One way to define product management is as “a complete pipeline for formulating strategy for a product, ensuring its timely development, and successfully deploying it in the market, throughout the product's life cycle.”
Or, to put it another way, product management is “the overlap between building the right product and building the product right”.
In a software development organization, the person in charge (the product manager) is accountable for overseeing the product at its different stages, including formulating product strategy (analytics, research, and conceptualization), developing a roadmap (a product plan) for ensuring timely implementation, and launching the product to market to meet defined financial and marketing goals. The PM is responsible for facilitating teamwork and handling technical challenges that occur at different levels throughout the development workflow.
An ideal approach is to assemble a great team with the vision to create the best product under the influence of strong management. But this ideal situation cannot always be achieved.
For this reason, choosing a tool or application that enables efficient product management is the best way to ensure success. Below is a list of product management tools that can help you deliver a quality product on time.
Features That a Product Management Tool Should Offer
Product management tools play a crucial role in delivering a requirement-driven final product. The tools handle logging of strategies, product vision, in-and-out department communications, data analysis, road mapping, resource allocation and many more challenges inherent to building a final product.
Before listing the best product management tools, it's useful to consider which functionalities your product management tool should include.
- Organization: the tool should help you rein in clutter and shape the process in a clear way while building a complex product.
- Consolidation: the tool should store all data in one place for smooth access, such as timelines for team members, testing results and outputs, scheduled tasks and due dates, and bugs. This data must also be transparently maintained to show that everyone is on the same page.
- Tracking: the tool should make the product’s life cycle traceable to identify any point which needs modifications or bolstering.
- Content Repository: the tool must possess the ability to store files and data such as product requirements, research data, and analytics. It should also allow you to set the access permissions for approved users.
- Scheduling: the tool should maintain a timeline of individual member tasks, due dates, and meeting schedules, and allow team members to suggest any valid modification that can help in the speedy completion of a task.
- Integration: the tool should provide integration with your existing product. Make sure your selected tool supports your existing product prototype that is currently in development, whether the product is tangible or non-tangible.
- Security Protocol: the tool should limit the amount of confidential data that is to be shared with any third party.
To narrow down your options, be sure to ask questions relevant to your process. For instance: What is the makeup of the team that will use these tools? This is key because different tools have different usage levels based upon the type of end user. Schedule a meeting to ask your team members what kind of tool provides a user-friendly interface for them.
After getting an opinion from the team, you can select one of the options below.
Product Management Tools by Specialty
Planning a product roadmap
One fundamental step in product management is to construct a visual plan containing the strategy for build the product and its initial concepts. The ideas and requirements can come from end users and from team members. A popular tool used for roadmapping is Aha!.
Tracking is a key feature of any iteration of product development. Jira is a popular tool that can be used to track bugs, flaws, and issues throughout the whole development process. It shows the bug visually and lets team members plan strategies to get back on track. Jira can also be used in the road mapping category depending upon the skill set of your team. It also comes with mobile interface to be managed on a device anywhere.
A web-based tool, Trello, is also used for tracking and comes with easy-to-view boards to show certain data to all team members.
To analyze user feedback and identify user behavior towards a product, you need to conduct a quick survey or brief research. Therefore, collecting user responses is necessary in order to detect hollow parts of your product that need to be corrected for a positive user experience.
“When customers love your product, they become ambassadors.”
– Tom Padula (Senior Product Manager at SiriusXM)
Data is central to any discussion of product management. Without data analytics, a product management tool is of no use. The tool Airtable is commonly used to organize data in a spreadsheet format, although its utility for workflow management is limited by its lack of user interface tools.
Asana is another popular tool which is suitable for both small and large-scale business/enterprises.
Moreover, Google Analytics is the most popular and handy tool to view an online summary of what your users are viewing and thus provide metrics that help in making strong product decisions.
Presentation and Communication
To keep your team up-to-date and communicating in a centralized place, you can get great results with a cloud-based tool like Slack.
For high-end presentations, the tools which should fill up your stack of product management tools are: Prezi, PowerPoint, Google Slides and Keynote (works for Mac). Custom presentations with professional themes are a great way to convey important details to your stakeholders and engage external customers.
One flowchart maker tool used for presentation purposes is Visio. Visio provides the ability for all team members to work at a same time on a project diagram by using Microsoft 365.
Visio is especially useful for creating diagrams or visual charts that map the “Customer Experience Journey.” This is because it provides modern templates and shapes to illustrate how a customer visits your company's website, interacts with your sales team, and ends up buying the product. You can also connect your diagram to real-time data to make changes in shapes and charts whenever the connected data changes.
Analytics and Metrics
"Analytics" refers to real-time tracking tools that give you an idea about what your product is serving to end users and what needs to be modified to have a better marketing approach. For example, Optimizely allows you to test your product (as long as it is a software product). It allows both A/B and multi-variable testing to optimize the product.
Segment also falls under this category, as it helps to collect each customer’s real-time access data and dispatch it to every team member in a complete toolkit. It gathers user events from both mobile and web applications.
Dynamic Feature Inclusion
For modern businesses, “Dynamic Feature Inclusion” provides feature management for a product. It allows the development team to release new features or remove problematic features from code when they have been deployed.
Before selecting a product management tool, define your weak points and your business transformation methodologies. Investing in these tools can do wonders for engineering, production, implementation, and communication during product development.
Apart from product managers, teams also play a critical role in development. Strong teams do things more quickly, practice proper time management, work smart, and stay organized. Productivity applications are useful ways to see for yourself that more productivity means more profit and greater efficiency.
Here are a few "must-have" productivity tools for the daily workflow of development teams in the year 2020.
- Google Applications for Business: Google provides a full office suite which has a large number of applications that can boost your team’s productivity. It holds applications like Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Google Drive, Sites, and Forms. It comes with different price packages, and you can choose based on size of your business.
- Microsoft Office Applications: This suite provides multiple applications for personal and business use. It streamlines and automates your business processes with the ability to customize according to your product’s requirements. Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, SharePoint, and Microsoft Publisher are a few examples.
- Zoho: Zoho comes with a bundle containing 40+ mobile and web applications that can powerfully automate and transform the way you perform your day-to-day product development tasks.
- Zapier: For smooth communication, Zapier permits integration between applications. It automates workflows with just a mouse click. For example, if you get an important email in Gmail app, it will be gathered in Dropbox and notify you via Slack, saving time.
The above-mentioned applications cover your business's “to-do-list,” ”organization,” “time tracking,” “communication,” and “presentation” needs.
Crowdbotics for Product Development
You might wonder where Crowdbotics falls on the above list. While not strictly a product management tool, Crowdbotics is a self-serve app builder that automates, abstracts, and reproduces many of these product management features within a single platform.
Designers can implement their designs directly within the app using a drag-and-drop interface for various screen sizes. They can also view and test a live demo of their app within the Crowdbotics dashboard.
Developers can rapidly assemble underlying data models, generate self-documenting arbitrary APIs, and deploy to a live URL with a single click. A two-way integration with GitHub and integrated IDE (coming soon) makes it easy to perfect their app's performance with custom code.
The all-in-one nature of the Crowdbotics platform represents a completely new approach to software development that is faster, cheaper, and more modern than conventional approaches.
Do you need an easier, faster way to build apps? Get in touch with Crowdbotics today.
Choose the Right Tools for the Job
The right PM tool for you depends on the size of your team and business, the nature of your product, and the scope of budget allocated for the product. Considering your present and future needs and identifying how a tool can increase your product’s productivity and reduce your workload. By stating requirements carefully, conducting stakeholder meetings, and formulating surveys, you can answer most of your developer's needs with only a few great tools.