Adapt Best Practices with Product Ops
ProductOps is a specialized role that normalizes and helps scale the product function across all products and services.
Your teams have adopted numerous methods and roles. They have attempted to implement the same practices as described in that article or webinar, yet don't seem to get the same outcomes.
Why is it not working?
Because your organization is unique.
No other organization has the same teams, the same products, the same roles, the same constraints, and the same risk profiles.
What works for another company may or may not work for your team. Another team's "best practice" may not be appropriate for your team.
When a company is small, the product manager (by whatever title) is responsible for activities across the entire product life cycle—from ideation to market delivery and sales support. In these organizations, the product role is that of a generalist. And with one person, whatever works... works.
As an organization grows and there are more and more individuals in product roles, we see a disconnect of both roles and methods amongst the myriad teams. One team does it one way, another team does it another. Each team uses different templates and tools from different sources. And that’s where ProductOps comes in.
What is ProductOps?
The “Ops” designator is used in many other departments: sales, marketing, and development teams all have Ops roles. The idea of an ops role is to systemize the department instead of relying on each team or individual to develop and implement their own best practices. ProductOps is a specialized role within product or product management that normalizes the function across all products and services. The ProductOps goal is to standardize and optimize. ProductOps examines and standardizes processes with common templates and tools. It helps perform data analytics and acquisition and develops methods for meaningful engagement with customers and potential customers.
How does ProductOps Help?
Here are some ways that ProductOps can benefit your product teams:
Define roles and responsibilities. Let’s have a single definition for each title and what they do. For instance, who should do win/loss interviews, analysis, and reporting? ProductOps can either coach teams in the best practices or perform certain capabilities (such as win loss analysis) as a service.
Standardize methods and artifacts. What templates do we use? How should we prioritize business opportunities? What’s the best approach for backlog grooming? ProductOps builds a “product playbook” of standard templates and tools, adapted to the special needs of your business.
Wrangle corporate and product data. With so much operational data available, how can a new product manager make sense of it all? ProductOps can be the expert on data that’s available and how it can provide insights to product decisions.
Guide and curate market and customer research. How do we set up customer interviews? Where do we store and share our insights? How can we execute experiments such as A/B tests?
Evaluate and manage departmental tools. What roadmapping tool is best? Where do we store product information? Which is our preferred video conferencing tool? Do we use Teams or Slack, and how are those organized and maintained? Instead of multiple duplicate tools, ProductOps identifies departmental needs, evaluates available tools, and makes a selection for everyone. ProductOps then manages the tool and trains team members on its use.
But there’s a problem. The danger is that ProductOps may be perceived as responsible for doing everything that other product management roles don’t want to do. ProductOps is a service to all product management roles but neither a master nor a servant. Successful product teams need standard tools, a common language, and on-going coaching on product management best practices. ProductOps adapts industry practices to create an organizational “playbook” of methods that are customized to the special needs of the business. By examining at what works (and what doesn’t) across all product teams, ProductOps identifies successful approaches and helps each team adopt the organization’s best practices.