Below are some key product management terms and definitions we believe product managers of all experience levels should get familiar with.
An A/B test aims to compare the performance of two items or variations against one another. In product management, A/B tests are often used to identify the best-performing option.
Affinity grouping can be used as a collaborative prioritization activity. It works by having a group of participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities on Post-It Notes.
Behavioral Product Management
What is Behavioral Product Management? Behavioral product management applies behavioral science and human psychology to product design. When planning their...
A beta test is a widespread pre-launch distribution of a product (typically software), in which users are asked to try the product and provide feedback to help the product team improve it before general availability. If both forms of testing are deployed, beta testing occurs once alpha testing is complete.
Bill of Materials (BOM)
A bill of materials (BOM) is a complete list of the materials needed to build a product. A BOM typically lists all the parts needed in their necessary quantities.
Business Intelligence (BI), is a method of compiling, analyzing and interpreting business data to make better-informed decisions. BI data is typically compiled through extensive research across a wide range of sources — including industry reports, customer feedback, actual usage data of the company’s products, and competitive research.
Business Model Canvas
A business model canvas is a one-page summary describing the high-level strategic details needed to get a business (or product) successfully to market. The typical use case for this tool is to outline the fundamental building blocks of a business, but it can be used effectively for individual products as well.
Buy-a-Feature is one of many prioritization frameworks product managers can use. It's commonly used to help organizations identify the features that customers and key stakeholders value the most. Product managers can leverage Buy-a-Feature to directly engage stakeholders and even customers to help shape their products, and to prioritize features based on their expected value return.
A buyer persona is often created by product teams to describe the broad cohort of individuals who have a say in the purchasing process. This can include a number of influencers and decision makers who might not even be using the product upon purchasing. Aside from being a larger demographic, this persona will likely differ from the user persona in regards to their goals and needs.
In product management, cannibalization is when two different products from the same company compete with one other. Product managers are often responsible for an entire line or suite of products so that cannibalization can be kept to a minimum, or avoided altogether.
Change management is a systematic approach to supporting employees and teams as an organization transitions to new processes, tools, or initiatives.
Chief Product Officer
A chief product officer (CPO) is a corporate title referring to an executive who leads the entire product organization. Alternatively,...
Cost of Delay
Cost of delay (CoD) is a prioritization framework that helps a business quantify the economic value of completing a project sooner as opposed to later.
Customer Advisory Board
A customer advisory board is a group of customers who come together on a regular basis to share insights and advice with an organization. Usually, the members of a customer advisory board are high-level executives at their organizations and therefore can provide in-depth market insight.
Customer development is the portion of the Lean Startup methodology aimed at understanding the problem. This requires first fully vetting...
Customer empathy is understanding the underlying needs and feelings of customers. It goes beyond recognizing and addressing their tactical requirements...
DACI Decision-Making Framework
The DACI decision-making framework is a model designed to improve a team's effectiveness and velocity on projects, by assigning team members specific roles and responsibilities when it comes to group decisions.
In project management, a dependency describes a relationship between two initiatives that must be executed in a particular order. If...
What is design ops, and why should you make it a part of your product team’s culture? This page will...
Design thinking is a framework for innovation based on viewing problems or needs from the user’s perspective. Because this human-centered...
DevOps combines traditional software development and IT operations into a unified framework, merging coding, testing, packaging, integration, deployment, and monitoring into a single overarching process to decrease time to market without sacrificing quality.
Digital transformation is the act of revolutionizing business processes to take advantage of digital technologies, with the goal of making them more efficient, accessible, and scalable.
Disruptive innovation is a term coined by Clayton M. Christensen to describe any type of innovation that creates a new...
Feature bloat is a term to describe the result of packing too many features and functionalities into a product. Usually...
A feature flag refers to a team’s ability to turn a feature or functionality “on” or “off” at their discretion....
What is a Feature Kickoff? A feature kickoff is a strategic meeting where all relevant stakeholders discuss the goals for...
What is a Gantt Chart? A Gantt chart, or harmonogram, is a type of bar chart that graphically illustrates a...
General Availability (GA)
General Availability (GA) is the release of a product to the general public. When a product reaches GA, it becomes...
GIST stands for Goals, Ideas, Step-Projects, and Tasks. GIST planning is a lightweight approach to product planning, with the goal...
What is Idea Management? Idea management is a structured approach to generating and evaluating ideas that could help improve an...
Impact Mapping is a graphic strategy planning method to decide which features to build into a product. As it begins...
Jira is a project management tool developed by Atlassian, an Australian software company. Jira is widely used by agile development...
A Kanban roadmap can help product managers leverage the Kanban methodology in their strategic planning. The Kanban technique involves grouping...
The Kano Model is one of many prioritization frameworks designed to help product teams prioritize initiatives. Kano can help teams determine which features will satisfy and even delight customers. Product managers often use the Kano Model to prioritize potential new features by grouping them into categories. These feature categories can range from those that could disappoint customers, to those likely to satisfy or even delight customers.
Market Requirements Document (MRD)
A market requirements document, or an MRD, is a strategic document written by a product manager to help define the market’s requirements or demand for a specific product. An MRD typically contains information on the product’s vision, the competitive landscape, a business analysis and revenue opportunity, as well as a list of features or at least high-level feature categories.
What is market validation? Market validation is the process of presenting a concept for a product to its target market...
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
An MVP, or minimum viable product, represents the earliest stage in the product’s development cycle at which the company believes it has enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate an idea. In industries such as software, or for companies with limited funding, the MVP can help the product team receive user feedback as quickly as possible, which they can use to iterate and improve the product.
In product management, a persona is a profile of a product’s typical user. Personas are used to help a product manager (and others in the organization involved with the product’s development) understand key traits, behaviors, goals, responsibilities, and needs of a specific type of user. Product managers often document various personas, such as buyer personas, customer personas, and decision-maker personas, to better understand how to meet the needs of these constituencies.
Pivot in a product management context may refer to a shift in the strategic direction of the business. Usually the decision to pivot a product is the result of competitive changes, new findings about the market, or shortcomings in the original strategy.
Prioritization is the process by which a set of items are ranked in order of importance. In product management, initiatives that live in the backlog must be prioritized as a means of deciding what should be developed next. There are a number of prioritization methods commonly used by product managers, such as the Kano Model, Weighted Scoring, and Opportunity Scoring.
What is Product Architecture? Product architecture is the organization (or chunking) of a product’s functional elements. It’s the ways these...
Product design describes the process of imagining, creating, and iterating products that solve users’ problems or address specific needs in a given market.
A product designer is responsible for the user experience of a product, usually taking direction on the business goals and objectives from product management. Although typically associated with the visual/tactile aspects of a product, product designers can sometimes also play a role in the information architecture and system design of a product as well.
What is product differentiation? Definition: Product differentiation is a process used by businesses to distinguish a product or service from...
What is a Product Disruptor? A product disruptor is an innovation that represents a change in a product’s direction, business...
What is Product Enablement? Product enablement helps employees at large companies gain relevant product knowledge. The term takes its name...
What is Product Excellence? Product excellence is a customer-focused framework for developing a significant or impactful product or feature and...
What is a Product Launch? A product launch refers to a business’s planned and coordinated effort to debut a new...
The product lifecycle model breaks down the various stages of a product’s evolution, from its debut to its retirement. Each phase comes with its own characteristics, demands, and challenges.
Product Management Audit
A product management audit is a complete, objective review of a company's product strategy and product management processes. Each aspect of the product strategy and process is numerically rated to identify areas of weakness that would benefit from improvement, as well as any areas that are completely lacking.
Product Management Talent
Product leaders are responsible for discovering and recruiting the right people for the product team. To do so, they need to seek out product management talent, to fill key product roles.
A product manager drives the development of products, and is ultimately responsible for the success of those products. Product managers are information gatherers, defining the strategic direction of the product by focusing on their business’s strategic goals, the market’s demands and opportunities, and the technological and financial resources available to them to make the product a reality.
Product-market fit describes a scenario in which a company's target customers are buying, using, and telling others about the company's product in numbers large enough to sustain that product's growth and profitability.
Product Marketing Manager
A product marketing manager’s (PMM) primary responsibility is to communicate the product’s value to the market. A PMM’s responsibilities could include training the sales force on how to sell the product, creating marketing materials that communicate product features, and developing the marketing tools and campaigns to attract new prospects and customers.
Product ops, or product operations, is a relatively new discipline somewhat similar to marketing ops. Product ops builds a foundation for excellence by reinforcing product strategy with metrics, infrastructure, business processes, best practices, budgeting, and reporting. In short, product ops teams serve to support the product team and help build better products.
Product Portfolio Management
Product portfolio management refers to the practice of managing an organization’s entire product portfolio, which consists of all the products the organization has. A product portfolio manager may be responsible for allocating resources for optimal ROI, identifying areas of improvement, and keeping the products aligned with the organization’s broader strategy.
Product Requirements Document
A product requirements document (PRD) is an artifact used in the product development process to communicate what capabilities must be included in a product release to the development and testing teams. This document is typically used more in “waterfall” environments where product definition, design and delivery happen sequentially, but may be used in an “agile” setting as well.
What is a Product Stack? A product stack refers to the apps, technologies, and other resources product managers use to...
What is a Product Strategy? A product strategy is a high-level plan describing what a business hopes to accomplish with...
What is the Product Tree? The Product Tree is a fun, visual, and useful tool that gamifies product management. It...
A product vision, or product vision statement, describes the overarching long-term mission of your product. Vision statements are aspirational and communicate concisely where the product hopes to go and what it hopes to achieve in the long term.
Program Management is an organizational function that oversees a group of individual projects linked together through a shared organizational goal...
A program manager coordinates the interdependencies among projects, products, and other important strategic initiatives across an organization. This role requires one to focus closely on a lateral view across the organization.
A project manager oversees many of the logistical aspects of the product development process. They differ from product managers in that they oversee the execution of plans that have already been developed and approved. Unlike product managers, they are generally less focused on high-level goals and strategy. Instead, a project manager focuses on tangible things like budget, resources, and personnel.
Rational Product Management
What is Rational Product Management? Rational product management is a unifying process for product development. Based on the rational development...
Refactoring is the process by which development teams clean up a codebase or change the internal structure of a piece of software to improve it. Refactoring is intended to not make any noticeable impact on the user's end, but can make it easier for development teams to continue working on the code and adding new functionalities in the future.
Release notes are documentation produced and distributed alongside a product update or launch. They typically describe what changes come with...
A release plan is a tactical document designed to capture and track the features planned for an upcoming release. A...
RICE Scoring Model
The RICE scoring model is a framework designed to help product managers determine which products, features, and other initiatives to prioritize on their roadmaps by scoring these items according to four factors. These factors, which form the acronym RICE, are reach, impact, confidence, and effort.
Scope creep refers to the process by which the breadth of a project slowly increases over time. It is a...
What is a Shipyard Engine? A shipyard engine describes a product team’s process to keep its organization informed about the...
Stakeholders are individuals (or groups) that can either impact the success and execution of a product, or are impacted by...
A stakeholder analysis is the process of identifying stakeholders before a project begins; grouping them according to their levels of participation, interest, and influence in the project; and determining how best to involve and communicate each of these stakeholder groups throughout.
What is Story Mapping? Story mapping is a method for arranging user stories to create a more holistic view of...
A SWOT analysis is a planning framework that a business can use to identify a strategic endeavor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The term SWOT is an acronym for these four factors.In a SWOT analysis, a project’s (or product’s) strengths and weaknesses are internal factors. Strengths might include the company’s domain expertise or intellectual property. Weaknesses might include missing skillsets or a lack of budget. Opportunities and threats, by contrast, are external and refer to competition, the market, or changing trends that could affect the company.
Technical debt describes what results when development teams take actions to expedite the delivery of a piece of functionality or a project which later need to be refactored. In other words, it's the result of prioritizing speedy delivery over perfect code.
Technical Product Manager
A technical product manager (PM) is a product manager with a strong technical background that is typically focused on the...
A theme in product management is a high-level objective for the product, usually built on a related set of features...
Top-Down Product Strategy
A top-down product strategy is one where high-level objectives and a long-term vision are defined first and then used to...
Unique Selling Proposition
A product’s unique selling proposition (USP), is its unique competitive advantage, or the reason a customer would select the product over any other option. Generally, USPs are communicated as benefits to the customer or user.
A use case is a hypothetical (but plausible) scenario showing how a product’s user might interact with the product to...
User Experience refers to the feeling users experience when using a product, application, system, or service. It is a broad term which can cover anything from how well the user can navigate the product, how easy it is to use, how relevant the content displayed is etc.
A user interface, or UI, is any part of a product or system which the end user interacts with. Users...
A user persona is a composite biography (or series of biographies) drafted based on market research and experience to describe...
User research is the discipline of learning about users’ needs and thought processes by studying how they perform tasks, observing how they interact with a product, or by using other data-driven strategies.
The primary focus of a UX designer (short for User Experience Designer) is on overall user satisfaction and usability with a product. UX designers continually look for ways to improve how the product experience feels to the user — improvements such as making using the product faster, easier, or more intuitive.
What is a Value Proposition? A value proposition is a high-level statement, often written as a promise to the customer,...
Value vs. Complexity
Value vs. complexity is a prioritization framework that allows a product team to evaluate each initiative according to how much value the initiative will bring, and how difficult or complex it will be to implement. Initiatives are then plotted on a quadrant and prioritized accordingly.
Waterfall is a long-term method of product development characterized by a sequential series of stages such as conception, initiation, analysis,...
Weighted scoring prioritization uses numerical scoring to rank your strategic initiatives against benefit and cost categories. It is useful for product teams looking for objective prioritization techniques that factor in multiple layers of data.