Product Operations: Backbone of Product-led Growth

Jul 17, 2021

4 Min Read

Product operations is a developing function within the tech industry. It encompasses scaling processes, including communications, training, and planning. Within product operations, this is what product operations managers do.

The Role of Product Managers

As startups turn into unicorns, complex data analysis and prioritization have driven the need for more product operations managers. Using their strategic thinking, communication, and data prioritization skills, product managers can help companies grow and scale. Product discovery is another area where the role of product operations managers has become noticeable nowadays. New ideas are iterated and authenticated with actual customers that lead to the process of product discovery.

Product Operations Management– What is it?

Ensuring accountability of the outcomes of the product team on a routine basis by the product managers is what product management is all about. The primary responsibilities of product management include –

  • Reinforcing processes, practices, and policies through engineering and design of product communication and announcements
  • Maintenance of resources, templates, references, and how-to guides. The latest versions of these should be available with the product manager in order to forward the same to the people concerned as and when required.
  • Streamlining of routine practices and automation and intelligence tasks
  • Bringing out relevant changes in customer support sales and other departments in the organization
  • Development and maintenance of systematic education program for product managers
  • Research and organization of information on the best practices of product management

Product Operations – A Growing Need

The automation and ensuring the accountability of the outcomes of the product team for the tasks performed on a routine basis by the product managers has led to the product operations becoming a crucial function in any organization. There are several ways in which the product operations can be instrumental in resolving specific conflicts/issues. Some of the problems include:

Problem Problem resolved Through product operations
Inconsistent and fragmented communication in the support team After deliberation with the leadership, a system of weekly support calls was initiated between the support team and the product managers leading to the generation of support tickets
Straining communication with the sales team and the product managers were not proactively responding to the issues raised by the customers. A buddy system was set up through which live customers were invited by the product managers for a chat regularly.
The product managers spent a lot of time on routine operations such as team gatherings, searching documents, follow-up on approvals for initiatives in projects, and other regular project-related tasks. An internal wiki was created, and proper guidelines led to ease of access and consistency in leadership.
The product managers also managed the documentation of the processes and searched forgo the critical storing of the documentation. All documentation on product guidelines and processes was managed and maintained by product operations.
It took a long time to resolve inter-team dependencies. Individuals were assigned in each team and aligned with the cross-team to ensure proper communication and resolve conflicts.
Difficulty in taking on board all-new product managers in a consistent manner Organizing a walkthrough for the new product managers and preparation of a readiness checklist that is in sync with the scope of the operations of the organization
Speeding up new members becoming challenging to manage Ensuring that the history of documentation is organized correctly to resolve to enable the new team members to get hold of the history of changes/decisions in an organized manner

The roles that are not included in product operations

A product ops manager can perform not every role/task. Many areas/tasks cannot come under the purview of a product operations manager, such as –

Management of Technical Programs

Coordination of large teams and many stakeholders do not work in the case of management of technical programs.

Management of Projects

The product operations cannot be a replacement/substitute for project managers.

Substitute of the data science team

A data science team is still required for product managers to help them develop critical indicators that can measure performance.

Substitute for the user research team

Product operations cannot substitute a user research team. User Research teams are specialized in organizing user interviews and analyze the problems being faced and resolved by the users. In addition, they provide qualitative insight on the issues to enable the data science teams to analyze quantitative trends.

Substitute for a Product Marketing team

Product operations can never replace a good marketing team. Marketing a product requires the setting up of a storyline along with the selling points of the product. It also involves the describing of marketing strategies that a product manager might not be skilled at.

The Emerging Need of Product Operations

Despite all the available information and research on the need for production operations in an organization, it is still an emerging field. However, wherever it is in execution, it plays an essential and decisive role in an organization’s functions. There ought to be a gradual shift in the organization where they start relying on product operations more inclusively. The complex needs of the teams make a product manager an optimum choice for ensuring improvement in functions. A company can rely on a product manager if it struggles to find reasonable product operations managers.

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