wireframes within minutes.

The next objective is to ensure that your solutions are better than the ones on the market. You can do so by soft-testing your ideas in the following ways:

  1. The number of resources saved (in terms of time, money, and labor).
  2. Resources needed by the customer to use this solution.
  3. State of the customer during and after using the solution.

A simpler way to ensure your proposed solution is better than the existing ones is by comparing user flows which you can easily build in Zeda.io as well.

This step will give you the following information:

  1. All your ideas and hypotheses will be tested.
  2. This step will help you come up with even better ideas.
  3. Take the best possible solution to move on to the next step.

3. Creating a strategic roadmap

Now that you have a viable idea at hand, time to determine deliverables and set deadlines for the same. Go for a theme-based roadmap that will help the product management adhere to the organizational mission and the product’s vision.

Here is how you use them:

  1. Use a template to keep things simpler.
  2. The theme should reflect the broader goal.
  3. Epics and stories should reflect the features and functionalities.

After you create the roadmap and add subsequent details to it such as product features, share it with your team members and stakeholders for their input. However, keep the following things in mind:

  1. Get inputs from each of them in regard to the laid-out plan.
  2. Try to limit the number of editors as much as possible.

Zeda.io makes it simple for you to create roadmaps. Go to the ‘Features’ dashboard, click on the ‘Create a Roadmap’ button at the top-right, and follow the prompt.

You can add North Star Metrics to your product or sprint roadmap as they:

  1. Give clarity and set expectations.
  2. Reflect impact and progress.
  3. Hold teams accountable.

To make the most out of the North Star metrics, you should:

  1. Determine the ‘success range’ of each metric.
  2. Define tools to measure it.
  3. Identify the factors that affect them.
  4. Share the above data with decision-makers.
  5. Estimate for best and worst case scenarios.

After determining a broad plan of action through a roadmap, it is time to decide to prioritize the features and the tasks of each team member.

4. Prioritization of features

For prioritization, pick a prioritization model that meets your requirements. Here are the three most used ones:

  1. Product tree: The metaphor of a tree to show the development of a product
  2. RICE model: Reach, Impact, Confidence, and Effort of each feature
  3. MoSCoW model: Based on the importance and urgency of a requirement

This is a crucial stage where product managers need to: 

  1. Say ‘no’ when necessary
  2. Be proactive in resolving conflicts between team members
  3. Listen to everyone and answer any question
  4. Collaboratively decide which tools are to be used
  5. Determine a robust and adaptive workflow
  6. Make sure the roadmap is updated in real-time
  7. Keep the stakeholders informed about the progress

Zeda.io makes it easier for product managers by allowing prioritization (based on the RICE model) directly from the feature list. 

You can also edit other details such as tags and the type of feature.

5. Delivery and analysis

After the features are created, they are delivered to the end-user based on the development framework as follows:

  1. Waterfall: Huge updates; longer timelines (a few months).
  2. Agile: Small updates; shorter timelines (a few weeks).
  3. Continuous: Small updates; as soon as they are developed.

If it is an option, you should consider releasing a beta version. This will help you make new features free of bugs. To ensure the best results, you can try the following:

  1. Announce incentives for more opt-ins.
  2. Fix bugs as soon as they are discovered.
  3. Ask the testers to share detailed feedback.

One of the most important things to keep in mind while delivering features or a new product is time. Timely delivery is impossible when dependencies are not resolved. Zeda.io helps you solve this by letting you add dependencies for each feature to ensure they are completed first.

During this phase, the product management team must measure the impact of the newly added features (or released product) and act accordingly in the following ways:

  1. Closely track the North Star metrics and factors that affect it.
  2. Use product analytics tools to track usage metrics.
  3. Ensure the customers are aware of the updates.
  4. Determine the ‘why’ if they do not match.
  5. Do a course correction if necessary.

Zeda.io integrates with usage tracking tools such as Mixpanel and Google Data Studio making it easier for the product management team to monitor the North Star metrics.

Based on how your product is received by your customers, you can make desired changes to the product roadmap.

6. Feedback and iteration

This step closes the loop in the product management process by generating ideas for the next set of iterations/improvements based on customer feedback — just like the first step in the process.

You can follow the below tips to get useful responses from your customers:

  1. Send email questionnaires, NPS surveys, feedback forms, etc.
  2. Incentivize the process to increase responses
  3. Ask for permission before collecting product usage data

Receiving a huge volume of feedback is great but it can be challenging for the product management team to organize and discuss them all. Zeda.io provides a quick solution by letting various team members ‘vote’ which feedback is important.

Right after this, you can align them with an existing feature or create a new one.

After completing all the steps in the product management process, not only will you have actionable feedback from your customers about your product or its features, but you’ll also have new ideas about desirable features that will make your product even better.

Summing up

If the above steps point at one thing, it is the fact that product management teams shoulder a tonne of responsibilities that directly impact business growth.

You need the right product management toolkit to ensure the efficient execution of each of the steps in the product management process. 

Zeda.io is an all-in-one super app for product management teams that does just that. It brings all your tools and data to one place, which simplifies your workflow and makes it easier for you and your team to build products your customers love.

Oh, and if you think these tips and information will help your team or your network, feel free to share this post with them.

Or, perhaps, this infographic will be handier.

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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