While marketing and sales operations have been around in companies for a while, product management has developed significantly from a little-known field to a major driver of business. With all the inflow of data and availability of software solutions, product management is quite a handful of a task. Managing all the facets of it by itself is a process on to itself and that is where product ops come into the picture. With many wondering what is product operations we’ve written this post to offer some clarity into the process, responsibility, and benefits of product operations.
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Product operations or product ops as it is called in short is a role that is gaining popularity, however, its exact definition varies from one organization to another. But similar to other operations that support various teams, product ops support the product team by managing data and technology and streamlining the process in general. Sitting at the intersection where cross-functional teams operate, product ops streamlines communications both within the product teams and other teams across the company.
An example being engineering and product team communication with customer-oriented teams such as support, sales, and success. The role of product operations manager involves putting together onboarding and training programs, planning processes, and standardizing others, narrowing down the best practices and support of resources along with a range of others. Product operations roles begin to come into significance as the team sizes grow along with the company and reach a point where the role becomes necessary to make operations smooth.
Although the responsibilities of product operations vary from one organization to the other, there are several core functions that remain the same. Here are the important ones.
When there is a growing team in any organization, every new hire is sure to add some inertia, therefore it’s up to the product ops to bring them to speed as quickly as possible and train them to integrate into the team. Product ops are tasked with putting the training onboarding process into place so the new joiners become productive members of the team soon.
Be it virtual or real, every market is competitive and the product management team needs to come up with new ways to keep up with the change. To facilitate improvement in the competitive world, it is essential to incorporate the best tools, methodologies, and practices. The management and operations will be at the help of all these changes by taking inputs from both the outside and inside the team to identify critical areas of improvement.
Knowledge about the best practices garnered from what is mentioned above should be put together as a learning/education curriculum for the product teams. The product ops then make sure that the members of all the teams are up-to-date with the curriculum and measure what has been learned. Scheduling training sessions and updating the learning modules with new information is also the role of the product ops.
Every company has processes and tasks that occupy the bulk of the meaningful effort that goes into it. Some of them include sprint planning, conducting user reviews, interpreting user feedback, and road mapping. These repetitive processes will be streamlined by the product ops by studying the opportunity within them for the same so take up lesser time and yield better results.
The product operations will have to maintain resources to back up the routine and repetitive tasks, especially when scaling for the product teams. The resources could include interview guidelines. Story templates survey frameworks and so on. These should be available to the teams in an easy to find fashion on time.
The project management tool stack has grown considerably over the last few years which means they are harder to manage. Teams use over two dozen tools for all kinds of activities such as project management, road mapping, analytics, user testing and feedback, and so on. While the stack can be managed by the product teams it is better done by the product ops so the product managers can focus on the product.
The customers are the heart of every business and it is essential to have happy satisfied customers who will want to continue using the product and help you grow. The product ops will have to manage the customer feedback lifecycle to ensure they remain loyal to the brand.
As there are a number of tools available for the product teams, the product ops manager can lessen the burden on the teams by understanding their needs precisely and build the right stack for them. This will help the product teams make quicker decisions and move faster than spending effort on managing the stack.
When coming down to what is the role of an operations manager, it can be said that they work with the frontline support teams to tackle technical issues raised by the users and prioritize those that are critical. This saves time for the product managers to get involved and instead work on product improvements.
Feedback is critical to building a robust product and keeping the user base happy. The product operations are responsible for building a strong process to manage user feedback that is collected across different channels.
Once the feedback that is gained is incorporated into the product roadmap, features that add value to the users can be developed through the right activities and processes. Product ops can then work with marketing to come up with announcements that will encourage the users to come back expecting more.
As you would have already guessed, becoming an operations manager comes with bid responsibilities to manage cross-functional product, development teams. This article lays out the importance of the role and how it is only set to become more significant in the future.
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