How to Succeed in a Product Operations Role

Last Updated: 

October 4, 2023

Product operations play a vital role in product development and cross-functional team communication, and between the company and its customers. It is one of the best ways for your organisation to communicate with customers about your product and one of the best ways of tracking your product’s performance on the market post-launch.

If you’re considering a role in product operations or wondering how to level up your product development department, this article is for you.

In this article you will find out:

  • What is product operations
  • What does a Product Operations Manager do
  • What is the difference between a Product Operations Manager and a Product Manager
  • Advice on how to succeed in a product operations role

Let’s start!

Key Takeaways on How to Succeed in a Product Operations Role:

  • Definition of Product Operations: Product Operations streamlines work within an organisation, focusing on improving communication, enhancing cross-functional product teams, and incorporating tools for optimal results.
  • Role of a Product Operations Manager: They handle tasks such as collecting and analysing product data, improving team communication, establishing effective operation processes, monitoring resources, and promoting continuous education.
  • Difference Between Product Operations and Product Management: While Product Managers focus on developing specific products, Product Operations Managers handle daily operations, ensuring smooth development and optimisation of multiple products.
  • Collaboration is Key: Product Managers and Product Ops need to work closely. Product Ops teams collect, analyse, and provide necessary information for the Product Managers' decision-making.
  • Post-Launch Supervision: Product Ops Managers oversee the post-launch period, testing market requirements, facilitating experiments, and optimising product performance.
  • Skills for Success: A Product Operations Manager needs both technical and soft skills, acting as a bridge between various departments like product marketing, development, and customer success.
  • Blueprint for Scaling: Understand the bigger picture of the business and develop ways to organise tasks into repeatable checklists, ensuring effective functioning as the business grows.
  • Streamline Communication: Regular and personalised communication with stakeholders is crucial to keep everyone informed and aligned.
  • Effective Tool Management: As the business grows, challenges like managing a larger product tech stack arise. Implement tools for tasks like tracking user behavior, digital prototyping, roadmapping, and metric analysis.
  • Product Data Management: With the increasing volume of data, Product Operations teams ensure clear and accessible data analysis. They develop systems to capture and track strategic product metrics and share insights with Product Managers.
  • Conclusion: Product operations enhance efficiency, allowing teams to innovate quickly and build better products in a dynamic environment.

By understanding and implementing these insights, businesses can leverage product operations to drive growth and success.

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Definition of Product Operations

Product Operations aim to streamline the work done in an organisation. It focuses on ways to make teams work more effectively.

The three main areas product operations deals with are:

  • People - Improving communication in the company
  • Processes - Finding ways to improve cross-functional product teams
  • Tools - Sourcing and incorporating solutions that help gain optimal results

A Product Operations Manager will typically deal with:

  • Collecting, organising, and analysing product data
  • Passing the data along to the Product Manager
  • Improving communication between the product teams and other teams
  • Establishing effective operation processes connected to product development
  • Pushing for experimentation processes to help businesses grow
  • Monitoring resources such as product technology stack
  • Tracking product quality assurance data
  • Promoting continuous education and training

Product Operations
[Source: Pixabay]

But Wait, What Is the Difference Between Product Operations and Product Management?

You probably already deduced that the Product Operations Manager has the task of helping the Product Manager do their job with success, especially when the Product Manager’s key tasks are in question.

As companies require Product Managers to have a more creative and people-oriented approach, Product Operations Managers were introduced to handle the daily operations.

Product Managers function, in a way, as customers to Product Operation Managers. While PMs (Product Managers) are concerned with developing specific products, Product Operation Managers focus on the aforementioned daily operations - those repetitive functions that concentrate on sleek development and continuous optimisation of multiple products.

All in all, PMs and Product Ops need to collaborate a lot. If the PM needs information for decision-making, the product ops team collects, analyses, and passes over that information.

One of the fields in product development under the Product Ops Manager's supervision is the post-launch period. That is when Ops test requirements for markets, facilitate experiments, and provide value to end users by monitoring and optimising the product’s performance.

Tips on How to Succeed in a Product Operations Role

As a Product Operations Manager, you need both soft and hard skills. Even if you’re well-versed in technical stuff, you need to know how to facilitate communication between teams. After all, you will be the glue between product marketing, product development, customer success, and even some other sectors!

Below we will list useful things you can implement to nail your role and help your business grow. If you're looking for additional real-world examples, check out this guide.

Make a Blueprint to Help the Team Scale

To be truly successful, an organisation needs to become more effective at every step of development. Especially as it transitions from having one to a few product managers or from having a small number of products to an expanding portfolio. In other words, the company needs a strong foundation to handle both the product concept stage, the post-launch stage, and everything in between. 

You must have the big picture of the expanding business and develop ways to turn disorganised tasks into repeatable checklists. That can guarantee that the cross-functional team has a plan for how to function effectively as the business continues to grow.

Streamline Communication

Stakeholder alignment is a big challenge for companies, so it’s no wonder this is the primary duty for product ops. It's difficult to keep everyone in the loop, informed, and on the same page. The more people there are, the more difficult it becomes.

Streamline Communication
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

Product ops teams succeed when they communicate with stakeholders more regularly and follow their preferred techniques, tempo, and degree of detail. The team can document this personalised, standardised communication. Additionally, the team can determine stakeholder satisfaction by conducting a survey or just casually questioning people.

Implement Effective Tool Management

More challenges will pop up as you grow. One of those challenges will be a bigger product tech stack.

Some ways to effectively follow that growth and optimise processes with software solutions are:

  • Tracking user behavior
  • Digital prototyping
  • Roadmapping products
  • Project management
  • Using metric analysis
  • User testing
  • Feedback

If you enlist these tasks among your role responsibilities and create guidelines for use of the aforementioned tools, you can help yourself, and your team by educating them.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out the best things for your company’s product. In case you are unsure where to start and afraid of making costly mistakes enlist the help of expert product development consultancy that can analyse and suggest useful ways to develop further.

Product Data Management

Product data management is one of the bigger issues facing the tech business environment of today. The previously mentioned sophisticated tech stack creates a vast amount of qualitative and quantitative data every day.

Organisations rely on Product Operations to maintain the data analysis clear and accessible in the face of exponential data volume expansion. Product Operations teams develop relevant and important usage data systems to capture and keep track of strategic product metrics like Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) to later share insightful knowledge with Product Managers to assist them in making accurate, data-driven decisions. That is done as the processes of gathering, reviewing, and analysing data become more complex.

Final Word

Product operations are about facilitating effective work and communication in the product team. That makes the company more susceptible to growth and success. The growing efficiency allows the team to innovate quickly and ultimately build better products in an exciting and fast-growing environment.

Use what you’ve learned today to launch your company into the realm of success.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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