Product Management: Product Ops

Definition: Product ops, or product operations, is a role designed to help a company’s cross-functional product team operate as effectively as possible.

What is Product Ops?

Product ops, or product operations, is a role designed to help a company’s cross-functional product team operate as effectively as possible. Product ops specialists own many of the product team’s behind-the-scenes initiatives. Such as:

  • Facilitate user interviews and other market research
  • Oversee quality assurance checks on new features
  • Analyze data to help product management make better-informed decisions
  • Develop business processes to streamline product development
  • Manage the many tools (for roadmapping, prototyping, etc.) the product team uses
  • Work closely with support and sales to improve the customer experience

Why Product Ops Is a Must on Your Product Team

To understand why product ops have become such an important component of any product team, let’s consider some of the disadvantages of not having this role in a modern organization.

1. Too Many Tools to Manage Effectively

Businesses today have more technology than ever to develop and improve their products from apps that monitor customer usage, to digital prototyping solutions, to product roadmap software.

Here’s the drawback: learning and training the team on these disparate tools, working with their vendors, and implementing best practices for using these solutions becomes more and more time-consuming with each new app introduced into the product stack.

How product ops helps:

One of the many ways a product ops team can add value to the company is by administering these tools and creating the best practices for using them across the organization.

2. Ineffective Curation and Analysis of Data

A related challenge modern product teams face is the exponential increase in corporate data that the average business is generating every year. As a recent article in Forbes explains it, 90% of all data generated in world history was created in the last two years, and experts estimate the rate of new data generated each year will only increase.

With all of their other responsibilities, product managers face increasing difficulty carving out the time to review and analyze all of this data that will inform the strategic decisions about their products.

How product ops helps:

Specialists build systems to capture, review, and analyze usage information and other key data. They present this data to product management to help PMs make better-informed product decisions.

3. Difficulty Designing and Implementing Experiments

As a product team and its user base grow, administering and learning from experiments becomes increasingly complex.

Moreover, different product managers across the team will likely have their own methods of devising, executing, and measuring the success of the experiments. Therefore, some experiments will yield less actionable data than others (because of how they were executed), and result in wasted resources.

When no one is looking at the results of these experiments in aggregate, it creates a silo-based culture of product experimentation where the organization misses out on important trends and insights.

How product ops helps:

Yet another valuable role product ops can play is to create a systematic methodology of product experimentation. The product ops team develops processes to make experiments reliable, actionable, and easier to implement. They create a best practices template that product managers across the organization can use to run and report on experiments.

ACCESS NOW: The Rise of Product Ops

Product Ops: A Systematic Approach to Product Excellence

In today’s highly competitive business environment, where the barriers to entry in almost every industry have fallen substantially in recent years, a product team can no longer afford to develop products without well-thought-out systems and best practices established.

Creating those systems and processes is only the first step to building a company culture of product excellence. Because product managers have so many responsibilities, they often cannot devote enough time to making sure the cross-functional team is working according to the company’s processes and best practices. This is where the product ops teams comes in.

With a product ops team (or even one motivated product ops individual!), the organization will have a resource that continuously works to apply operational discipline to the entire cross-functional team. In other words, product ops helps clear a path to ensure the rest of the team—product managers, developers, project managers, product managers, customer support, sales—are able to perform under the best possible circumstances. That’s why this is a must-have position.

See Also: DevOps